A beautiful, easy-to-drink varietal, we love Zinfandel because it’s such a versatile wine. It’s so versatile we’ve already given you one article about pairing it with food, and now we’re back with more suggestions, more delicious flavor combinations, and more ideas for exploring Zinfandel as part of your wine journey.
Zinfandel, also known as Primitivo, originated in Italy but has now found a comfortable home in California where the pleasant climate and plentiful sunshine help to bring juicy fruit flavors to the fore while the cold nights, mountain mists, and influence of the ocean air help it retain enough acidity to keep the wine in a perfect balance.
The Sweet Oaks 2016 Zinfandel
When pairing food with wine, it’s a great idea to get a feel for the wine first. Understanding its key flavors and aromas along with the general weight and texture of the wine gives you something to shoot for when it comes to food pairings.
The Sweet Oaks 2016 Zinfandel is medium-dark ruby red in color. Aromas of black cherry, tobacco leaf, and black licorice dominate, but suggestions of figs and currants come through as well. The wine is jammy and brambly with sweet cherry and berry notes.
This is a rich, ripe Zinfandel with a round, glossy weight on the palate so it can pair with bold, robust plates that pair well with the powerful flavors. There is just enough acid in the wine to keep the fruit in check and give the wine a mouthwatering finish which helps it to cut through the fat of meat dishes, making the wine ideally suited to grilled meats such as brisket or baby-back ribs. This wine is perfectly at home at a barbecue as well as being an excellent choice for hearty winter dishes during the holidays. Find out more about pairing wine with meat on our blog.
Food Pairing Ideas: Taking an Italian twist
As you might expect for a varietal that has its roots in Italy, Zinfandel makes a delicious match with Italian foods. It’s a dry wine although the fresh fruit flavors make it feel sweet — the brain always likes to interpret fruitiness as sweetness. All of those fruit flavors, however, mean that it pairs well with tomato-based dishes that have a slight sweetness and even a little earthiness to them with the tomatoes cooked long and slow on low heat. For vegetarians, we recommend pairing this indulgent wine with eggplant parmesan, one with layers of rich ingredients that will make a powerful experience.
For similar reasons, pizza can be a great choice for matching a juicy, velvety glass of Zinfandel. You can expect a wide range of toppings to pair very nicely with this wine. Try grilled vegetables like peppers and artichokes, then add pepperoni or marinated chicken, chili beef, or even jalapeños for a real adventure in your mouth. The typical herbs and spices that you might associate with pizza will also work nicely: basil, oregano, and a little freshly cracked black pepper. Finally, don’t be afraid of the cheese — the fattiness will pair up nicely with the rich body of the wine providing complementary textures. It will also improve the mouthfeel of the acidity as your mouth tries to find balance. This is a great trick when matching food and wine; offering something fatty can coat the mouth which will temper the acidity and improve the sensation of the fruity elements of the wine.
If you enjoy your Italian food with a little meat in it, why not try a classic ragu? We often think of spaghetti bolognese as a typical Italian dish, but it’s more of an Anglicized invention made outside of Italy. Try a long and slow-cooked ragu like this traditional recipe. Here, ground meat is cooked with the typical trio of Italian sauce base ingredients: celery, carrot, and onions which make up il soffritto. Tomatoes are added later when the full flavor of the aromatics is released and well-blended with the meat juices. Top it off with a little wine at the end. And remember, it is time that’s the irreplaceable ingredient here which brings a natural sweetness and depth to the sauce that makes it such a good partner for this wine.
We hope you aren’t feeling too hungry after all that! Sweet Oaks 2016 Zinfandel is a flexible wine that gives you a lot of options to play with. And because everyone’s palate is different, it’s always worth experimenting with different textures and flavors to discover what best suits you and your guests.
Try serving Sweet Oaks wine at your next dinner party and give our food pairing suggestions a try. Order Sweet Oaks wine via our online shop.