Best zinfandel wines for the holidays in 2023

Sunday, December 17th, 2023

best Zinfandel wine for 2023 holidays

–A list of the best wines for the holidays would not be complete without a section on zinfandel. It’s known as the Paso Robles heritage grape varietal. Great zinfandel and Italian-style wines from SLO County are typically full-bodied, fruity with aromas of berries, sometimes jammy, and usually of moderate to high alcohol content. They pair well with roasted turkey, lamb, red meats, and anything Italian you might be making for the holidays.

Top local zinfandel and Italian-style wine recommendations

915 Lincoln 2020 Reserve Zinfandel – $45
This wine is a bold Paso Robles zin. Dark fruit tones, Plumb, dark cherry. Well balanced.

Ancient Peaks 2021 Quarry Sangiovese – $45
best Zinfandel for 2023 holidaysThis zin presents nuanced aromas of black cherry, plum, thyme, and sarsaparilla spice. Sleek herbal textures unfold with flavors of rich red fruits and energetic acidity. Notes of coffee, earthy tobacco, and nutmeg emerge on a supple, rounded finish.

Aron Hill 2021 Estate Primitivo — $52
This estate wine from the Willow Creek AVA  is 100% primitivo, a very close Italian cousin of zinfandel. This wine is distinguished by its graceful exuberance on the palate. Filled with dark fruit aromas that translate to blackberry, black cherry, mocha and cola on the palate. Medium-weight tannins and balanced acidity foster a long, round finish.

Cuatro Dias 2020 Zinfandel – $55
On the nose there are aromas of hibiscus, raspberries, and wet limestone. Violet, black tea, chocolate, and nutmeg on the palate. Pairs well with any Italian dish.

Dubost 2019 Homestead Red – $30
This delightful wine is a blend of 50% sangiovese, 30% grenache, 15% syrah, and 5% mourvèdre. Medium garnet hue. Opaque clarity. Earthy red fruit compote with green peppercorn and slightly muddled fruits, dried clove, and cinnamon on the nose. Bright acidity, soft, medium tannin structure.

Eberle 2021 Barbera – $45
Ripe blueberries, supple figs, and rich blackberry notes mingle with fresh cedar and soft vanilla. The juicy fruit mixed with fine tannin makes this a mouth-watering wine. The sweet raspberry leaves a surprising finish that lingers until your next sip.

Ecluse 2021 Zinfandel – $52
This wine begins with a purple hue. The bouquet of vanilla, blackberry, and strawberry jam is followed by a hint of sweet tobacco and red licorice. These flavors shine on the palate with notes of dried cranberries and baking spice that lead to an incredibly balanced finish with notes of toasted marshmallow and rich fruit flavors.

Hard Working Wines 2022 Pound for Pound Zinfandel – $25
best zinfandel wine for 2023 holidayNotes of Hibiscus flower, dragonfruit, mulberry, blood orange, cinnamon stick, sandalwood. Incredible freshness, palate leads with juicy, fresh fruits. Finish is lively, energetic, and expressive.

Harmony Cellars 2020 Grandpa Barlogio Zinfandel – $33
This wine boasts concentrated flavors of raspberry, boysenberry, and cranberry. Subtle notes of white pepper complement the berry fruit while soft, velvety tannins lead to a lengthy, rich finish. Pairs well with barbecued meats, lasagna, or pizza.

Kula Vineyards 2020 Zinfandel – $39
Beautiful dark purple color and fruit-forward aroma. The raspberry, cherry, and black pepper flavors spread in your mouth.

Linne Calodo 2021 Problem Child – $88
This zin blend as exotic floral aromas of cherry cordial, chaparral and clove spice with enticing feral notes. Vibrant and chewy on the palate with cranberry, blueberry, mineral and white pepper. The finish is flush with fresh acidity and lithe, racy textures. Zinfandel 55%, Grenache 17%, Syrah 10%, Carignan 8%, Graciano 5% and Mourvèdre 5%.

Midnight Cellars 2020 Capriccio Italien Reserve – $68
A beautiful shade of scarlet, with a nose that welcomes you with cardamom, chocolate, and clove with hints of candied cherry, cassis, and dried orange. Bright cranberry, cherry, and boysenberry flavors animate the palate with a warming finish of cinnamon and vanilla. best enjoyed with your favorite Italian cuisine beside the fire on a cool night.

Opolo 2021 Montagna Mare – $38
This barbera and sangiovese blend offers a captivating nose of fresh cherry, dried sage, anise seed, black tea, and vanilla cream. The mouthfeel is supple and spicy, unfurling with red fruit flavors including raspberry and cranberry. Trailing notes of cedar wood, tobacco, and cinnamon are carried by fresh acidity into a juicy, lively finish.

