Sunday, January 29, 2006

ZAP 2006 (Zinfandel)

An officeworker was telling me how there was no difference after he got married. There was a big brouhahaha for six months caused by the wedding, but after the wedding, life went on. As my teacher told us a few months ago, life is a cycle. You need to create special moments every week, every month so that you continue to celebrate the life that you are leading.

Celebration is an excellent opportunity to discuss ZAP the Zinfandel Festival" in San Francisco. Held at Fort Mason, the festival attracts a lot of wine aficionados and lushes. With over 300 wineries and 10,000 visitors, one would think that this would be a recipe for disaster. Except for the slight rain, it was a wonderful tour of America's varietal.

We were fortunately escorted by the Chatelaine and her husband Tom. Now if you don't know her, you should know that along with Tom, the Chatelaine is the foremost wine connoisseur this side of the Pacific. Her knowledge of wine and vinography is extensive. Refer to her forthcoming blurb book project and search for the entries on Guiness Book of World Record holders.

On to the festival. As you walk in, you are thrown a glass and a baguette. I imagine that this is how the French are born into the world. As the baby comes out, it is given a wineglass and a baguette. And, you are left alone to search and taste over 300 wineries.

As I have learned and drank my fair share of bottles of wine, I have learned some things. More often than not, I like Cabernets. They have a wonderful body and taste. I like my wine to come forth and have a conversation with me. As a Ravenswood motto stated: No wimpy wine or "Nullum Winum Wimpimium"

Apparently, the ripening of zinfandels is notoriously uneven. In a particular stalk one might have a grape that is almost a raisin while another grape is just beginning to ripen. However, in California's long even temperate weather, the zinfandel does well enough that wine can be made from the varietal.

If you are ever going to go for zinfandels, the top two from yesterday's soiree were Rosenblum and Ravenswood.

Now, I would like to think that if I were a winemaker, I would do my best to produce the best wines possible. You would think that all the participants would do the same thing. Sadly, no. The result of course is that no one will visit the winemaker at their booth. What will happen is the winemakers and assistant end up drinking their own wine. And if the winemaker is truly lucky to find someone who is nice enough, they will get a pity tasting. That's right. A pity tasting. So you winemakers out there, listen up. You should get a beautiful woman behind that counter if your wine is bad. And pay her a lot of money if your wine is truly bad because all the sales you will get is because guys like me gave a pity tasting.

To be fair, perhaps some of the wines were meant to be used in cooking. After all, how can one make red wine sauce without red wine? That certainly is a possibility. There was another booth where the counter-man said that the wine is excellent for the bread. Excellent point! Perhaps, there are people out there who are alcoholics who eat bread with wine!!! Why ruin a steak or a BBQ with wine?

Now, this one pity taste I had almost got it. There was a good entry, but no middle and definitely, there was a blackhole at the end sucking up every good cheer I have. Now remember, I had a baguette and tons of delicious cheese. The event was hopping and skipping for opportunity. With blue cheese and brie, how can a winemaker go wrong?

I should mention that there was another booth where they described their wine as "GRUMPY WINE". I tried it and liked it for the first sip. But, on the second sip, I was flustered. What happened? I thought it was one thing. By the second sip, it was another. No wonder it was grumpy. And unlike cabernets, the smell of the majority of zinfandels that I tried were very subtle. As I said, subtle does not work in my brain.

I can't imagine having to taste really bad wine after really bad wine. It just seems like torture. Maybe I will give these winemakers some advice. Hire a really good chemist with a great nose and tongue. It really is a rare commodity. But if you find one, it will be a great year.

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