The Exposition Universelle of 1855, held in Paris, attracted millions of visitors, who passed through grand halls where the latest works of industry and culture were on display. In the 19th century, France was recognized as the world’s finest producer of wine — so there was no question that wines would be offered for sampling. The question was how thewines would be exhibited.
Bordeaux’s wines (commonly referred to as clarets) were already known around the world, particularly in England, whose wealthier classes had been importing them in mass quantities for centuries. So, it was no surprise that the country’s new Emperor, Napoleon III, ordered a classification drawn up of Bordeaux’s best wines. The wines were ranked by reputation and price, with an emphasis on the latter. The result was The Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855.