GRE General Test: RC-786906 GRE Reading Comprehension

Although viticulture was already an established trade in many parts of the world, until the 1970s, New World wine -- particularly that of California -- was not taken seriously internationally, especially in France. Steven Spurrier, a British expatriate and Parisian wine merchant, organized The Judgment of Paris in 1976, in which a panel of nine French judges selected Californian wines for the best cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay. It was difficult to dismiss the results; only the scores of top expert French judges had been used in the final tally. Furthermore, the Californian wines had been transported in personal luggage while the French bottles had been properly stored locally. Spurrier later admitted that he had been certain of the superiority of French wine and had done his best to tilt the contest in their favor.

As news began to spread of the results, the impact of the tasting became apparent. Leaders of the French wine industry were outraged at the results, and the French press was both slow to respond and dismissive of the event. The only journalist who witnessed the event, George M. Taber of Time magazine, published an article about the tasting and word quickly spread. Viticulture in California spread rapidly, and exports to many countries besides France skyrocketed. Many criticisms of the methodology of the tasting were soon raised, particularly the assertion that French wines aged better than those of California. However, repeat blind tastings in 1978, 1986, and 2006 of the same vintages all favored the same Californian wines.
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