Ok, someone had to sit you down and tell you the truth about this stuff before you curse out every wine magazine, restaurant server and sommelier in the world for being a wine snob, when they turn their noses up when you order this pink crap. Like Buffalo Wings some things that become popular in America happen by accident. So called White Zinfandel is no exception. Some restaurants I’ve worked at, refused to carry the wine not because we were snobbish but because the grape doesn’t exist…you can’t grow a white zinfandel grape.
In 1975, Sutter Home’s White Zinfandel experienced a “stuck fermentation”, a problem that occurs when the yeast dies out before consuming all of the sugar.This problem juice was set aside. Some weeks later the winemaker tasted it, and preferred this accidental result, which was a sweet pink wine. This is the style that became popular and today is known as White Zinfandel, but in the early days was known as Cabernet Blanc or White Cabernet. Sutter Home realized they could sell far more White Zinfandel than anything they had produced to date, and gradually became a successful producer of inexpensive wines. They remain one of the biggest producers of the wine, with annual shipments of over four million cases.
Ok, I grabbed that off the Sutter Home website. Now for the real truth. Red Zinfandel or just Zinfandel (Primitivo in Italian) is a spicy, jammy and big bold red wine. All wine starts off as white juice and it is the red skins that turn it into either a true rose or blush or if left in the tanks longer a dark red wine. The TRUTH of the matter is that this “MISTAKE” that happened in 1975, is true but they played around with the names as Cabernet Blanc, White Cabernet because Sutter Home did not want to put the words PINK on their label, fearing men wouldn’t buy it. From my retail experience, I still know men that have asked for White Zinfandel and will argue with me that I pointed them to the wrong selection because it is PINK and not WHITE.
The major part of the story that Sutter Home leaves out on their website is that, today in 2012, although their may be some Zinfandel grapes in this concoction, they also add a melange of cheap grape varietals (Whatever they can buy of damaged grapes etc) and besides the residual sugar that is in this stuff, they add a bunch more. Hence, the nickname from us wrongly called “Wine Snobs” is “SUGAR WATER”. It always cracks me up when people actually argue their point as to which one of the brands taste the best or ask whether or not they should choose the Franzia Box Wine White Zinfandel or the Sunset Blush. It’s all the same “Sugar Water”
I am sorry, I had to break the news to you this way. When your palate grows up, and you wake up one day with a 2 day long headache from drinking this “PUNCH”, you will understand I did this for your own good. Don’t even get me started on Carlo Rossi Blush Chablis!