Call out a wine shop for quoting RMP points that aren't from

Today’s mailer from a local wine shop contained this blurb:

the second wine is Sierra Salinas “Mo” from Alicante, Spain. It is a blend of Monastrell, Granacha, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. “Mo” received a rating of 90 points from Robert Parker. Our price while supplies last is $14.95.

I am on a conversational basis with the new owners, and I wonder if I should point out to them that the 90 isn’t from Parker? (Ignoring that 90DRJ probably means he didn’t like the wine too much.) …or has the ship sailed on this kind of advertising?

Sailed, over the horizon, come back around after circumnavigating the globe and dropping off the horizon again… flirtysmile

So many people use “Parker” for any WA score that it’s silly. I don’t think most are actively trying to deceive but are recognizing the fact that Parker is a name that sells and WA might not be for the casual buyer who, by definition, isn’t keeping up on wine world stuff. “Wine Advocate”? Wine Spectator? Wine Enthusiast? I imagine the don’t differentiate much in the minds of the casual wine buyer. Parker stands out and has some name recognition. And using scores is a sales thing, so…

I think anyone who cares understands this and that is a small amount of people. It is Parker’s magazine still. Not a big deal. Heck, most people wouldn’t care if it was a John Smith 90 pointer and they were buying on points, they would still buy.

It’s not optimal, but I think that is a very minor sin compared to the ways that scores are used in misleading and incorrect ways in wine retailing, particularly since the publication is literally “Robert M. Parker Jr.'s The Wine Advocate.”

It’s definitely minor in my opinion. Frankly, the owners of the wine shop probably knows RP doesn’t review every wine in Wine Advocate, but I can guarantee you that their average customer doesn’t.

I’m guessing they took the easy way out and used the marketing muscle behind Parker’s name and the 90 pt score instead of using Wine Advocate.

I get much more upset when retailers use scores from previous vintages.

Unfortunately, it happens all the time. Nevertheless, it is false and misleading advertising. Just once I would like to see one of the larger CA retailers get slapped with a CA Bus & Prof. Code Sect. 17500 suit just to make the point that if you’re going to quote professional reviews, you need to be accurate in their use…


Yeh, I don’t see a problem here. Seeing a score like “90 pts RP” just means the Wine Advocate scored it 90 pts to me.

It is a fine line - I do a lot of press kits for wineries that I represent - and use The Wine Advocate press quite a bit.

I stopped using Parker’s name years ago and only use the “The Wine Advocate” tag line on press I use.

And as other people have pointed out - most of my customers could care less where the 90 points came from - just that it is 90 points from the Speculator, Wine Enthusiast etc -

I have always wanted to sneak in a Wilfred Wong score - just never had the nerve…

The biggest offense is when people use that 90 points on the next seven vintages of a wine…even when the current vintages are not getting 90 point scores -

Costco is pretty much shameless with their advertisement of scores. You’ll have the 2002 Brunello or CdP on the shelf, which got a score in the 70s, and the tag will read:

2000: Wine Enthusiast 92
2001: Wine Spectator 93
2003: Wine Advocate 90

Not explicitly false, but about as deliberately misleading as you can possibly be without being explicitly false.

I think its false and misleading. A RP-94 is VERY different than a Schildknecht 94. If stores used WA in front of the score then it is cool with me. Many still say Robert Parker no matter where the wine is from. This problem will be exacerbated when Galloni starts reviewing CA full force.

Parker should have hired someone with his same initials to be his successor, like our Roy Piper. Then it would be accurate to say “RP 93 points” on the shelf talker.

But how does it help to identify the score as “Wine Advocate: 94”? It doesn’t. You’d need to put something like " DS (Wine Advocate): 94" and then the person reading it would have to understand who DS is, know the scoring differences, etc etc etc. At the end of the day people who read shelftalkers are looking for some reassurance that the wine is good. I doubt like hell that they care about nuances between reviewers. So, while I agree with you that it would be best to note the reviewer too, I can’t get excited about this.

Yes you are correct on these points. I just think there is an extra cache there for a lot of people when talking about RP versus nearly any other reviewer in a wider scheme of wine buyers.

