A fruity and medium-bodied Zinfandel pairs best with rich and robust foods like grilled Hamburgers, BBQ Ribs, Chinese Takeout, Liver and Onions, Baked Beans, Roasted Lamb and Pulled Pork.  Zinfandel is a rich red wine with flavours of raspberry, blackberry, plum, smoke, spice, and black pepper.  If barrel-aged, expect notes of chocolate, vanilla and leather.  Also, expect to pay more for barrel-aged Zinfandel as oak-ageing costs money.

High in acidity and with medium tannin, Zinfandel can easily take on pizza and pasta containing tomato sauce.  The fruity sweetness of Zinfandel makes it a wonderful pair with slightly sweeter dishes such as Peking duck, duck a l’orange, or chicken teriyaki.

The pairings below refer to lower-alcohol and minimally oaked Zinfandel commonly produced in California.  This style of Zinfandel runs around the $25 range and is best enjoyed young to appreciate the fruity freshness.  Edmeades, Ravenswood, Rosenblum, Bogel, Cline and Frog’s Leap are among the many great California winemakers who make exceptional Zinfandels in this affordable style.

More expensive Zinfandel are oaked, higher in tannin, and boast alcohol of up to 17%.  These syrupy Zinfandels are often nicknamed ‘Fruit-Bombs’ due to their explosive fruit flavours.  With high alcohol and oak-ageing, this style of Zinfandel often comes with a high price and are difficult to pair with foods due to the high level of alcohol and overwhelming flavours.  In this instance, I’d stick with hearty and heavy dishes venison stew, pasta tossed with grilled sausage and beef and rib-eye steak.

