"Do you have a recipe for a Red Zinfandel made from fresh grapes?" George Schmidt, location unknown
Zinfandel has been shown, through DNA analysis, to be the Primitivo grape of Italy. Nonetheless, it is considered an American grape--not by origin, but by name. Where the name "Zinfandel" came from is a mystery, as is its appearance in America in the 1830s. While its American origins remains a mystery, its wine does not. The spicy grape has been grown in quantity in California since at least the 1860s and is widely regarded as California's own claret.
The grape supports a number of styles, from a lightly blushed White Zinfandel to a hardy, robust garnet-colored red and everything in between. The recipe below makes more of a claret style. [Author's own recipe]
Pick grapes when fully ripe, discarding any spoiled or under-ripe grapes from clusters. Crush and destem the grapes. Add pectic enzyme and ¼ tsp potassium metabisulfite to the crush and stir with wooden paddle. Cover and set aside overnight. Adjust sugar and acid if required and stir in yeast nutrient, Oak-Mor and an activated yeast starter. Recover primary and punch down cap twice daily during primary fermentation. When free sulfur drops below 15 ppm (10 ppm is better), inoculate with malo-lactic culture. When specific gravity drops to 1.000, strain solids into press and extract remaining juice. Transfer wine to secondary and attach airlock. If oak flavor is not sufficient, you may add an additional 1 tablespoon of Oak-Mor powder. After 1 month, rack to sanitized carboy, top up and reattach airlock. Monitor MLF with paper chromatography and rack again when completed (usually about 2 months), adding ¼ tsp potassium metabisulfite at racking. Conduct 3-4 more rackings 1 month apart until wine clears, adding ¼ tsp potassium metabisulfite every other racking. When wine clears, it may be bottled. Allow to age 6 months in bottles before drinking.
My thanks to George Schmidt for this request.