Winebits 184: Wine writing, cava, wine prices

? Certifying wine writers: Slate's Mike Steinberger weighs in on this winter's cyber-controversy about credentialing wine writers at the end of a longish piece about the value of earning the Master of Wine title. Says Steinberger, who does a better job than most of writing about the bits of the wine business that have nothing to do with tasting wine: "However, wine appreciation is an almost wholly subjective endeavor, and while some palates are more discerning than others, even the most experienced and knowledgeable critic is merely offering an informed opinion." Given Steinberger's stature, I guess I'm safe for a while longer from the certification police.

? Spanish bubbly sales rising: Which is not a surprise to anyone who has tasted the wines. Sales of Champagne in the U.S. are down more than 20 percent from 2007, according to Impact Databank. Know what has made up the difference? Cava, of course. Sales for the three biggest Spanish sparklers are up 12 percent since 2007, pretty impressive given the recession. In fact, says Impact, more cava is now sold in the U.S. than Champagne.

? Too expensive for Parker? An odd report from the French news agency AFP, in which it quotes Robert Parker, the most important person in the wine business, as saying Bordeaux wine prices are too high. Which would be like the Wine Curmudgeon saying $10 wine prices are too low and should be higher. Parker is the main reason no one, save the world's wealthiest people, can afford top-end Bordeauxs. In fact, if that's not bizarre enough, Parker says the top producers should cut their prices 10 to 20 percent, and should not rely on the Chinese market to boost sales. It was enough to make me reach for a bottle of cava.