Although DNA profiling has linked Zinfandel and Primitivo to a common Croatian ancestor, Zinfandel is now considered virtually indigenous to California where it has thrived since the mid 1850s, remaining today one of the state's most popular and prolific grape varietals. As a red wine, Zinfandel can be made light and fruity, much like French Beaujolais, or lively, complex and age worthy, like Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Adaptable to a wide range of soils and climates, Zin vines tend to be vigorous and highly productive. Because of this vigor and resistance to vine disease, many Zinfandel vineyards exist that are over 100 years old. Naturally, Zinfandel aficionados believe these "old vines" produce the best wines because the older vineyards set smaller crops and the grapes tend to ripen more evenly. 

Fruit aromas typically associated with Zins include raspberry, blackberry, boysenberry, cranberry and blackberry; herbal aromas include licorice, briar and nettle; and spice aromas include cinnamon and black pepper. 

Zinfandel pairs especially well with outdoor-grilled steaks or chops or meat that has been stewed or stuffed with fruit and with sausages, pizza, hamburgers and meatloaf. 

Cheeses that go well with Zinfandel include Asiago, blue cheeses, Brie, Cheddar (smoked), Comte, Emmental, Feta, Gouda, Gruyere, Le Chevrot, Locatelli, Manchego, Maytag Blue, Monterey Jack, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, Piave, Port Salut and Tomme de Savoie.