Not a fan of Robert Parker? It's time to celebrate. Founded by Parker in 1978, The Wine Advocate is measurably less influential than sommeliers, wine shop assistants, and the Wine Spectator, when it comes to taking wine advice, according to a new survey.
Wine Opinions CEO John Gillespie released the findings of a survey of 1,151 high-frequency American wine drinkers at the 22nd Wine Industry Financial Symposium in Napa on Tuesday. They suggest that the most influential source of recommendations is a "wine knowledgeable friend," with a rating of 6.0 on a scale of 10. Nearly a full point lower are recommendations from "wine shop staff" (5.3) and "a sommelier in a restaurant" (5.2).
Of the wine media. Wine Spectator had the highest influence rating at 4.7, followed by Wine Enthusiast at 4.4. At 4.1, "Robert Parker's Wine Advocate" had the same rating as an email recommendation from a wine retailer.
After his presentation, Gillespie cautioned that the survey may not fully capture market influence.
"I don't know if the Enthusiast is as influential on the market as Parker," he said. "People who are Parker fanatics are true acolytes. They're slaves. But the Enthusiast has a huge database of anyone who's ever bought anything from them: wine openers, anything. They've done a good job of leveraging that."
Eric Asimov's recommendations in the New York Times earned a 3.3 rating, below "recommendation from the wine columnist in your local newspaper" (4.0), but above ratings on CellarTracker (3.2).
Wine sales professionals might be pleased to see their opinions are more highly valued than all wine media, but Gillespie said the power of friends' recommendations, either in person or on Facebook, is overwhelming.
"If you work at Binny's in Chicago and you have worked years to get certifications, and two people walk into your store and one leans into the other's ear and says, 'Buy that one,' you're finished," Gillespie said. "You can't do your job. That must be frustrating."