Steven Spurrier, Who Upended Wine World With a Tasting, Dies at 79

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Steven Spurrier, Who Upended Wine World With a Tasting, Dies at 79

Mr. Spurrier used the tasting for various careers in the wine field, with both triumphs and failures.

With the Caves de la Madeleine store and the L’Académie du Vin school as a base, he built a successful mini-empire in and around Paris. By 1980 he had opened two wine bars, Bistrot à Vin and The Blue Fox, and a restaurant, Moulin du Village.

Other programs didn’t work. A plan for a wholesale wine cellar was an expensive mistake, and while efforts to open L’Académie du Vins’ remote outposts initially succeeded, they did not end well.

There were tax problems in France. As Mr. Spurrier put it in Steven Spurrier: Wine, An Attitude to Life, a treatise published in 2018, “The Spurrier House of Cards should collapse in 1988.”

When Mr Spurrier returned to London with his wife Bella and their two children in 1990, he tried to revive his career. He was a tireless traveler, lecturing on wine and advising airlines on what to serve passengers. He wrote a number of wine books and in 1993 began a long association with Decanter, a UK consumer magazine that wrote columns and conducted tastings.

Steven Spurrier was born on October 5, 1941 to John and Pamela Spurrier in Cambridge, England. His father, a tank officer during World War II, subsequently joined his family’s sand and gravel business in Derbyshire, which boomed with post-war construction.

Steven attended rugby, boarding school, and the London School of Economics. He was an indifferent student more interested in art, jazz, and wine.