By Jason DeRusha

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — You can count on 75 beers and 350 wines to be poured Saturday and Sunday inside Target Field at the Minnesota Monthly Food & Wine Experience. But before they pour, they’re judged.

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Bill Abrahamson from Top Ten Liquors, Kyle Bille from North Loop, Mitch Zavada from South Lyndale and Bill Belkin from Lunds and Byerly’s are tasting a lot of wine.

More than 100 bottles labels are hidden, so the wine pros don’t let the labels influence their scores.

“What’s nice is it’s blind, and so everything has an even playing field,” Abrahamson said.

The challenge is that all of these are widely available, so these aren’t boutique-y, super-expensive wines. As one of the experts put it, “it’s much more difficult to find a great $12 bottle of wine than it is $40.”

The best zinfandel was just $17 — the Brazin Bold Vine Zin.

“We tasted the Syrah category and I thought it was far and away the best category,” Abrahamson said. “And yet when you go to the stores, it’s not what people are buying.”

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Best of Show: Yangarra Shiraz at $22.

The best value: Boomtown Dusted Valley Syrah at $15.

Best Value Merlot: Powers Columbia Valley at $12.

How about some whites?

Best of Show Chardonnay: Flora Springs at $24.

“I personally will learn from this — I’m no dummy,” Belkin said. “I’ll go put this in Lunds and Byerly’s if it’s a good value and I’m going to be able to sell them.”

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Still are tickets available.

Jason DeRusha