American Wine Idol

Cowell_narrowweb__300x426,0The brouhaha over the botched attempt to recreate the Paris tasting of 1976, where Steve Spurrier pitted some California wines against some of France’s best and low-and-behold; the California wines won, shows how far we have sunk when it comes to appreciating wine. American bloggers are raging against what they see as the cowardly French, while ignoring the ego battles between the Americans.

We have finally reduced wine to a competition instead of a pleasure. Why not go all the way?

Fox Network should be working on what will be a hot new reality show: American Wine Idol. The formula is set already. You’ll need three celebrity judges just like the current American Idol show. I would propose the following three:

  • For the sharp tongued Simon Cowell slot: Pierre Rovani
  • For Paula Abdul’s role:  Andrea Immer Robinson
  • For the affable Randy Jackson’s spot: we’re still looking for the wine critic to fill this role

Then, just like the singers, you bring the winemakers out on stage, whose wines are then tasted and ripped apart on national television by our celebrity panel. At the end, the viewers vote on which winemakers are given the boot. Finally, the winning wine gets a national distribution deal as a wine by the glass at all the Four Seasons Hotels and a guaranteed 95 point or higher score in The Wine Spectator for the next five vintages.

This is the direction we are taking wine appreciation. While everyone is bemoaning the fact that this contest was not recreated, they should be really asking themselves if this is how they want wines to be judged?

While hearing that great gentleman of wine, Michael Broadbent, speak at a seminar last summer, I was particularly struck by one of his comments. He recounted a conversation with the owner of Chateau Haut Brion, who was complaining of how wines are rated these days. That gentleman noted that he made his wine to go with food; not Chateau Latour. It’s true, we have become more obsessed with how wines taste with other wines than how they taste with the food on our plates.