Zinfandel Vs Rose: Which is Better?

These two wines are produced through very similar winemaking techniques. Wine production is a complex craft that requires comprehensive explanations and practicals. All you need to know for a newbie is that Rose is often produced from the short exposure of wine to red grape skins.

However, most red wines ferment for many weeks. But Rose’s contact with the grape skins is for a little time, so it usually ends up with a lighter color.

Rose is made from red grapes, but only Zinfandel grapes can produce Zinfandel wines. Talking about the Flavor, Zins are usually a much sweeter, pinker wine.

They are sweeter than the Rose varietals. Rosé wines have a wide range of blush to bright red.

What is Zinfandel Grape?

Zinfandel falls into the category of red wine grapes. It is the second most-grown red grape in California. These grapes are often used in making strong, aromatic, juicy wines with high levels of alcohol.

During the gold Rush, Zinfandel was regarded as the miner’s wine and gained the reputation as the “Bordeaux of California”. In recent years, Zins were not grown with the same passion as it once was.’

Origins of Zinfandel Grapes

Zinfandel is an ancient grape that emanated on the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia, where it was named crljenak kastelanski or tribidag.

Grape scientists led by Carole at UCD discovered Zinfandel Croatian roots in the early 2000s. Also, they discovered that the California and Croatian Zinfandel share quite an identical DNA to primitivo, a grapefruit planted in the southern Italian region of Puglia.

Zinfandel thrives well in warm climates. Zinfandel grapes do not do well under the hot sun. Therefore, it is important to grow them in a warm climate, not a hot one.

Where does Zinfandel Grow?

Most of California’s Zinfandel is produced in the Central Valley of California. The Amardor County and Russian River Valley wine regions also have many vines dating back to the Gold Rush period.

Old vine Zinfandels are spicier and lower in alcohol levels. However, many wine enthusiasts believe that the best region for top-quality Zinfandel wine production is the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County.

This valley is known for its warm days. Cool nights which seem perfectly optimized for the ripening of the zin grapes, in this region, premium Zinfandel is often aged in new oak barrels, similar to Carbernet sauvignon. The Zinfandel grape is widely planted outside the US in Puglia, Italy. In Puglia, Zinfandel is often called Primitivo.

The Zin grapes are also grown in Croatia, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and France.

Characteristics of Zinfandel grapes

The Zinfandel grape is a unique grape that produces a fruity wine with little tannins with a sweet finish. Here are some qualities characterized by the Zinfandel grapes.

Fruit basket:

Zinfandel is arguably the only red wine grape consistently expressing a wide range of fruit flavors. From this grape, you can find complex aromas of blackberries, strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries, all in the same wine glass.


On its own, Zinfandel makes a juicy, medium-bodied wine that’s easier to drink because of the low tannin level. It is also an excellent blend for California’s mixed black wine grapes, such as Syrah, cardigan and Grenache.

When aged in an oak barrel, Zinfandel develops spicy flavors such as cinnamon and nutmeg while still retaining the grape’s natural flavor.

Uneven Ripening:

Zinfandel grapes in the same cluster can be completely ripe, under-ripe or even raisinated. This unique characteristic has its purpose. Under-ripe grapes help sustain Zin’s juicy acidity, while fully ripe grapes are responsible for their baked, fruity flavors.

The types of Wines made with Zinfandel

Zinfandel is made in 3 major styles, namely;

Red Zinfandel:

Red Zinny is a classic California red popularly known for its complex fruit flavors and spicy tobacco finish. Red Zin is high in alcohol and has a hint of residual sugar. Red Zin can be blended with other red grapes to improve its tannin levels and make it more bodied.

White Zinfandel:

White Zinfandel isn’t a white wine. It is a pink wine that is classified with sweet rose styles. White Zin was created by Bob Trinchero of Sutter Home in the 1970s. It became very popular in the 80s, outshining the already-established red Zinfandel in the wine business. For a bottle of red Zinfandel sold back then, six bottles of white Zin were sold for every bottle of red Zinfandel.

Dessert wine:

As stated earlier, Zinfandel pucker up under the sun. This makes Zinfandel perfect for dessert wine production. For this purpose, the resinated grapes, concentrated with flavor and sugar, must be harvested by hand, making these wines a bit more expensive.

How does Zinfandel Wine Taste?

Zinfandel wine can have a complex taste of cranberry, blueberry, raspberry, and even cherry flavor in a bottle. However, this list highlights the various flavors you can expect from this aromatic fruit wine. The flavors include:

  • Raspberry
  • Cranberry
  • Cherry
  • Blackberry
  • Fig
  • Raisin
  • Peach gummy candy

But some Zinfandel that is aged in oak barrels will add flavors like:

  • Coconut
  • Vanilla
  • Cinnamon
  • Moch
  • Nutmeg

Zinfandel Food Pairs

Pairing zinfandel wines with various food can be a bit less challenging, and this is due to its excellent acidity and tannin levels. Any dish with fruit elements or slight chilli heat will pair perfectly with Zinfandel wines. Examples include:

Pork Tonkatsu: this is a Japanese dish served with spiced curry sauce. The savour and spice of this dish make it a perfect pair for Zinfandel.

