by Fred McMillin


The two most widely-planted red wine grapes in California are Zinfandel (50,000 acres) and Cabernet Sauvignon (45,000 acres).

I'm going to drink a $15 red wine tonight. Which would taste better, a Zin or a Cab?

The Tasteoff

There's no doubt that Cabernet Sauvignon can produce a greater wine than can the Zinfandel. However, there is considerable doubt that the Cab is the better buy in the $l0-$20 range. To get an idea, my Scott's panel tasted blind nine pairs of equally-priced Cabs and Zins.



Here are the winners (we'll omit the losers).

  • We show the price of the two wines and how much higher the winner was rated (winner's score minus loser's score).
Price of the Pair Winning Margin (Points) WinningVarietal Winning Winery
$7 8 Cab '97 Pionero Cab, Chile (by Racke)
$12 7 Zin '93 Guglielmo Zin, Santa Clara Vly.
$14 16 Zin '94 Belvedere Zin, Dry Creek Vly.
$15 3 Cab '93 Staton Hills Cab, WA
$15 6 Zin '94 Dry Creek Vineyard Zin
$16 4 Zin '95 Davis Bynum Zin, Sonoma County
$18 4 Zin '96 Sonora Zin, Amador County
$20 7 Zin '95 Steele DuPratt Zin, Mendocino
$24 7 Zin '95 La Crema Zin, Sonoma Coast



The Zinfandels won seven out of nine matches. I think I'll have one tonight with my pesto pizza.


Which of the 18 wines won Best of Tasting? It seldom happens but we had a tie.

  • The Amador Sonora and the Sonoma LaCrema Zins tied at the top.
  • Both were rated excellent.

Note: In addition to the above wines, I paired a couple of duds, along with the question, "Which tastes better?"...I liked the note on Dr. Henry Cohen's ballot, which read, Who Cares!


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