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Plonking for the Californian

And whatever the experts may say, and despite the Californian sunshine, we think that France is a better country to taste that wine.

india Updated: May 29, 2006 00:35 IST

If the Americans chomping on ‘Freedom Fries’ (washed down with a large Coke) for lunch really wanted to see French blood boiling, there couldn’t have been a better way than this: tasters spitting out French wine to toast Californian instead. In a recontest of an event that took place in Paris 30 years ago, expert palates in a blind tasting yet again rated the products of Californian vineyards to be superior to those from France. Champagne never felt so sour.

But if there’s one more thing that came out of all that sniffing, rolling and spitting -- and slurping and gulping for the less inhibited -- of vintage and modern reds and whites that went on simultaneously in London and California last week, it was this: the great sommelier bluff. Is it possible that the expert judgment was a result of the fact that the judges (incidentally, of an Anglo-Saxon majority) were not allowed the benefit of labels to allow them to differentiate between grapes, vineyards, years, etc. -- and so, just follow their blind taste?

For the lay wine drinker -- who’s just discovered that two glasses of wine can make the world a better place than say, two glasses of whisky -- this contest will have been a morale booster, an indication to never get intimidated by the sommelier offering you a spittoon in a Paris restaurant. And whatever the experts may say, and despite the Californian sunshine, we think that France is a better country to taste that wine -- of your choice, of course.