The best food pairings for Zinfandel
Like most wines made from red grapes Zinfandel comes in a number of styles from light and juicy to blockbuster ‘killer’ zins but they have a common thread of ripe brambly fruit and in most cases a richness that makes them a good match for red meat and other hearty dishes, especially those with a hit of smoked chilli.
(It’s also used to make an off-dry style of rosé called white zinfandel - check out my post on rosé for that.
Here are my favourite pairings which also apply to Zin’s brother from another mother primitivo which comes from Southern Italy (though I’d probably go more for the Italian dishes with that)
What goes with Zinfandel
Barbecue, especially American barbecue
If it’s charred, sweet or spicy, most zins will work so think back ribs, brisket, spicy sausages - anything smoked or treated to a sweet or spicy marinade or rub. Recipes like this Texas-style BBQ beef brisket.
Turkey, especially Thanksgiving turkey
Braises and stews
If it’s big and beefy and cooked long and slow - it’s one for zin. Think shortribs and ox cheek, even Mexican mole
Y’know, the kind piled up with cheese, bacon, onions, pickles, whatever. Zin can cope
Meaty pasta sauces and pasta bakes
I’m thinking particularly spaghetti (or tagliatelle) and meatballs or a beef shin ragu. Or anything with sausage in the sauce like this recipe for rigatoni with aubergine, sausage and zinfandel sauce (which needs a new picture, yes I know!). And a classic lasagna, obviously. Basically meat sauces with cooked tomato,
Maybe go for a slightly lighter style with these as it’s as much about the crust and the cheese. A bright gluggable zinfandel or primitivo
Baked, roast or stuffed aubergine/eggplant
Loves zin especially with baked dishes like a parmigiana
A good veggie option for zin (especially baked with garlic butter)
Black bean soup, black bean chillis - actually any chilli con - or sin - carne
Cheese, especially blue cheese
Delicate goat cheeses apart zin is a brilliant all-rounder for a cheeseboard, especially with stronger cheeses, smoked cheese and blues. I particularly like it with Gorgonzola
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