The 8 Best Zinfandel & Primitivo You Should Drink in 2022

Zinfandel/Primitivo
This is our review of the 8 Best Zinfandel/Primitivo you should drink this year. Enjoy!

Zinfandel is a black grape that comes typically in two red styles: Zinfandel in California and Primitivo in Italy.

Its flavor ranges from red fruits to black fruit depending on its ripening. It has full-body, high alcohol, with medium-high acidity and tannins. 

Have you ever found yourself staring at many Zinfandel and Primitivo bottles wondering which one you would like best?
 
After an extensive research, we have picked a selection of the 8 best Zinfandel/Primitivo you can find right now.
 
As always we try our best to find high quality wine that offers great value for money and I must confess I’m quite happy with the research and work done. 
 
We have categorized them by regions, price point, etc.. and added an extensive buying guide so that you have all you need to make an informed decision.
 
Our best value bottle selection for you is The Prisoner Saldo for Zinfandel and Masca del Tacco Lu’Li Appassite 2019 for Primitivo.
 
If you are after the best overall bottle, our recommendation is Rombauer Vineyards Zinfandel Napa Valley 2018.
 
You’ll find the table of content below. Let’s start with the review!
4.4/5

Region: United Stated, Napa Valley

Tasting notes: Cherry, Cranberries, Wild Berry, Black Pepper.

Rich, vibrant, and juicy, this wine boasts aromas of cherry and wild berry, with soft notes of black pepper.

Tightly packed layers of cranberries, wild berries, and ripe cherries flow together with a touch of allspice for a rich, full flavor.

Moderate tannins show in the rich, mouth filling finish.

4.2/5

Vivino’s tips: 90 points by Wine Enthusiast (2016 Vintage)

Region: United States, California.

Tasting notes:
Dark Berry, Spices, Chocolate, Coffee Bean

This ruby red Zinfandel blend represents the very best lots of grapes from vineyards all across Northern California.

Bold in its dark berry aroma and laced with hints of cardamom and fall spices, its finish has persistent notes of chocolate and rich coffee bean.

4.1/5

Vivino’s tips: Great value for money. Similar wines usually cost 2 times as much.

Region: Italy, Puglia

Tasting notes: Wild Berry, Raisin, Vanilla, Eucalyptus

Deep ruby wild berries, red flowers, Mediterranean herbs, humus and eucalyptus.

This extraordinary bouquet is also the result of the traditional method in which the freshly-picked, over-ripe grapes are dried, so that a portion of the water evaporates and a higher sugar concentration arises.

4/5

Vivino’s tips: Great value for money. Similar wines usually cost 3 times as much.

Region: United States, California

Tasting notes:
Cherry, Strawberry, Plum, Vanilla, Oak, Smoke.

It’s a very nice Zinfandel and offers a great value for money.

It’s round, deep with medium body and tannins and a long finish. Red and black fruits notes along with leather, vanilla, and oak.

4.5/5

Vivino’s tips: 5 points by Mundus Vini

Region: Italy, Puglia.

Tasting notes: Prune, Cherry Jam, Tobacco, Spice, Cocoa, Vanilla, Coffee.

Intense ruby red color, wide and complex to the nose, fruity, with a prune and cherry jam aroma, with notes of tobacco, slightly spicy.

A full-bodied wine, soft and rich in fine tannins, with notes of cocoa, coffee and vanilla in the end.

4.1/5

Vivino’s tips: Good value for money. Similar wines usually cost 43% more.

Region: Italy, Puglia

Tasting notes: Plum,  Cherry, Rosemary, Vanilla.

Very deep ruby red with violet reflections. Fruity, spicy and intense bouquet, with notes of plums, cherries, rosemary and vanilla.

Full, mellow, well balanced wine showing immediate appeal.

4.1/5

Region: United States, California

Tasting notes: Raspberry, Cranberry, Black Fruit, Black Pepper, Cloves.

Deep, rich purple color. Intense red fruits are on the nose, with black pepper spice and a touch of cloves and dried herbs.

The palate is full with ripe tannins, raspberry, cranberry and black fruit flavors, followed by white and black pepper spices.

4.4/5

Vivino’s tips: 5 points by Sélections Mondiales des Vins.

Region: Italy, Puglia

Tasting notes: Jam, Berries, Vanilla, Oak, Pepper.

Ruby red, round and soft taste reminiscent aromas of jam and berries.

Wine that identifies excellently its territory with its important structure, while respecting the elegance that distinguishes it.