Best Food With Zinfandel

ZinfandelBBQ Ribs
ZinfandelBeef Short Ribs
ZinfandelMonterey Jack Cheese
ZinfandelBarbecued Chicken with Barbacue Sauce
ZinfandelBeef Curry Dishes
ZinfandelGrilled Dishes
ZinfandelGrilled Lamb
ZinfandelMexican Cuisine (beef based)
ZinfandelGrilled Sausage
ZinfandelGrilled Steak
ZinfandelCabbage Rolls
ZinfandelPork Tacos
ZinfandelChinese Food Takeout/Buffet
ZinfandelBlack Forest Ham
ZinfandelPulled Pork
ZinfandelChar Siew
ZinfandelChili Con Carne
ZinfandelBay Leaf
ZinfandelBaked Beans
ZinfandelBeef Stew
ZinfandelAsian Style Stir Fry with Soy Sauce
ZinfandelBlue Cheese
ZinfandelCheddar Cheese
ZinfandelPecorino Cheese
ZinfandelGrilled Chicken
ZinfandelTandoori Chicken
Zinfandel - youngChicken Tikka Masala - mild
ZinfandelPasilla Chilie
ZinfandelLamb Curry Dishes
ZinfandelRoasted Duck
ZinfandelBeef Fajitas
ZinfandelHot Dogs
ZinfandelLamb Shanks
ZinfandelPasta Bolognese
ZinfandelPasta with Meatballs/Meat Sauce
ZinfandelPasta with Tomato Sauce
ZinfandelBlack Pepper
ZinfandelPizza with Sausage
ZinfandelGrilled Pork Chops
ZinfandelRoasted Pork Chops
ZinfandelGrilled Pork
ZinfandelPork Roasted
ZinfandelChicken Cacciatore
ZinfandelBeef Goulash
ZinfandelFish Smoked
ZinfandelSouthwestern Cuisine
ZinfandelSteak with Black Pepper
ZinfandelBeef Teriyaki
ZinfandelTurkey Roasted
ZinfandelVegetarian Dishes Grilled
ZinfandelBeef Tacos
ZinfandelWild Boar Grilled
ZinfandelEggplant Parmesan
ZinfandelGrilled Cheese Sandwich
ZinfandelBlackberry Pie
ZinfandelCreole Jambalaya - Beef/Sausage
ZinfandelPork Tenderloin
ZinfandelBaked Ziti
ZinfandelSpaghetti and Meatballs
ZinfandelFajitas De Carne
ZinfandelBarbecue Chicken Pizza
ZinfandelElk Steak
ZinfandelXiang Su Quan Ya - Vietnamese Crispy duck
ZinfandelCorn Dog
ZinfandelGeneral Tso's Chicken
ZinfandelAmerican Goulash
ZinfandelSalisbury Steak
ZinfandelBanh Hoi Thit Nuong - Beef Wrapped in Rice Noodles
ZinfandelBLT Sandwich
ZinfandelBaby Back Ribs - pork ribs
ZinfandelPizza Rolls - Pizza Bites
ZinfandelRoast Goose
ZinfandelLiver and Onions
ZinfandelCurry Feng
ZinfandelBarbecued Lamb Chops
ZinfandelMasala Shalgam
ZinfandelSup Buntut
ZinfandelLamb Tagine
ZinfandelDuck à l'Orange
ZinfandelLamb Gyro
ZinfandelYong Tau Foo
ZinfandelChar Siew Rice / Noodles
ZinfandelSpicy Kelantan Chicken
ZinfandelChicken with Barbacue Sauce
ZinfandelRed Beans
ZinfandelBBQ Beef Brisket
ZinfandelBeef Braised
ZinfandelBeef Casserole
ZinfandelBeef Pot Roast
ZinfandelBeef - Prime Rib with Horseradish
ZinfandelRoast Beef
ZinfandelBeef Stroganoff
ZinfandelWild Boar
ZinfandelBraised Dishes
ZinfandelBuffalo Chicken Wings
ZinfandelCaribbean Cusine
ZinfandelColby Cheese
ZinfandelEdam Cheese
ZinfandelEmmental Cheese
ZinfandelGloucester Cheese
ZinfandelGorgonzola Cheese
ZinfandelGruyère Cheese
ZinfandelMuenster Cheese
ZinfandelParmesan Cheese
ZinfandelRoquefort Cheese
ZinfandelStilton Cheese
ZinfandelValdeon Cheese
ZinfandelZamarano Cheese
ZinfandelCorned Beef and Cabbage
ZinfandelCranberries and Cranberry Sauce
ZinfandelDuck with Black Pepper
ZinfandelDuck with Fruit Sauce
ZinfandelGrilled Duck
ZinfandelPeking Duck
ZinfandelEthiopian Cuisine
ZinfandelGame prepared with Fruit
ZinfandelGrilled Game
ZinfandelBeef with Ginger
ZinfandelGreek Cuisne Meat Dishes
ZinfandelHerbed Dishes
ZinfandelHot Dogs with the Works
ZinfandelSeafood Jambalaya
ZinfandelChicken Jambalaya
ZinfandelJapanese Cuisine
ZinfandelLamb Burgers
ZinfandelLamb Kebabs
ZinfandelOsso Buco
ZinfandelPasta with Sausage
ZinfandelRed Bell Pepper
ZinfandelGreen Bell Pepper
ZinfandelCobb Salad
ZinfandelPhiladelphia Cheesesteak
ZinfandelTurkey Sandwich
ZinfandelPasta Puttanesca
ZinfandelBratwurst Sausage
ZinfandelSpicy Sausage
ZinfandelShepherd's Pie
ZinfandelBean and Bacon
ZinfandelSoy Sauce
ZinfandelFilet Mignon
ZinfandelSteak Rib Eye
ZinfandelSteak Sirloin
ZinfandelSushi Eel
ZinfandelSushi Tuna
ZinfandelSwordfish with bacon
ZinfandelGrilled Veal
ZinfandelWiener Schnitzel
White ZinfandelVietnamese Cuisine
ZinfandelVietnamese Cuisine
ZinfandelTacos Bean
ZinfandelWild Boar Barbecued
ZinfandelWild Boar Roasted
ZinfandelGrilled Vegetable Sandwich
ZinfandelChicken Parmesan
ZinfandelButter Chicken
ZinfandelVeal Marsala
ZinfandelRibeye Steak
ZinfandelMussels in a Tomato Broth
ZinfandelLamb Chops
ZinfandelMeat Lovers Pizza
ZinfandelBeef Carne Asada
ZinfandelBeef Tenderloin
ZinfandelNY Strip Steak
ZinfandelThai Beef Salad
ZinfandelBo Xao Sa - Beef With Lemongrass
ZinfandelDau Hu Nhoi Thit - Braised Stuffed Tofu
ZinfandelChicken Fried Steak
ZinfandelChicken Peri Peri
ZinfandelCottage Pie
ZinfandelBeef Wellington

BBQ Ribs & Zinfandel Pairing

Zinfandel’s sweetness from its fruity flavours makes the red wine exceptional with Barbecue Ribs.  The fruity flavours of blackberry, cherry and raspberry brings out the sweet and savoury spice tones in the barbecue sauce.  Meanwhile, the smoke, spice, and black pepper complement the BBQ sauce’s spiciness.  The pairing works both ways as both the sauce and the ribs make each other taste even more delicious.

