As its light pink color reveals, white zinfandel is in fact a rose rather than a true white wine. Its flavor is sweet and fruity, which makes it a common "starter wine" for novice drinkers who enjoy the sweetness of carbonated beverages and fruit juices. White zinfandel should be served colder than most white wines, so its sweetness never becomes cloying.
Refrigerate room-temperature white zinfandel at least 60 to 90 minutes before you wish to serve it. If you're hosting an impromptu gathering, and don't have time to refrigerate the wine, use an ice bucket instead. Fill the bucket with ice, than add a handful of salt and top it up with enough water to come at least halfway up the bottle. Rotate or swirl the bottle periodically for approximately 20 minutes.
Open the wine and pour a small glassful. Taste it to ensure it's cold enough to be refreshing, despite its sweetness. If you wish, use an instant-read food thermometer to measure the temperature. Most white wines are best at temperatures of 45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, but only the best white zinfandels are palatable at 45 F. Sweeter white zins are best served at 35 to 40 F, because the chill moderates their sweetness.
Pour the wine when it reaches the correct temperature. Some retailers sell glasses specifically intended for rose, but any white wine glass will also work.
Serve the white zinfandel with relatively light foods. A well-balanced white zinfandel, with acidity to balance its sweetness, goes well with creamy pasta dishes, and rich pork or salmon. The sweetness of unrepentantly off-dry white zins provides a suitable foil for spicy Asian, Indian or Creole dishes, and it complements the sweet and nutty flavors of shellfish and mild cheeses.
You should drink white zinfandel within about six months after purchasing it. Unlike some other wines, it's best when new and doesn't benefit from aging.
White zinfandel is also a suitable choice when you're serving a widely varied spread of appetizers or tapas. It won't necessarily complement every single one of your finger foods, but -- unlike most other wines -- its own character isn't assertive enough for it to clash dramatically with anything, either.
Morgan O'Connor has been writing professionally since 2005. Her experience includes articles on various aspects of the health-insurance industry for health-care newsletters distributed to hospitals as well as articles on both international and domestic travel.