Call Us Elites

Oh, man. Wine bloggers all over seem to be having all kinds of fun over a February 13 tweet from wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr. The tweet reads, “lots of top wine merchants are heavily discounting once very expensive Aussie shirazs..out of fashion among the anti-flavor wine elites, 10:05 AM Feb 13th via web.” Seriously, that’s the cut and paste we did from Parker’s Twitter page, twitter.com/robertmparkerjr, although you do have to scroll down and hit “more” to find it by now. Or you can just click on the date link above.

We laughed our backsides off when we heard about it. Robert M. Parker calling someone else (with a sneer no less) elitist? Say, Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle. You know, it costs $99 a year to subscribe to his website <erobertparker.com>? His main publication, The Wine Advocate, is $75 per year, and in his defense, you do get a lot of issues (something like 80). Nonetheless, it’s hardly what anybody would call accessible. And populist is about the last word that springs to mind when you think of Parker.

The big hoo-haw, of course, is that Parker is well-known for his preference for heavily fruit-forward wines. The anti-flavor part of his comments reflects the reality that subtler, more complex wines don’t tend to leap out of the glass the way he prefers. And a lot of folks love taking pot shots at him because he is incredibly influential.

What bothers us is his attitude that his taste is the only one that counts. If you don’t agree with him you are either anti-flavor or you don’t know anything about “good” wine. Feh. But on the other hand, we’re also bothered by people who like to shoot Parker down for his preference for strong, fruity wines. There’s far too much “my taste is better than your taste” elitism going on in the world of wine as it is.

It’s time to get over it. Seriously. There is a place in the world for fruit bombs – usually with barbecue or something spicy, such as Indian or Thai food. Or just to drink alone. In fact, that’s one of the reason we call such wines cocktail wines. They don’t generally go well with food, except for sweet and/or spicy, but they are quite nice for sipping on their own. But there is also a place for the subtler, more complex, rich-tasting wines that do go with food. There’s even a place for white zinfandel.

So, go ahead and share what you think about the whole issue? Do you think Parker’s influence is waning? Is it even an issue? The comment box is below.

Please tell us what you think.