There will be no more wine gurus

So says Robert Parker in an interview given at Wine Future Hong Kong 2011 and reported in Harpers:

He doubted there would be any single person that would be seen to have as much influence on the wine world in the future due to the internet. There could be individuals who are seen as the expert for a particular country, but the “perfect storm” that heralded his rise to global influence, namely no internet or international wine critics, would not be seen again.

With this statement he seems to err a bit on the side of presumption, but in reality, analyzing it objectively I find that I fully agree with him.

Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator are the only two magazines that still have a real influence on global sales; beyond these, the other excellent publications have a strong territorial focus. The crisis and the domineering rise of the web have caused magazines like the Gambero Rosso to lose clout, which until ten years ago could determine the fortune of one producer over another with the awarding of “bicchieri” (glasses).

I believe that the web will become increasingly important, especially making it so that anyone, even those with less expertise, can form an opinion about a given product. Let me offer an example from outside the world of wine: before, in order to assess the qualities of a hotel, one would buy a guide; now the first thing we do is go to booking to read comments made by those who have stayed there and to see the hotel’s final score. If we apply this standard, wine will simplify or flatten out a little, moving increasingly closer to the palate of those who are less expert. Maybe this is the right way, wine is for everyone and should be appreciated by everyone, but where will the much-heralded terroir wind up? Will consumer taste win over territory? Or will it be a mix of the two? In my opinion there will be a sharp break between consumer wines that can be approached by everyone and limited edition wines that due to price and taste are not accessible to the masses. The common denominator will be and must be sustainability.

I believe that there will be no more global wine experts, but instead numerous excellent and skilled passionate specialists focused on particular wine-producing zones throughout the world. To those who would say that wines should not be judged with points, I disagree. Classifications are passionately competitive, exciting even if sometimes unjust; the concept of “politically correct”, the idea that we are all wonderful and amazing, has never been one that I liked.

 

I am convinced that the internet will provide producers with the opportunity to explain their work, to make their wines better understood, how they are made, where they come from and why they are being produced. The wine producer will be able to communicate directly to the world.

Wine is like music; everyone is capable of listening to it, but not everyone is can appreciate all of the genres and not everyone has attained a sufficient level of musical culture, but one thing is certain: anyone can decide whether a song is simply pleasing or not.