History was at the heart of the kickoff dinner for the Sugar Land Food & Wine Affair at the Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land.
While a giant digital globe animated above and a dinosaur held court, the sold-out crowd’s oenophile skills were put to the test. The evening’s theme, “Judgment of Paris” mimicked the 1976 tasting event of the same name, pitting French wines against California wines in the ultimate Old World, New World wine battle.
The updated and much less serious version of "Judgment of Paris" began with mystery white wines poured at each table. After sniffing, swishing and sipping, guests rated the wines on a scale from one to five, taking into consideration things like complexity and finish.
"I wanted to connect the history of that event to the dinner’s location and museum was a perfect way to tie them together.”
Guests went through the same steps with cloaked red wines, tallying up scores in between the four-course meal of micro greens and bruleed goat cheese salad, poached sole and asparagus and beef in a bordelaise sauce.
Master of Ceremonies and foodie radio host John DeMers announced the winning wines, but unlike the original contest where California’s 1973 Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon and 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay trumped their French counterparts, the museum crowd amicably split the contest.
The Reynolds Family Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon garnered the most votes with Domaine Darnat Chardonnay.
“When you go to a wine event, first and foremost, you are there to have fun. There was a real sense of camaraderie at our table as we tasted the wines,” DeMers said. “The original event was very important in the history of French and California wines.”
The idea to add a touch of Paris to the opening dinner was the creation of Krystal Peay, director of the Sugar Land Food & Wine Affair. The five-day festival benefits the Conrad Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston and Peay, a UH graduate, was inspired by a field trip to Napa when she was a student.
“We were on the bus watching Bottle Shock, a movie about the tasting and I fell in love with the movie. I wanted to connect the history of that event to the dinner’s location and museum was a perfect way to tie them together,” Peay said.