Talk Colorado Wine & Colorado's Wine Country: Aftershocks from 'Judgment of Paris:' Wine Goes Commercial

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Aftershocks from 'Judgment of Paris:' Wine Goes Commercial

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Wine Critic Dave DeSimone examines some of the far-reaching reverberations from the 1976 "Judgment of Paris," that now legendary blind tasting that had California wines triumphing over French wines. While the wines were Californians, the ramifications were global in reach.

Under the headline, "Tasting Accelerates Trends in Wine," DeSimone writes:

"On the negative side, wine was displaced in consumer perception as a humble meal-time beverage that springs naturally from the culinary and cultural context of native terroir. Instead, wine entered an insidiously expansive maelstrom of commercial competitions and comparative ratings.

"A new breed of American 'wine critics,' issuing pronouncements based on the infamous 100-point scale, fueled the change while diminishing the traditional wine writing approach of conveying context and winemaker backgrounds. Rejoicing retailers parroted facile numerical ratings for easy sales. Educating consumers about diverse wine styles, vintages and terroir became secondary.

"Ratings-besotted consumers, in turn, lapped up the hype. Firsthand, personal experience quickly faded as the bedrock foundation of confident judgment and taste in wine.

"A corresponding homogenized, "international" wine style emerged. Overly extracted, showy wines attracting consistently high numerical ratings came into vogue. Balance, elegance and finesse -- wine's traditional hallmarks of excellence -- were threatened as "blockbuster," 90-point wines commanded price premiums. Snobs exalted "trophy wines" in crassly commercial auctions while ignoring wine's age-old questions: How does wine taste, and do I like it?"

You can read the rest of the article here.

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