Its a small point but I do think WA is markedly different than RP. RP is a reviewer and WA is his magazine that includes other reviewers.

Obviously, some people make their buying decisions independently of reviews and shelftalkers. And of the people who care about reviews and shelftalkers, there is a subgroup who may not care that much whether it’s WS, WA, Tanzer, etc. Still, there are those people who DO care who the reviewer is, and if Parker himself didn’t write the review, it’s false and misleading to say he did when someone else from the WA did.

Of course, it’s even worse when you quote reviews from vintages other than the one being sold…


I’m not arguing the technicality of whether it’s false and misleading. I’m arguing that it’s of a minimal impact and further that, for those who do care about the reviews that much they should not rely on the shelftalker but should do a bit of research beforehand - it’s naive to expect shelftalkers to be just in time substitutes for wine newsletters.

I don’t agree re: minimal impact, especially for certain kinds of wines/certain kinds of buyers. Parker is (for better or worse) a reasonably well-known wine critic; Dr. Jay Miller is much more obscure. For those folks who pay attention to scores and reviews, a high score from Parker has much more impact than one from Dr. Miller.

I understand the point about doing research beforehand, but I think shelftalkers have the most impact on shoppers who make on-the-spot decisions to buy something when they’re in the store. Whether a buyer is being naive or not is an interesting discussion, but ultimately retailers are not allowed to induce people to buy products through false/misleading advertising…


For those of us who don’t buy wines on shelf talkers, and the way we might look at people who do, I guess this doesn’t matter. I believe this has some impact but in general is a subtle erosion of the effectiveness of scores which I think (hope) might wash away faster than any of us would guess.

There was a time in my life when I’d select a bottle off a shelf at random and I’d put a lot more weight into a WA score over WS and considerably more than e.g. Wilfred Wong, which is why this ad rubbed me the wrong way. I once had a heated debate with someone after saying 85WA was equivalent to 90WS (this was on the order of 20 years ago). I think the question of false & misleading might be a gray area, because the score was published by RP.

This particular local shop has just changed ownership. I was friends with the previous owner, and he never would have put something like that in his flyer. It puts me in a situation where I’m questioning the integrity (or more importantly, the tastes) of the new owners and wondering if this is a store I won’t be visiting much anymore.

This used to be the most popular pastime ever on the Squires board, even more popular than drinking wine: deputizing oneself an enforcer of the Wine Advocate’s brand management and naming names whenever a retailer (who must always be understood as a warring arch-enemy of the consumer: only the Wine Advocate, and noone else, is on the consumer’s side) commits such unforgiveable treachery as, for example, using an old WA score on a shelf-talker when a newer, lower one is available, or - horror of horrors - quoting a “Hedonist’s Gazette” review of a wine without disclosing that it is an “unofficial” rating. If retailers are presenting content from the Wine Advocate in a way that Parker considers misleading, he might have an interest in doing something about it because it’s his reputation on the line. I fail to see what interest anyone else has in doing anything about it. Parker’s a big boy and if he decides it’s not worth his while to protect his brand’s reputation, why bother doing his dirty work for him? In any event, I am sure that if he had any problem with his employees’ reviews being associated with him, he would not have hired them. Parker is not in the habit of giving big microphones to people who don’t see things his way.

If he was being way over the line unethical, fine, drop him. But if he stocks wines you like at decent prices and seems like an OK guy in the shop, um… REALLY? You’d not buy there because he uses “Parker” and not TWA? I don’t mean to jump down your throat but sometimes wine geeks tend to go holier than thou over minor stuff and it’s… well… ever speed? Jaywalk? Yeah…

Look the guy bought a shop in the middle of a crap economy. He might feel that using “Parker” helps a bit. He might believe in the wine. He might not be sensitive to the subtle difference. Spending this much energy over something as incredibly minor as this and considering not shopping there because it is, um, a slight overreaction.

I don’t think anyone in this thread is trying to defend Parker’s business. Its only being stated that it is misleading to use his name on a review done by someone else.