Wine lovers, allow me to introduce you to Zinfandel. I, like many of you, knew little about this deep purple wine grape. In fact, I always associated Zinfandels to the crisp, blush rose wines I typically enjoyed in the summer. I’m a wine “drinker” not a wine “expert”.
Recently, I learned that there are whole variety of robust red wines that are ALSO Zinfandels. Rather than read up on the lengthy history of Zin, I decided to educate myself on the wine in the best possible way: by tasting it!
Zinfandel Experience set in the Presidio overlooking the San Francisco Bay provides the ultimate venue to casually stroll around, sample wines, and chat with wine makers and growers. ZAP (Association of Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) has hosted the most prestigious single varietal wine event that’s been educating, promoting and preserving the heritage of Zinfandel for 24 years. Nadia G’s even been to #ZinEx back in 2011!
I’m a little embarrassed that I knew nothing about Zin, honestly. Onwards.
As a newbie like myself, I was most appreciative to be invited to learn about the wine variety and sample some of the best wine I’ve had up to date. Winemakers were all too happy to answer any questions I had, complete with the occasional earnest wine connoisseur jumping in with little tidbits as well. (Zin tastes different depending which California wine region it’s from, fun fact.)
#ZinEx was also one of the more organized events I’ve been too. Sometimes festivals that involve wine can get a little messy as guests often rush the venue at the same time (and taste everything really quickly in fear that the wine will run out). Zinfandel lovers are classy folks.
On to the important stuff: the wine! The lovely thing about being a novice is that I can walk into an event and base my top favorites on what I truly liked, rather than base my choices on hype or notoriety. I don’t know who the popular kid in the room is and so you can expect me to be as naïvely honest as possible.
2012 Zinful Cab
I discovered that this Cab and Zin blend was the cheaper option after I told the lovely lady manning the Barton Family Wines station that it was my favorite. Scores! I love a great-tasting, affordable wine. It marries the aromatic flavors traditionally associated with a Cab with the pleasant sweet berry-like zest of the Zin SO perfectly. I was bummed that they didn’t have any bottles for purchase because I probably would have left with a few.
2012 Earthquake Zinfandel
I was torn between 7 deadly Zins and this slightly higher priced wine from the Michael David Winery. On one hand, the 7 Deadly Zins packs an really impressive punch when you first take a sip. There was no shortage of berry and spice to it. The Earthquake Zin was darker, spicier and I tend to like rich wine a little more. Also incredibly delicious, smooth and equally as sinful was the Lust Zinfandel. But as its price suggests ($59) it may be best to keep this one for those special nights.
RB Cellars Swingsville Zinfandel
I really loved this one because I was able to try a barrel sample, something I’ve only had the luxury to do back home with my uncle’s private stash. This was not only full of dark juicy berry flavors, but it also had those spicy notes that I love with my reds. Tasting it from the barrel allows winemakers to sort of check in on the wine as it develops. It’s mostly a learning experience from what I’m told. A tasty learning experience.
Long has the popularity of Merlots and Cabs topped people’s list for favorite wines, hell, even Pinot Noirs and Grenaches. Thanks to events like #ZinEx, I’m thrilled that I can bump those off the coveted #1 spot and add a deep, dark and delicious Zinfandel instead. Thank you, ZAP.
Cheers to being different.