Cheese Pairings: well-flavoured cow and sheep milk cheese are a perfect pair for Zinfandel

Vegetables: roasted tomatoes, onions, roasted squash, apricot peach, spiced apple, cranberry, and beets use their flavour to bring out Zinfandel’s fruitiness.

Spices and Herbs: ginger, garlic, rosemary, turmeric, cayenne, clove, vanilla, cocoa, black pepper, coriander, saffron, and fennel are all good pairs with Zinfandel.

These are some more examples of foods that pair well with Zinfandel.

  • Sweet and sour pork
  • Mole poblano
  • All types of barbecue
  • Indian curries like, tikka masal and pasanda
  • Bouillabaisse

Having said all this, let us discuss a little about Rose before we delve into comparisons between these two excellent wines.


Rose belongs to the group of wines generally accepted and enjoyed around the globe. Over the years, several wine critics have ignored this wine because of its sweet flavour profile.

However, it may surprise you to learn that Rose comes in various styles. Classic sweet wines such as pink Moscato come with more residual sugar and a lower alcohol level. Also, there are plenty of dry rosé wines. Rosé wines are produced using diverse wine grapes, usually the darker varieties, which are more associated with red wines.

The pink coloration of the rosé wines comes from the reduced exposure or contact with the grape skins. This process is also responsible for its low alcohol contents and sweeter flavor.

Rose, Food Pairings

When it comes to food pairings, Rose is very food friendly.

This pink wine pairs excellently with almost any food, from spicy foods to meats and rich sauces. However, light dry Rose made from Grenache or Cinsault from Burgundy and Loire Valley pair best with salads, pasta, seafood, grilled fish, and rice dishes. Conversely, medium-dry Roses, such as pinot noir, pair well with the delicacies named above or fruity deserts.

Medium-bodied Roses from southern France and Spain make the flavors pop. Usually, these Roses are paired with grilled chicken, lamb, paella, etc. Furthermore, fruity Roses from California, Australia, and Chile are also perfect for many foods.

Rose is served with spicy curries, seared salmon and tuna, and soft cheese, and you can also try them with ripe peaches. Lastly, sparkling Roses are usually best for parties and when paired with desserts and fruit tarts.

Sweet and Dry Rosé wines

Most Roses are dry Rose wines. Nonetheless, Roses can be sweet or dry. Roses produced in the Old World wine region are usually very dry, while the Rose from the New World wine region is usually sweeter and fruitier. Coupled with the variety of grapes, climates and production techniques are factors that contribute to the sweetness or dryness of every Rose wine.

Some of the grapes used in the production of a drier rose are;

  • Cardigan
  • Grenache
  • Pinot Noir
  • Syrah
  • Mourvedre
  • Sangiovese
  • Cinsault

However, for a sweeter and savory rose wine, you should opt in for;

  • Syrah rose
  • Tempranillo Rose
  • Tavel Rose
  • Carbernet Sauvignon Rose

Although Roses are widely known for their sweeter flavor profile, it’s imperative to know that this isn’t always the case, as many roses are out there to suit your preference.

Comparing Zinfandel or Rose


Comparing the calories of these two wines depends largely on the variety of rosé wine you choose to compare to the fruity Zinfandel. Note that the best variety of Roses to compare the calories is dry Rose, so differentiating the flavor profiles will be easier. A dry rose has a higher alcohol content than Zin.

Zinfandel will normally have a higher calorie percentage than Rose. This is because of its sweeter flavor profile, resulting from the higher sugar content in each bottle.

Health Impact

When discussing this wine’s health impacts, Rose wines have many healthy antioxidants. These antioxidants can help to:

  • Boost heart health
  • Reduce the risk of cancer
  • Reduce your cholesterol

This is because of the maceration techniques employed in producing a bottle of wine. As a result, the dark grapes in Roses mean Rose wines have more antioxidants than Zinfandels.

Whatever health benefits you get from drinking these wines depends on moderation. Taking it in excess will harm your health.


Just as moderation affects the health benefits you gain from taking Rose, drinking rose in moderation will also affect the type of hangover you get from taking too much of this wine in a go. However, the sugar content in Zinfandel means that alcohol levels are lower than that of dry rose wine.

This implies that if you take a lot of Zinfandel rather than a bottle of Rose, you will most likely have a mild hangover. However, if you took the same quantity of dry Roses, you most likely are in for the worst hangover of your life.

Conclusion: Zinfandel Vs Rose: Which is Better?

Zinfandel, also known as Primitivo, is a type of wine produced from a specific grape. Although a type of Zinfandel known as white Zinfandel might be classified as a Rose, it is important to know that Zinfandel generally differs from Roses.

Rose isn’t a particular type of grape. Rather, it’s just like a class or genre of wines, like red wines and white wines. Although it is produced similarly to red wines, fermenting with grape skins takes a shorter time.

The reduced skin contact is what’s responsible for its signature pink color. Rose is popular in the United States, Spain, where it is called “Rosado”, and Italy, where it is called “Rosato”.

In short, Zinfandel is made from Zin grapes, while Rose is practically made from various grapes. Some red wine grapes used in making Roses are Sangiovese, Syrah, cardigan, Pinot noir, and so on. Also, it is important to note that a Rose can be a single varietal made from a single grape variety. However, some vintners make their Rose from combinations of several grapes.

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