High in acidity, Zinfandel cuts through the fatty flavours of your BBQ ribs, keeping your palate refreshed in between bites.  This allows every magnificent bite of ribs to taste just as delicious as the very first bite.  The high acidity also ensures the savoury flavours of the ribs shine through, as acidity is a flavour enhancer.  Finally, while flavourful and rich, a medium-bodied Zinfandel has enough restraint to not wash away all those hard-earned and slow-cooked meaty rib flavours.

Grilled Hamburgers & Zinfandel Pairing

The best wine pairing with hamburgers is Zinfandel as this perfect pairing makes both the wine and the burger make each other taste better.  The smoky and black pepper flavours of Zinfandel mingle perfectly with the savoury flavours of your grilled hamburger, enhancing the flavours of the burger and the fruitiness of the wine.

Meanwhile, refreshing flavours of plum, black cherry, raspberry and blackberry come across as refreshing against the meatiness of the hamburger.  This refreshing nature is important, as in North America we often served our hamburgers well-done.  This, unfortunately, cooks out all the fat and flavour and can often leave the hamburger tasting dry.  Fortunately, one sip of Zinfandel solves this problem, and the high acidity of the wine draws out all the delicious meaty flavours that remain.

Finally, the high-acidity of Zinfandel ensures it will pair well with even the most difficult hamburger toppings.  Banana peppers, ketchup, fried onions, blue cheese, bacon and roasted red peppers will all be supported by the fruity but smoky kiss of Zinfandel.  For similar reasons, you’ll find Zinfandel just as delicious with Lamb Burgers.

Chinese Food Takeout & Zinfandel Pairing

While Zinfandel is dry, the fruitiness of the wine makes it taste slightly sweet, making it perfect with foods that are slightly sweet such as Chinese Food Takeout.  Often we smother our chicken balls and egg-rolls in plum sauce or sweet and sour sauce, and the sweetness of Zinfandel complements the nature of this sweetness.

Soy Sauce is another element of Chinese Food that gives the dishes a rich earthiness, and the smoke, black pepper and spice element of Zinfandel complement the soy sauce.

Finally, Chinese Takeout is incredibly salty, thus the high acidity of Zinfandel, along with its fruity flavours of blackberry, jam, raspberry and cherry, offer an incredible amount of refreshment.  The high acidity also scrubs the carbohydrates and fats found in chicken balls, pork fried rice, spareribs, battered shrimp, and noodle dishes off our cheeks, ensuring each Chinese food bite tastes as fresh as the first.

Pulled Pork Tacos & Zinfandel Pairing

Pulled Pork is shredded meat pulled off a barbecued pork shoulder, which is then mixed with barbecue sauce.  The fruity sweetness of Zinfandel, along with its hints of smoke and spice, complement the barbecue sauce of the pulled pork.  The medium-bodied nature of Zinfandel ensures that it shouldn’t overwhelm the smoky-sweet but subtle flavours of the pulled pork.

High in acidity, Zinfandel will go great with any toppings you shove into your pulled pork taco, including re-fried beans, salsa, grilled vegetables and any additional sauces.  Acidity acts as a flavour enhancer, so you’ll be guaranteed to taste the pork, plus all the other fillings with each bite.

Liver and Onions & Zinfandel Pairing

Liver and Onions is a sweeter dish and Zinfandel’s jammy flavours of blackberry, blueberry and plum complement the sweetness of the dish. Meanwhile, the fruitiness also helps mask the mineral and iron flavours of the liver that not everyone finds pleasant.  Select a medium-bodied Zinfandel if you want to taste some of the Liver’s minerality.  Or if you want to ignore the iron flavours completely, now’s the time to bust open a bottle of full-bodied Zinfandel.

The earthy flavours of the liver and onions also enhance the Zinfandel as it draws out all the subtle flavours of cinnamon, herbs, licorice, smoke and black pepper that are found in this delicious red wine.