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The Great American Wine Tasting Debate

Updated: May 19, 2020

American flag and glass of white wine

Debate season is in full swing for the 2020 Presidential election so why not spice it up and have an American Wine Tasting Debate party?! There is no better time to celebrate all that America has to offer, including great wine.

A Little Presidential Wine History

Did you know that America has a long history with wine? In 1619, at the meeting of the first representative assembly in English America, “Acte 12” was passed which required colonists to plant vineyards. The Acte 12 Chardonnay from Williamsburg Wines commemorates this event.

George Washington had a particular love for Madiera (a fortified, Portuguese wine) which dates back to 1759. He would order a pipe of Madiera. A pipe is basically a barrel that can fill about 700 bottles of wine. When you can’t get wine on demand, this is how you play it.

Thomas Jefferson famously loved everything to do with wine. While he was Minister to France, he fell in love with French wine and learned everything he could even down to the best soil for growing grapevines. He brought this knowledge back to America and with a friend tried to start a winery in Virginia that unfortunately didn’t find success in their lifetimes.

Needless to say, he continued to buy the good stuff as the book 1607: Jamestown and the New World explains. “Elected president in 1801, Jefferson spent $10,000 [in 1607 dollars], a fortune, for wines during his administration.”

American Wine Takes a Foothold

The wine industry in America had its fits and starts. By 1875 California wine started to become popular across the country. Then in 1919 prohibition changed the game. The commercial production of wine stopped, but it was still legal to produce wine for home consumption. This meant the California wine grapes were still in demand. Lucky for us the grapevines were not ripped out to make way for another type of crop.

Once prohibition ended in 1933, it took another 30-40 years to rebuild the winemaking knowledge necessary for high-end commercial wines.

The 1976 blind tasting in France, known as the “Judgment of Paris,” put California wine on the world stage when American wine beat out French wine. From that point on there was no looking back. Watch the movie Bottle Shock which chronicles the events and stars Chris Pine.

Why not taste the success of American winemaking and debate the subtleties of wine from these top regions?!

The Great American Wine Tasting Debate

These 4 wine regions dominate the American wine scene. Taste, compare, debate and appreciate our American wine heritage with any of these 4 different tastings.

Affiliate links are included for your convenience. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I’ll earn a small amount. Your cost is the same with or without the link. Enjoy!

Tasting 1: Regional Best Wine Tasting Debate

Each of the 4 regions has unique soil and growing environments that are well-suited for a particular type of wine grape. Taste the top wine styles from each region: Riesling (Finger Lakes, NY), Chardonnay (Columbia Valley, WA), Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, OR), Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, CA).

Tasting 2: Chardonnay Tasting Debate

Go head-to-head in this tasting with a Chardonnay from Washington (Columbia Valley), Oregon (Dundee Hills), and California (Napa Valley).

Tasting 3: Riesling Tasting Debate

Riesling performs very well not only in New York (Finger Lakes region), but also in Washington (Columbia Valley), and Oregon (Willamette Valley).

Tasting 4: Cabernet Sauvignon Tasting Debate

Compare Cabernet Sauvignon from 2 regions in California (Napa Valley & Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley) and Washington (Columbia Valley).

Tasting Mats

We’ve created some great tasting mats for each of the 4 Tastings. They include tasting notes from the winemakers along with a few notes from acclaimed wine critics. Download American Wine Debate Tasting Mats here:

Download PDF • 816KB

Image of Tasting Mat for the Regional Best Tasting. Shows an American Flag with 4 circles to place wine glasses and wine descriptions below each circle.

Tasting Debate Wrap Up

With the presidential debates in full swing, let’s pay homage to the history and success of American wine. Host an American Wine Tasting Debate party to discuss the subtleties and differences of wine from the great American wine regions. And if you actually want to watch the debates too, here is a schedule of the debates.

Sources: Acte 12: Washington & Madiera: & Jefferson & Wine: Jefferson Vineyards & 1607: Jamestown and the New World American Wine History: The American Experience


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