Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
California, final entry: Zinned out
Saturday morning in San Francisco was the ZAP trade tasting. ZAP stands for Zinfandel Advocates and Producers, and is a festival devoted solely to the grape.
To be clear, I'm talking about the big, inky dark dry red wine, not the cheap, off-dry blush. The trade component started at 10 a.m. and ran until 1 p.m., and the goal was to taste as many Zins as possible in the time allotted. I counted 38 tasting notes made by me, but I definitely tried at least another dozen without taking notes.
A point of clarification, perhaps a bit late: this is wine tasting, not drinking. I spat out nearly every one of those fifty Zins, a common practice among writers, sommeliers, etc. One ounce of Zinfandel x 50 equals nearly two full bottles of wine. Not spitting would be highly unadvisable. There's also fresh bread, cheese, fruit, water, coffee, etc. so that people can mix it up a bit and put something other than Zinfandel in their stomachs.
Oh yes, there were many at the trade tasting who weren't spitting, and by all accounts ZAP tends to be a bit of a gong show, especially during the public segment in the afternoon.
I'm told people come in all forms of costume (I did see one woman at a booth wearing a fake moustache and a plunger on her head), tip back countless Zins and generally get somewhat tipsy and debaucherous. That certainly wasn't the case at the trade tasting, although some were likely on their way. I was curious to peek in on the public tasting but instead grabbed lunch at Gott's Roadside before checking out Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39, where the sea lions hang out.
I almost forgot, the size of the ZAP tasting is incredible - it's at least the size of the Winnipeg Wine Festival yet is solely dedicated to wines made from one specific grape. It's unreal.
That was it for our official duties - our group got together again in the evening for dinner at E&O Trading Company, whose food was sorta Hu's Asian Bistro-ish. Then we said our good byes at the hotel and rolled into bed.
OK, that's it for my California adventures for now - more to come in the column, I'm sure, as well as in this space. My flight home (via Chicago) is boarding shortly, and I need to scarf back a burrito or something before the journey.
Oh yes, and for those interested, the Wilco concert at the Warfield Theatre last night was fantastic - it at least equalled the four other performances I've seen by them.
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About Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson
When he wasn't bashing on a drum kit in local punk rock bands, Ben spent the mid '90s hucking cases of wine around to pay for two English degrees. Now he's the Winnipeg Free Press wine columnist and blogger.
The extent of Ben's wine experience in the mid-90s was memories of accidentally leaving a bottle of White Zinfandel in the freezer overnight, and the ensuing mess he was left with. Between 1996 and 2005 Ben absorbed all he could about wine while working at wine shops to pay for school. Meanwhile, he was churning out papers for his BA and MA in English (from the Universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba, respectively).
Ben became the Winnipeg Free Press' weekly wine columnist in 2005, and two years later joined Wine Access magazine as a contributor, a member of their national tasting panel and a judge at the Canadian Wine Awards and International Value Wine Awards until the magazine closed up shop in 2013.
In 2013 Ben joined the Winnipeg Free Press as a copy/web editor.
Blogs that Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson follows:
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