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Making White Zinfandel


John Vigliotti — Temecula, California asks,

What are the steps for making a white Zinfandel wine? How long should I allow for skin contact, and is everything else the same as making a red Zin thereafter?

Funny you ask this question as I’ve just now got three tanks full of 2016 Monterey Pinot Noir rosé fermenting in the winery. White Zinfandel, contrary to what some folks think, is a rosé of red Zinfandel grapes and not a unique variety all to itself. It was “invented” at Napa’s Sutter Home winery in 1975 when a batch of bled-off juice from a red Zinfandel fermentation failed to go dry. As the winemaker’ scratched their heads wondering what to do with thousands of gallons of sweet pink wine, they tasted it and decided it was pretty good. The marketing department got on board, naming the accident “White Zinfandel.” Consumers across the nation started to lap it up and a legend was born. I don’t know how many cases of white Zinfandel are consumed in the United States each year but I know it’s a heck of a lot. Pooh-poohed as cheap plonk, I take a more charitable view of the brew as white Zinfandel can be a “gateway wine” for those new to the grape. Folks start with the
Response by Alison Crowe.