Buying Guide to Zinfandel and Primitivo

It’s not just about which Zinfandel/Primitivo you should buy. There are other important aspects like how to serve it, food pairings, and much more.

The below buying guide will give you a detailed overview of all these topics.

Zinfandel Main Regions and Alcohol Content

Here you find an overview of Zinfandel’s alcohol content and where it is most commonly planted.

Grape

Zinfandel

ABV

13%–17%

Main Regions

USA: California (Napa, Sonoma)

Other Regions

Australia
Croatia
Mexico

Grape

Zinfandel

ABV

13%–17%

Main Regions

USA: California (Napa, Sonoma)

Other Regions

Australia
Croatia
Mexico

What Does Zinfandel Taste Like?

These are some of the most common aromas and flavors of Zinfandel.

Color

Deep Garnet

Nose

Blueberry, Black Cherry
Black Pepper
Violet

Palate

Black Fruit
Spice, Vanilla,
Graphite
Dry
Medium-High Acidity
Medium-High Tannins
Medium-Full Body

Color

Deep Garnet

Nose

Blueberry, Black Cherry
Black Pepper
Violet

Palate

Black Fruit
Spice, Vanilla,
Graphite
Dry
Medium-High Acidity
Medium-High Tannins
Medium-Full Body

Zinfandel Food Pairings

These are some food pairing suggestions for Zinfandel.

Appetizer

Pizza Rustica
Spice Curry
Caramelized Onions

Meat

Quail, Turkey
Pork, Ham
Bacon, BBQ
Veal
Tandoori-Spiced

Fish

Blackened Salmon,
Spicy Tuna Tartare

Cheese

Semi-Hard (Cheddar),
Hard (Grana Padano),
Blue Cheese (Gorgonzola)

Appetizer

Pizza Rustica
Spice Curry
Caramelized Onions

Meat

Quail, Turkey
Pork, Ham
Bacon, BBQ
Veal
Tandoori-Spiced

Fish

Blackened Salmon,
Spicy Tuna Tartare

Cheese

Semi-Hard (Cheddar),
Hard (Grana Padano),
Blue Cheese (Gorgonzola)

Serve and Store Zinfandel

Here you find some useful tips on how to serve and store Zinfandel.

Decant

30 mins

Glass

Bordeaux

Serve at

59 - 64 °F
15 - 18 °C

Store for

Up to 5 years

Decant

30 mins

Glass

Bordeaux

Serve at

59 - 64 °F
15 - 18 °C

Store for

Up to 5 years

Primitivo Main Regions and Alcohol Content

Here you find an overview of Pimitivo’s alcohol content and where it is most commonly planted.

Grape

Primitivo

ABV

13%–17%

Main Regions

Italy: Puglia

Other Regions

Australia
Croatia
Mexico

Grape

Primitivo

ABV

13%–17%

Main Regions

Italy: Puglia

Other Regions

Australia
Croatia
Mexico

What Does Primitivo Taste Like?

These are some of the most common aromas and flavors of Primitivo.

Color

Deep Garnet

Nose

Black Cherry, Blue Raspberry, Plum (ripe)
Red Fruit (unripe)
Cinnamon
Black Pepper

Palate

Red Fruit Jam (unripe)
Black Fruit Jam (ripe)
Cinammon, Black Pepper, Licorice
Dry
Medium-High Acidity
Medium-High Tannins
Medium-Full Body

Color

Deep Garnet

Nose

Black Cherry, Blue Raspberry, Plum (ripe)
Red Fruit (unripe)
Cinnamon
Black Pepper

Palate

Red Fruit Jam (unripe)
Black Fruit Jam (ripe)
Cinammon, Black Pepper, Licorice
Dry
Medium-High Acidity
Medium-High Tannins
Medium-Full Body

Primitivo Food Pairings

These are some food pairing suggestions for Primitivo.

Appetizer

Pizza Rustica
Spice Curry
Caramelized Onions

Meat

Quail, Turkey
Pork, Ham
Bacon, BBQ
Veal
Tandoori-Spiced

Fish

Blackened Salmon,
Spicy Tuna Tartare

Cheese

Semi-Hard (Cheddar),
Hard (Grana Padano),
Blue Cheese (Gorgonzola)

Appetizer

Pizza Rustica
Spice Curry
Caramelized Onions

Meat

Quail, Turkey
Pork, Ham
Bacon, BBQ
Veal
Tandoori-Spiced

Fish

Blackened Salmon,
Spicy Tuna Tartare

Cheese

Semi-Hard (Cheddar),
Hard (Grana Padano),
Blue Cheese (Gorgonzola)

Serve and Store Primitivo

Here you find some useful tips on how to serve and store Primitivo.

