Over the past five years, I’ve been to a lot of food and beverage related events all over the country. One of my favorite parties, hands down, is ZAP, the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers festival. I always look forward to the final weekend in January, when the festival takes place. From attending ZAP I’ve not only learned a ton about wine, but I’ve also developed an extreme appreciation for Zinfandel. It’s my favorite red varietal! The best thing about ZAP is that most of the wineries involved are at the event to have a good time. There’s hardly any pretentious wine snobbism and one can openly ask questions without feeling stupid. You also get to taste a ton of amazing Zin, from super-aged old vine Zins to just-bottled barrel samples.
The festival consists of several days of events, but the two I recommend checking out are the Thursday night Epicuria Wine and Food Pairing and Saturday’s Grand Tasting. Although it’s not technically a contest, at the walk-around food and wine tasting it’s fun to figure out which pairing is the best. Over 40 wineries pair up with a restaurant and the wine makers work with the chefs to develop the most harmonious bite and sip combination. I still remember the best bite from 2010: it was an amazing wild boar slider. It was juicy, meaty, and had the most addictive creamy aioli that paired perfectly with Zin.
On Saturday, festival goers can taste over 300 Zinfandels. By the end of the day, this event ends up being somewhat of a shit show, but in the best kind of way. Everyone’s lips and teeth are purple and people are high on Zin. I suggest checking out the list of producers who will be in attendance, then pick out the ones you want to taste. Normally the wineries are set up in alphabetical order, so you can pop from one winery to another easily.
Every time that I’ve taken part in ZAP it’s been at the picturesque Fort Mason location, but this year it’s taking place at The Concourse on 8th and Brannan. I’m sure the new setting will make for a wonderful wine experience. Hope to see you there!