The Judgement of Paris in 1976, pitting the up-and-coming California wines against the iconic French wines in a blind tasting contest, was an event where many figured the French wines would punish the California wines, sending the American’s back to the United States with their tails between their legs.
Well, the legendary tasting competition didn’t turn out the way the French thought it would and at the end of the day, California wines were picked as the top Chardonnay (Chateau Montelena) and Cabernet Sauvignon (Stag’s Leap).
The results left the French stunned and introduced the beauty of California wine to the world.
The book, “Judgement of Paris: California vs. France, and the 1976 Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine,” by George Taber is an epic recounting of the events surrounding the contest.
Taber, working for Time magazine and stationed in France, was the lone reporter at the tasting, and he details not only the tasting, but the history of wine in France and California.
The story of the actual tasting doesn’t even begin until 200 pages into the book. Up until then, you get the history of French and California wine, and how the contest came to be held. A great read as to how some of the top wines in the Napa Valley came to be.
There are also fascinating sections about the history of wine in California, including how the region survived through prohibition.
Once Taber takes you through the contest and as the results come in, you’ll enjoy reading about the excuses the French come up with as shock radiates through the wine world. That is, except for people that were knowledgeable about the excellence of California wines.
Taber then takes you from the tasting to the effect it had on wine, not only in France and the United States, but around the world. The book came out in 2005, so the ramification of the tasting takes the reader up until 2004.
If you love wine and enjoy the how the industry has risen throughout time, then this is a must read!
By Dennis Miller