It wasn’t supposed to be news. It wasn’t supposed to be anything shocking. Everyone else wrote it off so there was no point in writing an article about the 1976 Paris wine tasting competition.
The French knew all there was to know about wine, and California wines didn’t stand a chance. That is what everyone thought. But they were all wrong.
The event was covered by three newspapers, among them and first to publish was George Taber, a reporter for Times Magazine.
Taber spoke about the tasting and his experience as a journalist and writer Feb. 26 in the full T.J. Day Hall.
“Everyone turned down the story, initially. I even turned it down the first time I was invited,” Taber said. “No one wanted to take it because it was what we call in journalism a non-story. Nobody is ever going publish a story about a dog biting a man. It’s only a story when the man bites the dog. And this was clearly going to be a dog bites man story.”
Taber was convinced to attend the event by Steven Spurrier, an English wine shop owner and the event organizer. Thanks to the persuasion, Taber found a “man bites dog” story.
Taber’s four paragraph article written on the event revealed the shocking results of the California wines victory over the French wines in a blind tasting. The story were “the most important words written about wine,” as someone once told Taber.
He wrote a book 30 years after the event about his own experience while at the tasting titled “Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine.”
Since the event, Taber has stepped away from journalism and turned to writing about wine.
Taber’s writing on the world of wine started in 2007 with his book “To Cork or Not to Cork: Tradition, Romance, Science, and the Battle for the Wine Bottle.” The book has earned the Jane Grigson Award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and it was a finalist for best wine book of the year by both the André Simon Award and the James Beard Award.
His third book was released in 2009 and was titled “In Search of Bacchus: Wanderings in the Wonderful World of Wine Tourism.” The book outlined his journey around the world in search of the best wines. Taber traveled to 12 of the world’s best wine regions in six months.
Taber’s most recent work is about the differences between the more expensive wines and what he calls “bargain wines.” He defined bargain wines as those that cost less than $10, and even suggest more than 400 wines to try in his book, “A Toast to Bargain Wines.”
Kaylyn Peterson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.