Opolo 2021 Mountain Zinfandel – $32
best zinfandel wine for 2023 holidaysThis wine opens with warm aromas of raspberry, black cherry, dried herb, and sandalwood. A juicy, brambly palate delivers sumptuous flavors of cherry, boysenberry, blueberry, and dark chocolate with a touch of earthy complexity. Lively acidity and peppery spice linger on a bright, energetic finish. It’s an iconic jammy Paso Robles zinfandel.

Peachy Canyon 2019 D Block Zinfandel – $65
D block is a special project where 18 different clones of zinfandel are planted in a random block format, replicating UC Davis’s heritage block of zinfandel. Extremely balanced, with light grainy tannins, nice length, and a full body. Spicy nose of bay leaves, rose petals, white pepper, coriander, and anise opens up to a mouth full of raspberry brambles and strawberry-rhubarb pie.

Peachy Canyon 2020 Mustard Creek – $47
This is a classic blend of zinfandel and petite sirah. The wine has a dark garnet hue and smells of cooked berries and cracked pepper. Lush flavors of chocolate covered cherries and boysenberries coat your tongue and lead to a long, rich finish.

Peachy Canyon 2020 Old Schoolhouse – $48
This 100% Templeton Gap AVA zinfandel offers notes of bright cherry and sweet caramel give way to flavors of juicy ripe berries, cloves, and anise. Medium firm in structure, this wine has a long and balanced finish.

Sculpterra 2019 Figurine – $60
This red blend shows off clean red fruits matched with herbs, spice, and an oaky taste. The primitivo provides red fruit flavors, while the cabernet sauvignon shows off hints of mint and cedar accents; the black cherry flavors come from the merlot grapes, while the medium tannins add to the lengthy finish. Notes of black pepper, green olive, dried herbs, and black coffee fill the mid palate. The fruits show up again on the finish with flavors of raspberry and pomegranate.

Sculpterra 2021 Primitivo – $42
best Zinfandel lwine for 2023 holidaysThis has peppery bouquets, with a new oak toast and a myriad of cola berry flavors. It shows off BBQ-smokey char as well as vanilla and chocolate accents. The finish lingers with marshmallow and graham cracker flavors, ending not too tannic or tart, just smooth and supple throughout the mid-palate and finish.

Seven Angels Cellars 2019 Zinfandel – $40
A full-bodied zin with a ton of fruit on the nose. In addition, it has hints of spice like pepper and anise, with light plum flavors. It’s a delicious sipping wine all alone. It was one of our favorites.

Sextant 2021 Wheelhouse Zinfandel – $24
This wine has intense strawberry, raspberry, and cranberry fruit. Fragrant violets waft on the approach as cinnamon, vanilla, and sage notes weave nuanced layers across the entire palate. This vintage expresses vibrant acidity and pliable tannins with a robust texture and sumptuous finish.

Sextant 2021 Holystone Zinfandel – $36
This zinfandel is best described as rich and intense. Limber tannins and soothing acidity meet a berry heavy sweetness with hints of hickory, sage and thyme. This is the perfect wine to sip while playing games with friends and family.

Steinbeck 2018 Zinfandel –$55
Plum, spices, and cocoa powder on a contemplative nose. The palate is juicy with soft tannins, and flavors of black cherry, tart pluot, dried tarragon, thyme, and lingering dark berries.

Victor Hugo 2021 Estate Zinfandel – $28 
This Zinfandel’s bold and vibrant berry flavors are complimented by elegant tannins with a hint of oak and a crisp finish. On the nose there are intense aromas of ripe blackberries, juicy raspberries, and semisweet chocolate. This wine goes well with any holiday meal but most especially those with rich red sauces. A perfect pairing for pastas and seafood dishes.

Vista Del Rey 2020 ‘Sorbo Ocaso’ Zinfandel — $30
This wine is a delightful sample of dry-farmed zinfandel grapes from long-time local winemaker Dave King. He loves zinfandel and it shows. It’s a big, spicy wine with dark berry, plum, and cherry flavors, but not overly sweet. Drink all by itself or pair it with grilled meats, pizzas, and pastas. Enjoy a glass while decorating for the holidays.

Vista Del Rey 2020 Zin-Bera — $30
A robust mouthful of dry-farmed zinfandel and barbera grapes. The zin provides spicy cherry and berry aromas and flavors, while the barbera adds a backbone of racy acidity. It’s a well-balance, structured wine that is versatile with food dishes.

More local wine recommendations

Publisher’s note: For the 10th year in a row we thought it would be fun to recommend local wines for the holidays. Once again, we received an amazing amount of participation from our local wineries. Over the last two weeks, we received more than 150 entries. Fortunately, there were many solid, well-made wines to recommend. We have created several lists of top local wines into categories. The recommended wines above are in alphabetical order.


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