What is White Zinfandel? White Zinfandel was a best selling wine in the U.S. for decades. The wine began at Sutter Home back in the 1970’s. Some people do not know that Zinfandel is actually a red grape. We should ask, “What is Red Zinfandel?”
What is White Zinfandel?
White Zinfandel comes from those red grapes. Some of the juice was skimmed off after only brief contact with the skins of the grapes. Exactly like you would make a rosé, which we talked about in a previous video. One of the major differences with White Zinfandel and Rosés is that White Zinfandel tends to be sweeter. In the 1970’s Sutter Home was trying to make a very rich, very dry, deep red Zinfandel. They had the idea to take some of the juice off of the skins early in the process. That way the rest of the juice would have more contact with the skins. They hoped to produce a deeper, darker, richer, drier Red Zinfandel.
When they took some of that juice off, they decided to bottle it as White Zinfandel. The accident they stumbled across during the process is that the fermentation didn’t fully go through. The White Zinfandel was sweeter that it should have been.
More Alcohol, Less Sugar; More Sugar, Less Alcohol
Yeast usually burns off the sugars to make alcohol. This time, the chemical process did not fully complete so the wine was still a little bit sweet. People started liking it and Sutter Home made more. Other companies jumped in and produced their own. A good segment of the wine drinking society of that time, and even up to now, was not aware that Red Zinfandel is very dark, rich, and dry red wine.
White Zinfandel changed the impressions of traditional pink wines for American consumers. French wineries and even many California wineries for centuries produced Rosés, which are the dry pink wines.
Because of the popularity of the White Zinfandel in the US, as more and more people became wine drinkers, that was the only pink wine they were familiar with. They started associating pink wines with sweetness.
So in conclusion of “What is White Zinfandel?” – it is a sweet version of Rosé, made out of Zinfandel grapes. It is important to remember that when you visit your local wine store that you differentiate what type of Zinfandel you would like.
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