Fall For Zinfandel: 6 California Zinfandels To Meet Your Fall Food Pairing Needs

Fall is here and with it comes cooler and shorter days, football, and heartier cuisine. Although Zinfandel is a perfect summertime wine because it pairs beautifully with summer barbecues; it is not to be forgotten in fall. California Zinfandel is the wine you want to serve for Friday pizza night, Saturday chili, Sunday night Bolognese, Meatless Monday, and Taco Tuesday.

It pairs great with football watching foods such as jalapeno poppers, nachos, and hamburgers. Additionally, California Zinfandel is crafted in a variety of weights, textures, and flavors so don't forget Zinfandel for your fall soups, pork and poultry dishes, and of course holiday meals.

Zinfandel provides the clearest window into California terroir. Although the Wine Institute has confirmed that Zinfandel is genetically identical to Italy's Primitivo grape as well as the ancient Croatian grape Crljenak Kastelanski, Zinfandel grapes cultivated in California differ in vigor and cluster size; factor in unique winemaking techniques and terroir and California Zinfandel produces a wine like none other.

Zinfandel is known as a big, bold red wine with jammy red and black fruit, bold spice, black pepper, smoke, and tobacco notes. Zinfandel typically presents moderate tannins, high acidity, and high alcohol percentages. However, the weight and flavors of Zinfandel can vary depending on the growing region. Zinfandel loves the warm, dry climate regions of California.

Here are six Zinfandels, each from a different region in California, all perfect for fall cuisine.

2012 Grgich Hills Estate Zinfandel Napa Valley ($37): Crafted of 98% Zinfandel and 2% Petite Sirah; soft garnet in the glass; vibrant fruit forward aromas of black cherries, blue berries and black berries, with spice notes, black pepper and a touch of toasted hazelnuts; lighter theb expected and quite delicious, vibrant, long and lean on the palate with round acidity and well-integrated tannins, a well-structured wine with a long, pleasant finish.

2013 Beekeeper Zinfandel Madrone Spring Vineyard Rockpile Appellation Sonoma County ($65): Crafted of 95% Zinfandel and 5% Petite Sirah; penetrating purple in the glass; bounty of aromas ooze in layers from the glass include dark jammy fruits, black licorice, black pepper, damp tobacco leaves, roasted espresso beans, dark chocolate, savory dried herbs, spice notes leading with cinnamon, and toasted walnuts, all layered on a firm bed of minerality and graphite; rich and robust on the palate with a flavor profile to last for days; no shrinking violet here; this is a zin lovers zin through and through; rich and penetrating tannins and high alcohol yet magically balanced, and a long and lean finish that won't stop.

2013 Wonderment Burton Ranch Old Vine Zinfandel Lake County ($35): 100% Zinfandel; glistening crimson in the glass; aromas of holiday potpourri cascade from the glass; bright red and blue fruit meets cocoa, black pepper, red licorice, and spice; soft and succulent fruit forward zin that is elegant with a juicy mouth-feel, medium body with rich tannins and balanced acidity coating the palate, leaving a long, sophisticated finish.

2013 McNab Ridge Family Reserve Old Vine Zinfandel Mendocino County ($26): Crafted of 100% Zinfandel; light scarlet in the glass; aromas of mulled fruit envelop the nose, red cherries, raspberries, and plums are wrapped in baking spices, and dusted with white pepper, a hint of candied violets trails off at the end; lightly dances across the palate, wrapping the palate in spice, light to medium body yet bold in flavor, well-structured, firm tannins, long spicy finish.

2013 Three Wine Company Live Oak Zinfandel Contra Costa County ($34): Crafted of 81% Zinfandel, 15% Petite Sirah, 1% Alicante Bouschet, 2% Carignane, and 1% Mataro; light ruby with violet hues in the glass; blackberry, cherry, and black raspberry marmalade wrapped in baking spice with candied violets and white pepper fill the glass; supple on the palate with a smooth mouth-feel, hearty spice wraps the palate, medium-body, well-balanced, tannins and acidity coat the palate creating a long finish.

2012 Klinker Brick Winery Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi ($19): Crafted of 100% Zinfandel blended from 16 different vineyard blocks of vines with an average age of 85 years; aromas of penetrating dark fruit of plums, black cherries, black raspberries, and blackberries, round spice notes, black pepper, savory dried herbs, tobacco, and a lingering vanilla; concentrated and bold on the palate with brisk tannins, balanced acidity, full-body, mouth-coating, long, lasting finish.

Don't forget California Zinfandel for all your fall and holiday meals. Cheers!