On May 24, 1976, the British wine merchant Steven Spurrier organized a blind tasting of French and Californian wines. Spurrier was a Francophile and, like most wine experts, didn’t expect the New World upstarts to compete with the premiers crus from Bordeaux. He assembled a panel of eleven wine experts and had them taste a variety of Cabernets blind, rating each bottle on a twenty-point scale.
The results shocked the wine world. According to the judges, the best Cabernet at the tasting was a 1973 bottle from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in Napa Valley. When the tasting was repeated a few years later–some judges insisted that the French wines had been drunk too young–Stag’s Leap was once again declared the winner, followed by three other California Cabernets. These blind tastings (now widely known as the Judgment of Paris) helped to legitimate Napa vineyards.
But now, in an even more surprising turn of events, another American wine region has performed far better than expected in a blind tasting against the finest French ch√¢teaus. Ready for the punch line? The wines were from New Jersey.
I’ve known wine snobbery to be bullshit for a while now and this fact was further confirmed this past winter when a friend of mine had a wine tasting party. Everyone was to bring one bottle of red wine and $20 for the blind tasting. The person/couple who’s bottle scored the highest got the pot – $240. The bottle my wife and I brought won. I paid $13 for the bottle.