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August 24, 2008

Wine Spectator Sells Its Credibility

Wine Spectator magazine is apparently in the business of handing out "Awards of Excellence" to restaurants with good wine lists—including fake ones. Writer Robin Goldstein proved this by making up a restaurant in Milan, complete with a website, phony menu, and reviews on Chowhound. He then wrote up a wine list, and submitted it to Wine Spectator for consideration, along with the $250 application fee. He won the award, despite the fact that the restaurant, Osteria l’Intrepido, does not exist, and, perhaps more damning, the wine list was not very good.

Wine Spectator
Or was it? Wine Spectator's response to the hoax noted that while Goldstein submitted 256 wines, he only posted reviews of the 15 lowest-scoring ones on his website. The magazine has a point; if your fridge is stocked with various delicious Ommegang ales, the presence of a few stray PBRs doesn't make the rest taste skunky.

Still, we can't help but wonder what kind of award is given to more than 90% of all applicants and requires such an extravagant fee. (Wine Spectator made more than one million dollars last year off of the entry fees.) Perhaps the magazine should get out of the award-selling business and focus on what it's best at. (Spectating?)

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