I love Zinfandel. Sometimes I get into a space where nothing else will do. In spite of all the complaints about its being high octane and sometimes sweet, I just love that bright mouthful of berries.I just check the alcohol before I buy and avoid those brands that have been boozy or sweet in the past. We’ll take a good look at Zin before the ZAP festival, which starts on the 31st and goes through February 2nd. ZAP, by the way, is short for “Zinfandel Advocates and Producers” and this annual tasting is what many people look forward to as the greatest tasting event of the year. If you live in the Bay Area or plan to be in the area at the end of the month the ZAP festival can be a wonderful, if somewhat dangerous, diversion and a chance to try some really fine Zins you haven’t tasted before. Dangerous, because more of us will go to the Grand Tasting, on Saturday the 2nd, than any other event and there are a bazillion wineries represented there. It takes some serious self control to prevent it from morphing into a Zin blowout that results in equally serious cotton mouth and monster headache later on. To survive, you need to be selective. As much as you love your favorite brands, why not focus on trying something new whether by brand or by region? For instance, how many of you have tried a Zin from the Lodi AVA? Visit my friend, Jon’s table – Pantheon Cellars. Alder Yarrow, of Vinography, offered some good advice for holding your own at the tasting a few years back and I’ll cherry pick some of the items below:
- Spit the entire tasting – The ZAP folks give you a large red plastic cup for this purpose. Use it or you will lose you objectivity very quickly (remember most of these wines are between 15 and 16% ABV). Let me add some advice for those who haven’t spit at a tasting before: Spit into the side of the cup, not the bottom, and you’ll avoid unpleasant backsplash!
- Eat and drink plenty of water – Bottled spring water, bread and plenty of cheese are strategically placed around the floor. When you break, eat and drink a bottle or two of water.
- Wear dark closes you won’t mind donating after the tasting – I’ll be wearing a black mock turtleneck and blue jeans appearing as a wine tasting Steve Jobs. These dark colors will hide the inevitable spills you or someone else around you will splash your way. Don’t wear white or something new.
- Don’t wear cologne, perfume or any other product with strong aromas – Classic wine tasting etiquette. You’d be surprised how many people don’t comply with this one.
- Eat a hearty breakfast or lunch but nothing spicy – Before tasting so many wines it’s important to have a full stomach.
Let me add that it’s smart to take a cab or get a DD for obvious reasons.Send me your wine question and I’ll get back to you in a jiffy!