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Old Vine Zinfandel vs New Vine Zinfandel

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Similarities of New Vine vs Old Vine Zinfandel

Zinfandel and Old Vine Zinfandel are made from the same grape. Both are jammy, full-bodied, with high tannins and fall on the lower side of acidity. They also have a very similar flavor profile with strong fruit flavors of blackberry, strawberry, and spices, but Old Vine is more concentrated and nuanced.

Differences of New Vine vs Old Vine Zinfandel

The primary difference between Zinfandel and Old Vine Zinfandel is that Old vine Zinfandel refers to wines made from grapes grown on older, mature vines ranging from 50 to over 100 years old. The older vines produce lower yields, which results in more concentrated flavors and aromas.

Old Vine Zinfandel also has the potential for better aging than regular Zinfandel. The structure, concentration, and complexity allow it to develop and improve over time. These characteristics give old vine wines a perception of higher quality. That, and the limited availability of grapes from older vines means Old Vine wine tends to be more expensive than regular zinfandel.

How to Distinguish Between New Vine vs Old Vine Zinfandel

One of the most obvious ways to distinguish between the two wines is to check the bottle. Many producers will specifically label their Zinfandel as “Old Vine Zinfandel”. The price is also an indicator, if a bottle is priced significantly higher than other Zinfandels on the shelf, that may signify an Old Vine. In terms of taste, Old Vine Zinfandel will have firmer tannin structure and a longer finish. The fruit notes of Zinfandel will be prominent, but soft, while Old Vine has more intensity in flavor, along with nuanced flavors of tobacco or leather. 

Old Vine vs New Vine Zinfandel Comparison Chart

Characteristic Old Vine Zinfandel Zinfandel
Sweetness Dry Dry
Acidity Low to Medium Low to Medium
Tannins High High
Body Full Full
Tasting Notes Blackberry, peach, strawberry, cinnamon, sweet tobacco, cedar wood, black pepper Blackberry, peach, strawberry, cinnamon, sweet tobacco
Popularity 1,900 Monthly Searches 27,100 Monthly Searches
Calories Per Glass 130 130
ABV % 13 -17% 13 – 17%

Pairing Food With Old Vine Zinfandel vs Zinfandel

The concentrated, rich flavors of  Old Vine Zinfandel complement grilled or smoked meats, like steak or brisket, game meats, such as venison and wild boar, or even barbecued ribs and pork. The bold fruit also brings a nice balance to spicy cuisine and can make a great pairing with Mexican or Cajun cuisine. For a cheese pairing, try an Old Vine Zinfandel with aged cheeses like gouda, aged cheddar, or Parmesan.

Zinfandel also pairs well with grilled meats, but makes a better match with lighter proteins like chicken, lamb chops, or even burgers. The acidity and fruit-forward nature of Zinfandel is a lovely match for tomato-based dishes like pizza, or pasta dishes with marinara sauce. If you’re looking for a dessert pairing, the berry flavors in the wine complement rich dark chocolate desserts. Try pairing it with brownies or chocolate cake.