The first time I saw Robert Parker speak, at a tasting at the Culinary Institute of America, he made some strong statements of opinion as fact. Grenache is best when you do this. Cabernet is best when you do that.
In a large auditorium full of winery people, only Tim Mondavi challenged him. Tim disagreed with Parker on some point about California terroir; forgive me, I don't remember what the point was. What I do remember thinking was, in this room full of people dependent on high ratings for wine sales, you have to have the stature (and bank account) of Tim Mondavi to publicly disagree with Robert Parker.
Or, you can pay $1500 to have dinner with him, and have the chance to ask whatever you like. What region/varietal does he think is the next big thing? Does he ever drink chilled red wine on a hot day? When was the last time he had a Diet Pepsi?
Parker will be hosting a dinner at Press restaurant in St. Helena on Nov. 5. There will be 10 tables of 6, with an extra seat for Parker at each table; he'll get up and move around. It's officially a "BYOB," so you can bring a 3-liter box of Big House White and see how many points it gets.
Red meat will be provided, literally (USDA prime), by Bryan Flannery, who CIA Associate Managing Director Reuben Katz calls "the Parker of America's food purveyors."
And it's tax deductible, because the proceeds benefit the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and The Wine Advocate scholarships at the CIA's wine studies program.
Click here for more info.
While I'm on the subject of pricey fun from the CIA, the folks at Eisch, a family-owned artisanal glassmaker in Germany, have created a special Vintners Hall of Fame decanter. It's $245, of which $100 is tax-deductible. You have to order by Sept. 20 to get it in time for the holidays. I've been to the Eisch plant and I can tell you why: it's surprising how much work they still do by hand.
Click here for more info on that one.