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Parker ‘backlash’: survey

Wine drinkers in the United States are experiencing a ‘backlash’ against the influence of Robert Parker, according to a new report.

The survey of 403 high-end wine drinkers by website Wine Opinions found 48% of respondents cited Parker’s recommendations as having ‘no influence’ on their decisions regarding whether to purchase wine costing US$20 or more.

61% rated friends and relatives as having the biggest influence on their purchasing decisions.

‘Our speculation of a possible backlash is based on comparison of the Parker ratings versus other media sources for wine recommendations,’ Christian Miller, research director at Wine Opinions told decanter.com.

‘Roughly double the number of people went out of their way to indicate that Parker has no influence at all on their ‘twenty dollar plus’ buying decisions. It’s hard to think of a reason for this finding other than an intentional disregard,’ said Miller, who adds that subsequent surveys will return to this topic.

According to Miller, the margin of error for the study ranges from 3-7%, depending on the particular question.

‘In my opinion, to be heavily influenced by wine critics or gurus requires the consumer to be both involved enough in wine to actually read or pay attention to them but not be experienced and confident enough in their own taste. Thus one could theorize that the power of celebrity wine critics or individual media is related to the ratio of new ‘wine aficionados’ to both experienced wine aficionados and non-aficionados who nevertheless purchase high end wine,’ Miller added.

John Gillespie, owner of Wine Opinions said he believes Parker to be a polarizing figure, adding ‘the publication of Elin McCoy’s biography of Parker, and the release of “Mondovino” (a highly influential anti-globalisation polemical documentary, in which Parker is criticised for his influence on style) have only made him more so.’

In March, economist Michel Visser concluded that a Parker score could add up to 15% to the price of a bottle of Bordeaux, a phenomenon he called ‘the Parker effect’.


Written by Emmet Cole

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