With this month marking the 40th anniversary of the Judgment of Paris – the infamous blind tasting that put California (and the U.S.) on the international wine map – there will no doubt be many great stories commemorating this historic event. So instead of rewriting what everyone else is writing, here’s a compilation of pieces you should read. Since the actual anniversary isn’t until May 24, I’ll do my best to update this post as stories are published.
So let’s get started:
- That Revolutionary May Day in 1976 When California Wines Bested France’s Finest by Owen Edwards at Smithsonian.com is a good overview piece and includes a few winery-produced videos giving perspective from those who were there that day.
- Dave McIntyre’s The wine tasting that shocked the world – and forever changed what we drink in The Washington Post includes interviews with the Napa pioneers and brings the past into the present.
- The San Diego Union Tribune’s Michele Parente takes us inside a February invitation-only tasting at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in her tribute: Napa marks Judgment of Paris that put it on wine map.
- Judgment of Paris: 40 years after the tasting that changed wine world, is not just a history lesson. “Pour Man” columnist Michael Austin tastes through the 2013 vintage of the winning wines and shares his notes in The Chicago Tribune.
- Although it’s not a news piece, napavalley.com has put together 40 Facts for the 40th Anniversary and a fun Fact Vs. Fiction piece about the movie Bottle Shock, which tells the Judgment of Paris story (and is one of my favorite movies).
- Bloomberg’s Elin McCoy does a few things in her piece: Why One Seismic Event in the Wine World Still Matters 40 Years Later. She starts out by reporting on a new movie in the making, and then as the headline suggests, answers her question “Why is the world still obsessed with this tasting?” She ends with a do-it-yourself guide to creating your own tasting to celebrate.
- Many of these stories include historical images, but WTOP – a Washington, D.C., news radio station – has compiled them into a single photo gallery that’s worth clicking through: 40 years later, Smithsonian celebrates pivotal moment in wine history.
- Leave it to the Judgment’s hometown newspaper to find a fascinating character to write about: Joanne Depuy. As she tells Napa Valley Register’s Tim Carl: “I introduced both of the winning wines to Steven Spurrier, and I even transported the wines over to Paris for the tasting for him.” (Uhoh – that means one of my favorite scenes in the Bottle Shock movie may also be fiction!) Read more about her story in: The woman behind the Judgment of Paris.
- Wine Enthusiast is marking the anniversary by telling you which wineries to go visit and telling you what’s new, but the more interesting bits are at the bottom under fun facts! Did you know that the winning Stag’s Leap Cabernet included one percent Pinot Noir? Read more in The Judgment of Paris Turns 40.
- Esther Mobley of the San Francisco Chronicle takes the cynical position that someone sitting in the center of a news subject always does in Why the Judgment of Paris really matters (and why it doesn’t). But she provides an interesting perspective that makes this a good read and some balance to all the other pieces celebrating the anniversary.
- So many anniversary stories on the actual day (I’m typing this on the 24th!), but I’ll end this list by highlighting one that’s a little close to home. I encouraged NPR colleague Maria Godoy, who runs the NPR food blog, to introduce listeners and readers to the Judgement of Paris. She did a fabulous job – including an interview with George Taber – in The Blind Taste Test That Decanted The Wine World.
If you spot a good #judgmentofparis piece that’s not included here, tweet me: @itswinebyme. (Last updated May 24, 2016)