Decant

30 mins

Glass

Bordeaux

Serve at

59 - 64 °F
15 - 18 °C

Store for

Up to 5 years

Decant

30 mins

Glass

Bordeaux

Serve at

59 - 64 °F
15 - 18 °C

Store for

Up to 5 years

Our Verdict

Zinfandel is a black grape that comes typically in two red styles: Zinfandel in California and Primitivo in Italy.

Its flavor ranges from red fruits to black fruit depending on its ripening. It has full-body, high alcohol, with medium-high acidity and tannins. 

If you have been through the buying guide, you should have a pretty good idea of how to navigate the Zinfandel/Primitivo world.
 
At the same time, you have probably realized by now, that there’s a huge selection, many styles, and various price points.
 
The good news is that you can get very high quality usually at a good price if you know where to look!
 
That’s why proper guidance comes in handy. We hope our guide was helpful in this regard.
 
Our best value bottle selection for you is The Prisoner Saldo for Zinfandel and Masca del Tacco Lu’Li Appassite 2019 for Primitivo.
 
If you are after the best overall bottle, our recommendation is Rombauer Vineyards Zinfandel Napa Valley 2018.
 
As always, make sure to serve your Cabernet Sauvignon at the right temperature and with the proper glass.

What to do next?

Be sure to serve your Zinfandel or Primitivo at the right temperature. 

Read our wine tasting guide to enhance your tasting experience and taste like the pro!

Alternatively, why don’t you check out our guides on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or the other red wines?

FAQ

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about Zinfandel and Primitivo.

What does Primitivo mean?

Primitivo comes from the Latin “primativus” which translates into the “the first to ripen”.

What is Zinfandel/Primitivo history?

Zinfandel’s history is quite interesting and deserves to be told! 

Zinfandel grapes originated in Croatia around 6000 BCE and DNA wise are identical to Primitivo in Italy and Crljenak Kaštelanski and Tribidrag grapes in Croatia. 

In the 18th century, it was introduced in Puglia in Italy. It then arrived in the US in the 1820s and by the 19th century, it became the most popular variety in California.

Up until the 1950s, Zinfandel was nearly forgotten following the Great Depression [1] and the Prohibition [2].

Finally, at the end of the 20th century red Zinfandel rose to popularity once again and today is widely planted in California.

Where does Zinfandel/Primitivo grow best?

Zinfandel/Primitivo grows best in warm and sunny regions. The grape ripening has a direct effect on the taste profile of the wine.

  • Under-Ripe / Cool Climates: red fruit (raspberry, red berry) flavors.
  • Ripe / Warm Climates: black fruit (blackberry, blueberry), anise, and black pepper flavors.

When is the perfect time to drink Zinfandel/Primitivo?

Are you hosting or going to a BBQ? Zinfandel/Primitivo is a great match for it!

Is Zinfandel/Primitivo sweet?

Zinfandel/Primitivo is not a sweet wine. You generally find it dry. A dry wine contains less than 15 g/L, or sugar per liter. 

Learn more about wine sweetness level here.

When is the International Zinfandel/Primitivo day?

There is an International Zinfandel day and it’s the 3rd Thursday in November. But Zinfandel has its own festival as well, the ZINEX [3].

Is there a Primitivo Late Harvest?

Yes, there is. In Italy, they produce a late harvest version which you must try! It’s amazing! It’s called Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale

Which is most popular between Zinfandel and Primitivo?

This one is for the series: the swing of the pendulum!

When in the 70s Zinfandel was popular in the US, Italian producers were selling Primitivo as Zinfandel in the US to benefit from its popularity.

Primitivo is now rising in popularity and some Californian producers are now labeling their wines as Primitivo.

Is there a Zinfandel Rosé?

Yes, there is. Zinfandel has a Rosé version called White Zinfandel. You can find out more here. 

What’s Zinfandel/Primitivo's typical price range?

Zinfandel/Primitivo is an affordable wine. You’ll find good quality wines for around:

    • $12-$20 price range for the Italian’s style.
    • $15-$30 range price for the Californian’s style.

Why You Can Trust Us?

Wine is our passion and our mission is to make the world of wine more accessible to you and by doing so enhancing your experience.

We try our best to find high quality wines that offer great value for money so that they have a light weight on your wallet as well!🤩

Finally, all the content we publish on this site has been written or overseen by wine certificate holders, which ensures a high quality content.

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