Though some trace Zinfandel's genetic origin back to Southern Italy's Primitivo (though no one is precisely sure of its origin), Californians have considered Zinfandel to be exclusively their grape for more than a century. In fact, other than a few producers in Australia and South Africa, this extraordinarily versatile red grape varietal is grown nowhere else but in the U.S. of A. It's a beautiful grapeā€”big, fat, dark-blue berries that are sweet and juicy. In the 1970s it garnered a huge following when Gallo released a slightly sweet, light-bodied version called White Zinfandel, but now that the White Zinfandel fad has passed, California winemakers are again producing "big Zins" packed with dark berry, cherry fruit, and enough backbone to pair with beef, game, sausage, pizza, or any other hearty, peppery dish. A grape-of-all-trades, it can also be made into a late-harvest port-style wine or a lighter-bodied claret-style wine. At its best, Zinfandel is a rich, robust, fruity wine with loads of blueberry and black cherry aromas, hints of licorice and raspberry, and a wonderfully peppery bite. Because it has such a high Brix level, it's often high in alcohol and has an unmistakably warm finish. It's mostly planted in Northern California, with the best wines coming from the cooler coastal regions.