Two of the biggest names in wine writing, Jancis Robinson and Robert Parker, are to come together in a Mixed Martial Arts cage fight to decide once and for all who is the most influential.
All for charity
The event is being staged by Wine Expectorator magazine, which says that a match-up is long overdue.
‘These are the two biggest beasts in the wine writing jungle,’ said the magazine’s publisher, Spitz Buquet. ‘And even though there’s no actual evidence that they dislike each other, watching their followers going at each other on Twitter gives us more than enough grounds to push for a fight.’
Mr Buquet said that all proceeds raised by the bout would go to a deserving charity dedicated to keeping malnourished drinks magazines alive.
News of the impending slam-down has been met with surprise across the industry.
‘It seems astonishing that two such respected figures could resort to such a puerile stunt to settle their differences,’ said German producer Gunther Daschopz.
‘Though it’s still significantly more mature than what usually passes for debate on wine Twitter.’
Parker has not been seen in public for some time, and there are rumours that he has spent the intervening years working out ready for just such a challenge.
‘Bear in mind that he spent decades drinking Californian Cabernets at 16% abv, so he’s already well used to pushing his body to the limit of what humans can endure,’ said Ilova Fruit-Bomb of the Parker Appreciation Society.
‘A couple of flights of Zin and he should be fully battle hardened.’
Big scores v balance
Seasoned MMA experts believe that Robinson’s adherence to an old-school 20-point scale could count against her – ‘particularly since she never scores over 18.5’.
But supporters of the British MW were quick to trash-talk their rival.
‘Parker’s all attack and no finish,’ said one acolyte. ‘And his balance has always been questionable. We are confident that he’ll run out of superlatives after the first couple of rounds.’
Although the two combatants are of a similar vintage, conventional wisdom has it that European journalists age better than their New World counterparts, which could give Robinson the edge in a close contest.
Bookmakers have admitted that the contest is impossible to call. Not least because neither party understands what MMA stands for.
‘Jancis thought it meant Merlot, Meunier and Albarino, and was confident she’d pick all of those blind,’ said Spitz Buquet.
‘While Parker thought it stood for Massive Medoc Adulation which is very much a strong suit of his, too.’
The fight is being screened live on Sky Sports which described it as ‘a good way to attract older people to cage fighting and younger people to the exciting world of wine criticism’.
‘It’s an adrenaline-fuelled rush of aggression, trash-talking and showy take-downs,’ said Sky executive Logan Roy. ‘And MMA is pretty over-the-top too.’
Wine Expectorator is planning to show highlights on its new Wine Sports channel, which launched last year. Programmes such as Extreme Spitting and When Battonage Goes Wrong attracted literally tens of viewers, almost doubling the magazine’s monthly reach.
However, Roy admitted to Fake Booze that an intended follow-up fight featuring James Suckling was proving hard to arrange.
‘He’s on board,’ said Roy. ‘The only problem is narrowing down the number of people who’d like to get in the ring with him.’
Click here to read about plans to make Critics versus Influencers into a Hollywood mega-franchise.