Should Robert Parker Have Listened to Disraeli?
Is the leading wine critic’s latest fusillade a storm in a wine glass or a taste of things to come?
“Never explain, never complain,” said the 19th-century British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli. His words hold true today. Publish an article or wine review and there are readers who won’t necessarily like what you write. The solution is to develop a thick skin, believe in what you write, and know that if everyone had the same opinion the world would be a boring place.
Over the past 30 years, the world’s most famous wine critic, Robert Parker, has largely adhered to Disraeli’s advice: publishing articles and reviews, writing books, and letting his work do the talking.
Inevitably, such success means Parker is an easy target for many to attack. There are certainly many Parker haters out there who like to Bob bash. To them, I would say, get out more. While you may not admire his success and you may not enjoy the wine style he is famous for liking, bear in mind that any decent wine critic reviews a wine based on quality parameters such as balance, length, intensity, complexity and ageability. If Parker had been marking wines based on the sweetness of fruit, level of alcohol and proportion of new oak, as some suggest, he would have faded into obscurity long ago.
Whatever your thoughts on Parker, he ignored Disraeli on January 18, publishing a diatribe that he predicted would be the source of “firestorms.” Clearly, he was sick of his critics, and instead of taking the “high road” – which he says is his usual inclination – seemed to be in the mood for a fight. I sincerely hope he’s ready for an outpouring of vitriole, as such columns are fuel to a wine forum’s fire. And from personal experience, those forum comments can be pretty blistering.
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