The Great (Grape) Pretender

The Great (Grape) Pretender

Published by Francis Elms on 20th Nov 2019

(Photo by Timo Volz on Unsplash)

Wine has many flavours. 

That's what makes it so enjoyable trying out different styles, rather than sticking to the same old thing, week after week.

It's made of grapes, but rarely does it actually taste of grapes!

The primary flavours of red wines will usually be red, black, or blue fruits:

Strawberries/raspberries/cherries, blackcurrants & blackberries, and blueberries are common examples that come to mind.

Can you believe that all these pictured fruits can make up the taste of a red wine?

Then you'll add in spice notes, often from the influence of barrel ageing, but it will crop up in certain varieties without any oak influence.

Wood influences often bring notes of coffee/mocha/chocolate.

With time, secondary characters, such as dried fruits and leathery/animal notes can appear.

All this makes for greater complexity and enjoyment of the wine in your glass.

Then there's food!

Wine with food is a massive addition to the whole wine drinking experience.

Some wines definitely have better food matches, but it's all down to what YOU like.

Don't be told you must have "A", but you absolutely mustn't have "B" with you favourite meal.

It's your choice, have what you like best.

Today's the day for all fans of rich and spicy reds to reach for a celebratory glass.

Some well-meaning person in a marketing department (probably in the USA) decided that the #Zinfandel was worthy of its own "special day" - the 20th November

So, if you're in need of an excuse to have said bottle, then carry on reading!

The #USA used to claim #Zinfandel as their own. Not anymore.

#Italy came up with a DNA test that showed it was the same as #Primitivo, so they laid claim to it.

Then, horror of horrors, #Croatia discovered it was originally their native variety called #CrljenakKaštelanski

I think we'll just stick with "Zin" for now!

You can have the pink, medium-sweet, Californian "Blush" style, but you're missing a trick if you think that's what it's all about.

Real Zin is #RedWine and it knows it. 

Big, rich and burly with lots of raspberry fruit and spice notes.

Both #Ridge and #Turley are famed for their #Zinfandel in the USA and are priced accordingly into the stratosphere, but you can get better value...

The Long Barn Zinfandel from California, has lots of lush, bramble fruit that has been aged in both French and American oak barrels. Perfect with a hearty autumn/winter stew (with, or without, meat... it's up to you).

£13.99 a bottle.

Beringer Zinfandel comes in at just £9.99

This rich and intense red has delicious, ripe dark berry fruits such as raspberry, cherry and strawberry, together with hints of liquorice and fruitcake. The palate is rich and soft with lovely spicy notes.

This #Zinfandel goes very well with lamb, spicy dishes and even some desserts.     

But what happens when your preferred grape is masquerading as something completely alien in another country?

The names are all wrong; how could you still like the wines?

Be adventurous and dive in. You won't regret it!

Heading over to Italy, my first choice would be the absolutely brilliant tasting #organic and #biodynamic #primitivo

from Ruminat Lunaria in #Abruzzo

Beautifully balanced, elegant wine with no oak at all. It doesn't need it!

On the nose, aromas of black cherry and violets leap from the glass. The palate is soft and smooth with notes of sweet black cherries and blackcurrant fruits combined with notes of cinnamon and cloves supported by lovely soft tannins. Well balanced with a fresh acidity and a long, fruity finish.

Serve with dry cured meats and mature cheeses.

All this for £14.75 

The everyday choice is by #Carlomagno

It's from Puglia, in the far south of Italy, and is made using the #Appassimento method of dried grapes.

We've got lots of this wine. It's really popular!

100% #Primitivo from low yielding vineyards in #Puglia with a quarter aged in oak for 12 months.

A portion of the grapes are dried (appassimento) for a brief period to concentrate the aromas and rich fruit flavours in the wine, so on the palate there are flavours of dried fruits as well as black fruits.

Complex bouquet reminiscent of cherries, raspberries and redcurrants. The partial oak ageing adds a pleasant roasted and spicy aroma and makes this full-bodied and supple wine perfect with roasted red meats and mature cheeses. 

Get yourself a bottle for only £9.10 Wow!

So, the "Ultimate Zin" might actually be a Primitivo, or even a Crljenak Kaštelanski

If you really want one, you can order from Zagreb and get a Crljenak Kaštelanski that comes in an amphora for 50 euros (plus shipping), or you could go on holiday to Croatia and try it there.

I know what I'd rather do!

(Photo by Ivan Ivankovic on Unsplash)

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