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Zinfandel grapes have a thick skin that ranges from a deep red to purple-black in color. The grapes, which are around the size and shape of concord grapes, grow in large, tight clusters on the vine. Each grape may ripen at different times and it is common to see lighter, less mature grapes growing next to ripe purple ones and even older, “raisined” grapes. Zinfandel grapes are seeded, are extremely juicy and have an intense, sweet flavor with high acidity. They have hints of spice, blackberry and plum.
Zinfandel grapes are available in the fall months.
Zinfandel is a cultivar of Vitis vinifera, and are also known as Primitivo grapes. They are a typically used to produce robust red wines as well as semi-sweet, light pink vintages. The grapes are known for their high sugar content, and can produce wines that are high in alcohol content. Zinfandel grapes come from a long-lived cultivar that produces vines that can live to 100 years or more.
Zinfandel grapes are rich in vitamins A, C and K. They have a high fluid content, which can help with hydration and electrolyte replacement.
Although Zinfandel grapes are known as a wine grape, they can also be eaten raw, out-of-hand. They work well as a garnish atop desserts like cakes and ice creams, and can be cooked into jellies and jams, or pressed into juice. They make a nice addition to cheese boards and fruit platters. Store Zinfandel grapes in the refrigerator, where they will last for around 5 days.
Zinfandel grapes have been called a “California grape” because they are mostly grown in the American state.
The exact origins of Zinfndel grapes are unknown, although it is theorized that they first came from Croatia, from a variety of grape known as Crljenak Kaštelanski. They have also been shown to be genetically similar to Italy’s Primitivo grapes, which are grown in the Puglia region. Zinfandel grapes are used most in America, where they were first recorded in the early 1800s. The were first appreciated as a table grape, then became a popular grape for red wine blends. In 1975, Zinfandel grapes were given a boost by the Sutter Home winery, which created the now-famous pink Zinfandel wine. Zinfandel grapes today are grown largely in the United States, and are also cultivated in Europe, Australia, South Africa and Chile in regions with warm climates and full sun.