Who the Hell is Robert Parker and why is he important?

July 03 2008 - 1:40 PM

In the wine world you can’t go inside a shop or a wine web site without seeing a Robert Parker score or praise from Robert Parker.  His taste buds have given credit to the rise of high-quality Rhone valley red wines (and their prices), as well as his authority in rating Bordeaux vintages.  If you go into a shop and have two similarly priced and similarly styled wines and can’t decide what to pick and you see a Robert Parker or Wine Spectator rating, what do you buy?   C’mon and fess up!  I admit, I’ve done it. 

So, if it doesn’t suit his taste buds, what’s to say it’s not good
wine?   His knowledge is enormous, but he does it for a living, so it
better be, and I’m sure his palate is refined, but to me it’s
marketing.   I get it to some degree–people want "objective"
knowledge, and he has filled the gap, but $99 for an online membership
for his advice is steep in my opinion.   Still the after shock of his
influence has been attributed to wine price inflation, for starters.
Not too long ago, top quality Bordeaux was available for around $100 a
bottle,  but of course today’s prices are out of reach and many point
the finger at "Bob".  So what is exactly up with this guy?  I haven’t
quite figured it out.