cultivated muscadine grape vine, 1811, from the name of the river in North Carolina, which is recorded 18c. as Cascoponung, Cuscopang, from an unidentified Native American word.
wine variety originally best known from Alsace and the upper Rhine, 1833, from German Riesling (15c.), the name of the grape, a word of uncertain origin.
1896, "red or white dry California wine," origin uncertain; used earlier as the name of the grape from which it was made (1880). The wine itself is said to have been known in U.S. since 1829. Some wine experts suggest a corruption of the Austrian grape name Zierfandler, though these grapes are not related to those of zinfandel. See this article:
The similarity in the names Zinfandel and Zierfandler arouses some speculation. Modern vine identification systems did not yet exist in 1829, so it is conceivable that the cuttings George Gibbs imported to the USA had never been correctly identified in Austria.
grape variety used for producing red wine, by 1828, generally said to be from French merle "blackbird," from Latin merola, but the reason for the name being given to the grapes is obscure; perhaps from a supposed fondness of the birds for the grapes, or from the dark color of the wine made from it.