Top pairings | The best food pairings for Zinfandel

Top pairings

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

As you will know Thanksgiving and Christmas is not so much about the bird as the stuffing and the sides and a good zinfandel can take them all in its stride as I discovered a couple of years ago

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

Dirty’ burgers

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,

Meat-topped pizzas.

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

Portobello mushrooms

A good veggie option for zin (especially baked with garlic butter)

Black beans

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

Picture credits: shortribs by Andrei Iakhniuk, tagliatelle and meatballs by Gaus Alex at

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