The Judgment of Princeton

4 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2017

See all articles by Phillip E. Pfeifer

Phillip E. Pfeifer

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business


The case descirbes a wine-tasting competition held in Princeton, New Jersey, in 2012. The competition pitted the best wines from New Jersey (NJ) against the best wines from France in blind taste tests. The case stops after the scores of nine judges tasting 20 wines have been recorded. Students are asked to take these 180 scores and determine the best red and best white and to also compare the performance of the 12 NJ wines to the 8 French wines.



Rev. Feb. 20, 2014


In what has been called the most important wine event of the 20th century, wines from California's Napa Valley were evaluated alongside some of France's best in blind taste tests conducted in Paris on May 24, 1976. In what is now known as the Judgment of Paris, a wine from Napa Valley was judged the best (of 10 tasted) in both the red and white competitions. To put it mildly, the result stunned the wine world. For most people at the time, it was simply unthinkable that wines from California could be as good as those from France. For example, upon hearing the results, one of the Paris judges demanded to have her scorecard back for fear that it would become known that she had rated some of the California wines higher than the higher-priced and better-respected French wines. The event was dramatized in the 2008 film Bottle Shock.

The sole journalist attending the Paris event was George Taber of Time magazine. Thirty-six years later, Taber, with the help of two wine economists from Princeton University and various New Jersey wine associations, would stage a similar event. But this time, the best French wines would be compared with the best wines from New Jersey. That's right—New Jersey.

People have been making wines [in New Jersey] since colonial days, although after American Prohibition most of them were underwhelming sweet ones made with local blueberries and peaches. A small cadre of vintners, though, had been striving in recent years to produce better wines using the world's leading viniferas.

. . .

Keywords: scoring rules, standardized scores, hypothesis testing, wine, oenology

Suggested Citation

Pfeifer, Phillip E., The Judgment of Princeton. Darden Case No. UVA-QA-0813, Available at SSRN:

Phillip E. Pfeifer (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States
434-924-4803 (Phone)


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