A FEW years ago, only Californians and Italians had anything good to say about Zinfandel, or Primitivo as it’s alternately called, but over the last decade it’s exploded into our lives and in a good way as long as you don't pick up a bottle of "blush Zinfandel". The latter should be labelled as a crime against humanity and teeth.

Zinfandel is in essence a big robust style of wine with enough individual character to ensure that even beer drinkers can distinguish it from merlot. The Californian ones are dominated by blackcurrant flavours with hints of spice and the other defining characteristic used to be high alcohol levels. I say "used to be" because it seems that virtually every red wine coming from the New World these days is a whopper, much to the chagrin of migraine sufferers like myself.

The difference between the wines produced on the different continents is quite distinct, however, with the Italian versions leaning more towards raspberry and dark cherry flavours although the spice is just as much in evidence. It's no wonder that the rows raged for years as to whether these two grapes were in fact the same but both styles are well worth a look if your tastebuds are stuck in a rut – especially if you're eating pasta.

San Marzano ‘Il Pumo’ Primitivo, Italy

Definitely one of the best introductions to the Italian style with loads of soft juicy plums, black cherries and a touch of vanilla on the finish.

Pop Wines £12

Carnivor Zinfandel, California

A wonderfully opulent nose with a lush palate of blackberries and dark warm cherries. The palate can actually be a little overpowering on first taste as this is a lot of wine for the price, but pair it with a bit of steak and all is well with the world.

Majestic £11.99 or £8.99 mix six