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Feb 4, 2007 01:17 PM

Has anyone read The Emperor of Wine: The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr., and the Reign of American Taste ?

Ordered it on a whim. Has anyone read it?

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  1. Yes, I read it last year. It's interesting and in a way a bit scary, in that it made me aware of how just one person can influence an entire industry.

    1. No. I first became aware of his huge influence when I read an excellent article years ago in the Atlantic Monthly by William Langewiesche.

      Here's a reprint.

      Please let us know if you like the book.

      6 Replies
      1. re: grocerytrekker

        Was going to mention that article in the AM. Great read. Besides his biases and the power he wields (even the French took notice), the thing I remember the most was a reference about being a glutton and his Dad and Mom were soda drinkers.

        1. re: grocerytrekker

          Thank you so much for the link. I really enjoyed the article, it was very informative. It was really timely as well because I am getting ready to purchase a bottle of wine to contribute for a wine tasting party on Saturday. I promise to report back after reading the book.

          1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

            You are welcome!
            Here's a new Slate article which might be worth reading.

            "Who's To Blame for Expensive Wine? The trouble with Robert Parker's point system.
            By Mike Steinberger"


            (Also check out this little item about bizarre wine language at the bottom of that article.


            "Jabberwiney - A professor of viticulture puts a stopper on wine hooey.
            By Jon Cohen"

            1. re: grocerytrekker

              The slate article is full of misinformation and they apparently presented the IWC information out of context. According to the bulletin board discussions at Parker's website, da Capo is not being produced in 2004 because this vintage is not good enough (note: the da Capo is produced only in excellent vintages), and not because of Parker's hype.

              As for the rest of the Slate article, blaming Parker's points for the escalation of wine prices in general is, IMHO, absurd.

              1. re: syoung

                Errors aside, I don't think they're blaming Parker but they certainly pointed out the irony of his 100 pt system "contributing" to the market frenzy and the realities that it brings.

                What I got was that the points made collecting easier for the average rich status seeker and investor. I also got that the some "traditional" vintners didn't dig this because it inflated values, reality. Reminds me of baseball stats (which consume many fans) and the way Rolling Stone use to rate guides/stats have value but as a complete appreciation they lack art, soul and touch.

                1. re: ML8000

                  The situation is complex and (therefore) poorly handled in some pop writing. Impact of Parker's ratings (with data and interviews) was examined last decade by independent wine writer John Winthrop Haeger (who later wrote the history of Pinot Noir in North America): "Wine magnum force," Los Angeles Magazine, November 1998. I have the article, which also was online (not currently, for some reason). Sample: "Tales of score-blinded consumers are everywhere in the wine business these days ... Observes [Steven Bialek, owner Los Angeles Wine Company], 'There are a lot of sheep out there who live and die by the numbers.' "

                  Even before he himself went online on the private Prodigy service, wine consumers discussed Parker's ratings publicly on the Internet and raised concerns seen in the Slate article. The limitations of a single number for a wine rating were already well known from past experiments. Experienced wine enthusiasts and makers didn't (and don't) all take them seriously -- unless concerned with market-price impact.

                  But Parker is fundamentally a wine critic like others before and since. Like many other experts, he explicitly recommends that people learn wine for themselves and never rely just on a numerical rating. (Doing so, I'll add, can delay that learning, as people focus on the number and not their own taste.) If consumers ignore this advice, who is responsible?

        2. The documentary Mondovino focuses quite a bit on Parker.

          1. There are reviews on and elsewhere.

            1. I am just finishing it now and really enjoyed it. Echo the comment on how scary his influence has been.