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Tasting History

Wine writer and seasonal Vero Beach resident George Taber recalls an extraordinary Paris event

George Taber is flanked by winners Jim Barrett and Warren Winiarski.

George Taber is flanked by winners Jim Barrett and Warren Winiarski.

Forty-three years ago, a writer for Time magazine attended a wine tasting in Paris and found that he was the only journalist there. No one thought it would be much of an event, as the tasting was a competition between French wines and California wines. With California still on the frontiers of winemaking — and with a panel of French judges — the outcome seemed like a foregone conclusion.

Instead, it was a David and Goliath story. When the winners of the blind tasting were announced, the room was filled with the proverbial courtroom murmur — the California wines had emerged victorious. And George M. Taber, the lone writer in attendance, found himself with the scoop of a lifetime.

Now a resident of Vero Beach during the winter months, Taber looks back at the historic event, the ways in which it influenced winemaking, and his own journeys in the world of wine.

“It really was a happenstance that I was there,” says Taber of his presence at the Paris tasting of 1976. He had decided to go in part because the event took place at a hotel near Time’s Paris office, making it conveniently located. “They say it’s better to be lucky than smart, and I was lucky!”