2016 marks the 40th Anniversary of the Judgement of Paris. This event can sometimes pass Paris by without some local people noticing, which is quite a shame. This year, I attended the event for the 3rd time and was very impressed with the selection, organisation and products on offer.
If you know anything about Greek history, then the title might be familiar. But it might also confuse you. The Judgement of Paris originally refers to Paris the character in Ancient Greek mythology and tells the story of who he thought was the most beautiful goddess in the skies. Sadly, the city of Paris didn’t even exist at this time. The event I attended had nothing to do with Greek legends but actually has nothing to do with Paris either. I absolutely love the title of the event. I think it’s clever while also being mysterious. The Judgement of Paris, is a wine competion. And it’s quite a good one.
The event was first held in 1976 and has been held every year since in Paris. So why do I say, it has nothing to do with Paris. Well, the wine isn’t French. Is this perhaps the reason why it was so overlooked? Who knows. The event started as a test. Some of the best French wine experts where invited to be blindfolded and try 12 American wines from various wine producing regions of California and three French wines. The experts had to pick their favourite. It was a test of both white and red wines. Many of the experts selected the American ones as being the best.
It might sounds like a pretty simple event but 2016 marks the 40th anniversary of when American wine was finally given the acknowledgment that it deserved and was considered to be among the best top quality wine producers in the world. This is a position that it still fights for today. Before the 1970’s it was considered that only wine made in France was good quality or could be considered the best wine in any context. The Judgement of Paris knocked this concept on its head but also represented a shared interest in producing high quality wines in different locations across the world. Prior the 1970’s, American wine was almost exclusively sold in the US and it was very difficult to export it. Not for practical reasons but for marketing and branding reasons. It wasn’t considered very good and no one really wanted it. After the Judgement of Paris, emerging markets for wine producers started to come out of the woodwork. South Africa and Argentina in particular have since established huge fan bases in Europe and in other places.
Wine can make you very happy, we all know that. But it can also break down some barriers. It’s interesing to note that this event was started by an English man and his wife who was an American woman. At the time, in 1976, the French press was invited but they didn’t attend. Probably considering it not to be a worthy event. Fortuntatly for everyone, they were wrong.