Bottle Shock: Screwtop Edition

Call me French but comparing France and California is a little like comparing apple and oranges. In my biased French opinion, of course. Yes, California is roughly the size of France and yes the West Coast state has about the same global economic heft as my homeland. In economic terms, if California were its own country, it would be the 5th largest economy in the world. France is at best number 6 or 7 depending on the year. But we’re not talking about GDP in this post, we’re talking wine and cheese!

Well, as it turns out, California, in addition to being a heavy weight in economic terms, is also a heavy weight in the wine world. Indeed, California alone is responsible for some 90% of all the wine produced in the US and if it were its own country, it would be the fourth biggest wine-producer in the world with some 1,200 vineyards turning out everything from mass produced bottles of $7 Korbel sparkly to world class pinot noirs. Ever since the 1976 “Great Vinous Smackdown” known as the Judgement of Paris, France has had to come to terms with the fact that it is not longer THE player in the international wine arena, but just A player. Of course, you’ll never hear a French girl admit that 😉

The movie Bottle Shock retraces the early days of California wine making
leading to the 1976 “Judgement of Paris” blind tasting.

In a fun, local rematch of the legendary tasting which saw California Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons beat out their French equivalents in a blind tasting, Screwtop Wine Bar is throwing a France vs California Wine & Cheese Throwdown on Sunday March 28 (6:30-8pm, $59 per person). Six wines and six cheeses will go head to head (and possibly to my head too) during this special class/tasting. Now, I’m willing to accept the wine challenge but I’m going to go on the record questioning the cheese portion of the throw down. I know that happy cows come from California but c’mon, French cheeses have their own laws! Oh my… I’m starting to sound like Steven Spurrier – the overconfident organizer of the “Judgement of Paris” wine tasting… not the football player. I hope that’s not a bad omen for my dear fromages!

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