Michael Perlis Discovers: Top Ten Zins

The ebook Top Ten Zins was one of the many recommendations to show up on my Facebook page.
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Skeptically, I clicked through to the website and downloaded the free pdf, expecting to get a short list which I could then proceed to blast with my “superior” Zinfandel expertise, especially when it came to the treatment of some of my favorite Zins.

The first thing that struck me was how long the file took to download, since it was supposedly only to include information on ten wines. In fact, I initially canceled the scan, fearing I had stumbled across some sort of malware.

But, my curiosity eventually got the best of me, and I soon downloaded the file.

Well, that mystery was soon solved, as the ebook is 115 pages, and it covers the top ten Zinfandels in 10 price ranges – brilliant! And a great reminder how versatile the Zinfandel grape can be.

The book does not just contain lists, but tasting notes and other information provided by each winery.

I asked the head of this project, Chris Allen, for more information:

“I think it definitely helps to have a community of regular people offering their opinions, instead of a reviewer’s lone palate.  Not a knock on wine critics; it’s only natural that what Robert Parker likes is going to be a far cry from I like — since he’s been exposed to so much more — just like a music or movie critic can’t help but develop more eclectic tastes than the average audience member.

I like relying on the “wisdom of the crowd” to find the hidden gems out there.

  Ultimately, too, I hope it frees the winemaker from having to taste a barrel sample wondering, “What’s Parker gonna think of this?”

Dividing the wines into distinct pricing categories makes sense to me, too.  You have to have the wines “punch their weight,” or you do a disservice to both the wine lover and maker.  Sugar Ray Leonard would simply never beat Ali in a hypothetical match, but they both have the heart of a champion.  I don’t like using the same 100-point scale for all wine.

There are so many great Zins out there, we also decided to weight the results in favor of availability.  If we had two wines battling for a slot and say one was only 115 cases, which are now gone, how would that really be of any benefit to our community of Zinfandel Enthusiasts?  Sure, it would be a feather in the cap of the winery and the reader might be alerted to be on the lookout for next year’s release, but I’d prefer not to read about a fantastic “Independence Day Sale-abration” on the 5th of July.”

The plan is for the website to be a go-to site for all-things Zin, and the books is to be updated annually.

I am not going to go into details about each list, as I think you should explore it on your own. Most of my favorite wineries [such as Carlisle, Turley, Biale and Outpost] did make appearances, but there are lots of others worth seeking out. I urge anyone, expert or novice, to sign on to this website, get this book and use it and the website as a resource.

Michael Perlis provides outsourced controller services to businesses that do not need a full-time controller. He balances this with his interest in wine: reading and writing about it and, of course, drinking it. He is still trying to figure out how to combine these two pursuits.
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Feel free to contact him about either at mcpfinancial@aol.com or michaelthezinfan@aol.com.

5 thoughts on “Michael Perlis Discovers: Top Ten Zins

  1. I’ve never done this, but I was so impressed that Wilfred Wong, the Cellar Master for Beverage and More (http://www.bevmo.com), commented on this post (via Facebook) that I wanted to share it with our website readers: “I like what you say about this book, I will check it out!

  2. Now, as I got this started, here is a dissenting opinion, from wine judge Bob Foster: “I was very DISAPPOINTED in the book. There is no apparent evaluation of the wines by the authors–only reproduction of the PR releases from the wineries about the wines. I was hoping the authors had done some tasting and then would tells us their notes on the wines. This looks like a compilation not a tasting report. Sigh.”

    And, Wilfred Wong’s reply: “Bob, After I check it out, we can compare notes; your comments are very, very interesting. I respect your opinion in this field.”

  3. This is the last time that I will add comment, as it appears that this discussion is ongoing. I felt it fair to at least include the author’s response. (For more go to: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EveWine101)

    From the author, with his permission (via Michael Perlis): “Hi Mr. Wong & Mr. Foster,

    I appreciate you taking the time to look over our “Top Ten Zins” buyer’s guide, and wanted to address your concern over the lack of tasting notes or reviews.

    Frankly, gentlemen,… I’m sick of tasting notes and reviews. As is the case with label copy, they’re not worth the paper they’re printed on. Just last night, I sampled a Zin whose back label promised a “full-bodied” wine with “dark, rich, ruby color.” When it hit my glass, it looked like a blush.

    The average wine consumer, like me, is fighting two battles when it comes to buying decisions: time and trust.

    If I’m thinking of seeing a movie, I’m not going to take the time to read Roger Ebert’s 2,000-word review; I just want to know if he gave it a “thumbs-up” or “thumbs-down.” We address the time factor in “Top Ten Zins” by giving you a simple list of our 10 favorite Zins in each of 10 pricing levels.

    As far as trust, I’d rather rely on the “wisdom of the crowd” when it comes to wine (especially Zinfandel), because anyone who’s risen to the level of elite wine reviewer is naturally going to have a palate far more sophisticated and nuanced than mine. I don’t pretend to be Robert Parker when it comes to wine, so why should I expect he and I will like the same things?

    I’d rather assemble a group of over 2,000 Zinfandel enthusiasts of all levels — like we’ve done with OldVineZin.com — and ask them to vote for their favorites. No notes, no flavor profiles, no flowery prose… just “thumbs-up” or “thumbs-down.”

    I salute you gentleman and the fine work you do evaluating wine at its highest level, and maintaining a standard of excellence by which all wine should be judged. Our community of Zin lovers, however, is simply interested in passing along our favorites and spreading the word about California’s most under-appreciated varietal.

    A virtual clink of the glass to you both — and rest assured mine is filled with some great-tasting Zin.

    To great Zins and great friends,

    Chris Allen
    Editor and Publisher


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