By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Jun 01, 2006 at 5:37 AM

In recent Milwaukee Challenges, we've compared beer, coffee, custard and pizza. But pitting Milwaukee's best wines against each other in a taste test was particularly challenging -- because Milwaukee doesn't have any wineries within city limits.

So we expanded our search radius a bit and compared Cedar Creek's Settlement Gold from Cedarburg and Vetro's White Zinfandel from Concord (which is near Sullivan). As the two vineyards closest to Milwaukee, we put their most similar wines to the test -- and the results were unanimous: the five members of our editorial staff, admittedly not connoisseurs, tepidly chose Cedar Creek as the better vino. Here's why:

Julie Lawrence
Staff Writer
Pick: Cedar Creek

With the weather warming and the time for picnics upon us, both the Cedar Creek Settlement Gold and the Vetro White Zinfandel could adequately complement any lunch in the park. Although not a white wine drinker by nature, I'd have to say that the Cedar Creek appealed to my palate more than the Vetro due to its fresh, crisp taste and a sweetness that was at times disguised by the addition of fruit flavors.

While both were very sweet, the Vetro smelled and tasted more like sugar -- actually, more like a wine cooler -- while the Cedar Creek, which hinted at pear and peach, was slightly tangy. Both options might prove to be a bit much on their own, but if a light picnic in the park is in your future, the Cedar Creek is a refreshing choice.

Drew Olson
Senior Editor
Pick: Cedar Creek

It wasn't really close. The Zinfandel looked cloudy in the glass and the texture was a bit on the oily side. The taste wasn't horrible. It could stand up to a strong-tasting fish, but it wasn't something I'd go out of my way to buy. The Cedar Creek offering was more clear and it had a hint of a tropical fruit flavor that made it seem like a solid choice for dessert or for starting out the evening at a backyard barbecue.

Molly Snyder Edler
Staff Writer
Pick: Cedar Creek

Being a red wine drinker, I was not particularly fond of either bottle. Both were light in color and looked promising in the glass, but neither was worth a second sip, in my opinion. They were both way too sweet and it took way too long to rid my mouth of their aftertaste. If trapped on a desert island with only one of the two bottles, I would probably pick the Cedar Creek because it was a less syrupy. But then again, drinking wine in the blazing, hot sun is never a good idea -- even if it sounds like one at the time.

Bobby Tanzilo
Managing Editor
Pick: Cedar Creek

Although the Cedar Creek Settlement Gold -- which is made from a blend of Seyval Blanc and Vidal grapes from New York -- had a sweeter aroma, the Vetro White Zinfandel was the sweeter, fruitier wine and had a more pleasingly golden color and more alluring body. The Vetro Zin however had a touch of alcohol in the aroma, perhaps due to the fact that its alcohol content is two points higher than the Cedar Creek.

While both would do best paired with desserts rather than with main courses, neither is terribly pleasing as a stand-alone quaff. To me there isn't a hands-down winner or loser, but in a pinch I'd choose the Cedar Creek.

Andy Tarnoff
Pick: Cedar Creek

I'm sad to say that this was a choice of the lesser of two evils. Both wines reminded me of a screw-top bottle of Boone's I bought back in college. But once I got over the memory of that hangover, the Cedar Creek was generally more pleasant and drinkable. It was significantly more fruity that the Vetro, which had a bitter aftertaste. While the Vetro actually smelled more like a white wine, it was unexpectedly sweet and carbonated. In short, it tasted extremely cheap.

The Cedar Creek basically tasted like the syrup in a can of fruit cocktail, but had flavors that reminded me of a Pinot Grigio. It also tasted cheap, but wasn't especially offensive -- just somewhat blasé. I'd take it to a picnic or drink it with a dessert -- but only if it was the only wine available.