AKA The Zinfandel Festival, is an epic three day freak out dedicated to Zinfandel. How did this undervalued varietal end up being Largest Single Varietal Wine Festival in the world? Find out in our coverage of the events below!
Epicuria – Zinfandel & Food Pairings
The first night of the ZAP festival was Epicuria, zinfandel and food pairings. This is hands down the best event for a newbie wine drinker. It should be classified as a Zinfandel appreciation event, since you’re likely drinking your wine and enjoying it with your food pairings. In many respects it’s very similar to the grand tasting in layout and sheer selection of zinfandel producers available to taste.
Thoughts On The Event There are several challenges to preparing food without a kitchen and it led to food pairings that were not as strong as they could have been. Additionally, it’s hard to deliver the best pairing when food is confined to being bite size, easy to carry, requiring little preparation and created in large enough volume to satisfy the several hundred attendees. Still, there was plenty of delicious food and wine that worked well together. This would NOT be a fun event for vegetarians; pork, duck and lamb were highlighted.
With that in mind, overall it’s a lot of fun and a better event than the Grand Tasting. With over 50 zinfandels there is more than enough wine to try, and enough space to mingle with the producers and relax with friends. It reminded us a lot of 20something in Seattle.
Zinfandel Flights – Forums of Flavor
The second day of ZAP festival hosts the only true wine tasting event, the Zinfandel Flights. The format is 16 craft zinfandels organized into three tasting groups. With access to all the wines at the same time it’s much easier to compare and contrast them against one another. There is an abundant amount of technical information discussed during the seminar, however, you can comfortably tune it out as needed to focus on the wines.
Someone who’s interested in learning more about zinfandel would feel comfortable attending the tasting, but keep in mind it has a professional spirit. Being able to take it slow and draw your own conclusions from tasting a broad range of premium zinfandels made it such a great experience. It introduced me to several new producers, a few of which are my new favorites that I wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance to try. Also, if you find that you don’t like large crowds… and waiting…this format has more to offer.
Grand Tasting – From A to Zinfandel
We didn’t shoot video of the Grand Tasting at ZAP Festival, it was simply too loud and crowded with so many people in attendance. Instead, just imagine the same footage of open zinfandel bottles over and over again, Madeline with purple teeth, confused and lost in a sea of people.
This event is absolutely overwhelming, even to a pro, everything will eventually start tasting the same and if you swallow at all (to help overcome the stress of the throngs) it’ll be harder and harder to differentiate. I always recommend a quieter tasting where you can talk to producers and take your time, such as Epicuria or the Flights. More photos from the Grand Tasting
Story of the Black Chicken by Bob Biale
During the ZAP Festival, Robert Biale of zinfandel winemaking fame was kind enough to give us a candid interview which led to this delightful anecdote. Not only does he produce some of the best zinfandel that we had at the event, but apparently he’s also a charming storyteller.
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