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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Who will be the new wine expert?

Most any wine enthusiast knows Robert Parker has been the most influential person on wines for a long time. I use past tense because ol' Bob is pretty much retiring from telling you what to drink. Yes, he's gotten a lot of flack--when you're #1 at anything that's what happens--others will criticize. In the last year the U.S. because the largest wine-consuming nation on the planet in a large part because of him.

So now there's a vacuum. Who will fill it? Maybe no one. No single person that is. The Internet with wine forums and social media has changed many things from Egypt to wine. Everyone can offer opinions and be the expert and why not? Everyone has a palate that's just as good as anyone else's because you like what you like. 

Okay, there still is room for other so-called experts. Sommeliers may be the next wine rock stars. "Soms" (I call 'em Soms because who the hell can pronounce Sommeliers)?  Anyway, Soms are trained wine professionals who often work in restaurants to help customers with their wine choices. This seems like the perfect background as food and wine together is usually what consumers care about. If you're just looking to party then shop the under $10 section at the market and don't worry about gold medals and points.
OK, maybe if they want our
respect they'll have to stop
wearing that funny cup
around their neck.
Image from

Like any profession there are good ones and bad ones. Just because you have a good memory and learn about wine doesn't mean you know that much are tasting wine (and food). And some Soms are better at upselling customers than worrying about giving them what they want.

So might a sommelier or maybe just Soms in general become the people wine drinkers turn to for their expert opinions? It's a bit difficult if they are scattered around different restaurants. Perhaps a few who make their living off wine judging and writing might fill the Parker void.

There are dozens of other wine experts: wine writers for newspapers, blog authors, magazine critics, distributors or restaurant owners, but I would think only a very few of these will have the knowledge and the respect of some of the best sommeliers.