White Zinfandel…Mistake or Fate?

by Brian The Timeless Winer

I had just poured myself a glass of Port and, kicked back on the patio,  was looking at the cloudy night sky,  just sort of contemplating the universe.  A little Elton John in the background (Rocket Man, get it?) and  I got to wondering just why it was that every time there is a really great meteor shower it will be best viewed long after I should be in bed.  Or actually, unviewable from where I am in Oklahoma.

Apparently, my being idle causes some sort of disorder in the universe occupied by Elizabeth and Miki, because they popped outside and were just FULL of good ideas for a blog, or ten, that I should get cracking on because I am ‘a few days late’ for one of my projects and I am just ‘oh so welcome’ for their help.   The topic for me?  White Zinfandel. Oh, my head.

photo from LiveStrong.com

photo from LiveStrong.com

What IS White Zinfandel?  Gotta tell you, first of all, I don’t care for it.  Second, what I know about it would fit onto a very small page, but my masters are of the opinion that I should know waaay more than that, and consequently, here I am.  Seems that the Zinfandel varietal grape has been around for quite some time and was historically a producer of red wine.  Good, spicy, red wine.  I like red wine. A lot.

But of course, winemakers being what they are, around 1869, the El Pinal Winery in Lodi, California (still making wine, by the way) decided that the good red should be made into a rosé. Now leap forward in time about 100 years or so to the Sutter Home Winery. The ‘home boys’ at Sutter Home are turning out their premium Red Zinfandel using a method that left them with a bit of excess juice that they fermented separately into a dry ‘White Zinfandel’.

photo from olivegarden.com

photo from olivegarden.com

I know, I know. Dry red, dry white, dry article.  But, read on faithful followers of Bacchus, mysteries are about to be revealed.

Journey with me now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, let us say 1975, and witness the birth of a legend.  The dimly lit halls of Sutter Home echo to the winemakers assistant crying, ‘Yo ese! My fermentation is stuck and now my yeast is dead before it ate all the white powder (sugar), homes! This juice gotsa problem, man.  Ima put it over there for chu.’(Okay, maybe it didn’t sound quite like that but I did leave out all of the cursing and swearing that I would bet money occurred.) Anyway, there was a fermentation problem and the juice was set aside for some weeks and then tasted by His Eminence, the Winemaker.  He found that it had a pinkish color and sweet flavor that he preferred over the other Zinfandel.  With visions of the reckless expenditure of parental dollars by college students dancing in their brains, Cabernet Blanc or White Cabernet (as it was originally called), was put on the shelves and was a glass smashing success.  Within a short period of time, its name was changed to White Zinfandel.

White Zinfandel wine IS a successful mistake.   As of February 2006, White Zinfandel accounted for 10% of all wine sold by volume, making it the third most popular varietal sold in these here United States of ‘Merka,  outselling Red Zinfandel 6:1 by volume.

Once again I have appeased the Powers that Be and ensured that my nonexistent pay check will continue to not arrive.  Don’t forget, this is important, I get all my information based on that fact-filled and reliably truthful and accurate place called the internet.  (Well, except for the parts that I obviously make up, like the home boys at Sutter Home, yo.)   This has been a pretty fun piece to write, but I still don’t drink the pink.


And now, my personal rant:

Free The Grapes

Free the Grape!





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