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What Wine with Barbecue?

Discover Zinfandel Wine in White & Red

It's safe to say that virtually 100% of Americans and Canadians have their favorite barbecue recipes, and most can't wait to fire it up when the warm weather arrives.

But what about choosing the right wine to go with grilled steak, burgers and shish-kebab?

One of the best wine matches for barbequed foods is Zinfandel, so lovers of both wine AND barbecue should be aware of this most versatile of wines from California.

"Zinfandel is the quintessential California wine and its natural affinity to barbecued foods, wide range of flavors and diverse styles, makes it the perfect partner at the grill this summer." says Rick Slomka of the Wine Institute of California.

Here are some quick facts to clear up the confusion so everyone can discover this perfect-match-for-the-barbecue wine, just in time for summer.

Zinfandel is known as California's heritage grape and was introduced during the Gold Rush somewhere between 1852 and 1857. California is the largest grower of Zinfandel. Today, Zinfandel is the fourth leading wine grape variety in California, with more than 50,000 acres planted.

Wildly popular in the U.S., Zinfandel has inspired a cult-like following with fan clubs, annual events and a non-profit association, ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) to promote what many consider the original "California red." ZAP's online home, www.zinfandel.org, is a one-stop resource for all things Zinfandel.

Zinfandel can range from a light, fruity blush wine to a strong red with ultra-intense pepper and jam. "Zin" is frequently blended with other grapes.

Red Zinfandel BBQ pairing suggestions:

Popular descriptors for this wine include blackberry, raspberry, boysenberry, cherry, as well as black pepper, cloves, anise and herbs. These characteristics make red Zinfandel a great partner for grilled and herbed meats.

Grilled lamb chops
Zinfandel marinated baby-back ribs
Open-fire grilled pizza
Chorizo sausages and hamburgers
Roquefort, old cheddar, gruyere, emmenthaler, or blue vein cheeses

White Zinfandel BBQ pairing suggestions:

White Zinfandel is made from the same grape – its colour is pink because the juice only stays in contact with the skins for a short period of time. White Zinfandel is known for its sweet, fruity flavour and pretty pink colour. It's extremely versatile and can accompany a variety of foods while also great as an aperitif.

To craft White Zinfandel, grapes are picked early when sugar levels are low and colour is not too intense. Skins are separated from the juice immediately after crush. Fermentation is stopped before all the sugar is converted into alcohol, leaving residual sugar in wine and a relatively low 10 to 11 percent alcohol content.

This slightly sweet blush wine makes it a great partner for meats prepared in sweeter sauces or marinades. It's also a perfect aperitif or dessert wine.

A variety of appetizers
Honey-mustard glazed chicken
Teriyaki and pineapple marinated ham or pork
Desserts and fresh fruit
Soft, mild cheeses


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