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Q: White Zin/Red Zin

by David on December 22, 2008

Question from Richard: I was recently informed that white zin is always red, is this correct? Is that a shortened form of white zinfandel?

Reply: Hi, Richard! Thanks for writing! There’s so much confusion about Zinfandel, White Zin (yes, Zin is short for Zinfandel – maybe also a term of endearment) :-) – and blush! Not to mention blush vs. rosé.  Who can blame you, if you come to the conclusion that the industry goal is to make this as confusing as possible! ;-)

Here’s how it goes:

  • If it’s called Zinfandel, or Zin, it should be red. There are those who assume it’s pale pink because they’ve only been exposed to White Zinfandel before but, if the name Zinfandel isn’t qualified in any way, you should expect a dry, red wine.
  • If it’s called White Zinfandel, or White Zin, it will actually be light pink! Very confusing! Zinfandel is a dark-skinned grape with clear juice (like most red wine varieties) and the amount of color in the wine depends upon how long the juice is in contact with the skins. The length of skin to juice contact also has a big influence on flavor and texture. When making White Zin, most winemakers extract just a blush of color from the skins and thereafter the wine is produced as a white wine. Quite often they blend in very fruity white varieties, such as Riesling or Muscat, to accentuate the fruitiness. This will usually be sweet or sweetish.
  • If it’s called blush, the wine has been produced just like White Zin, but using a different variety or a blend of varieties. If a variety is named on the label, like Merlot, then federal law is the wine must be at least 75% of the stated variety. If no variety is mentioned, you can assume it’s a blend.  Blush, also, tends to be sweet.
  • If it’s called rosé, it may be a little darker than blush, but not necessarily (rosé means pink, in French). It’s often dry, but may be a little sweet. Really, blush is just a term that came into use to try to sell rosé at a time it wasn’t popular.

So, if you come into our tasting room – and I hope you do – and ask for Zinfandel, we will sadly tell you that we’re sold out of that delicious red wine at the moment. If you ask for White Zin or White Zinfandel, we’ll apologize that we don’t make any, but we do have a Merlot Rosé that’s just a tiny bit sweet: “ would you like to try that?” And, a few of our good neighbors make White Zin. That’s a long answer to a short question, but I hope it’s helpful!

Thanks, again, for writing and I hope you have wonderful holidays that include some equally wonderful wines!

Cheers!
Nancy

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