Fake Wine List Spells Trouble for Wine Spectator

In a meeting last Friday with the American Association of Wine Economists, writer Robin Goldstein revealed that during his recent research regarding standards with wine awards, he submitted a full application to Wine Spectator magazine for their Award of Excellence, listing a fictitious Italian restaurant, “Osteria L’Intrepido’, complete with sham menu and wine list. Surprisingly, as noted in its August 2008 issue, Wine Spectator awarded Osteria the Award of Excellence! Perhaps their research department was away on summer vacation?

More surprisingly to Mr. Goldstein, the entire “reserve wine list” submitted with the application included many wines previously reviewed, and horrendously rated, by Wine Spectator , some noted as “decayed…disjointed…smells like bug spray.”

It’s troubling, of course, that a restaurant that doesn’t exist could win an Award of Excellence. But it’s also troubling that the award doesn’t seem to be particularly tied to the quality of the supposed restaurant’s “reserve wine list,” even by Wine Spectator’s own standards.

You can take a look at Robin’s carefully calculated wine list, along with more details of his very interesting experiment, here at his blog.

~Jennifer Heigl

3 replies on “Fake Wine List Spells Trouble for Wine Spectator”
  1. I love the experiments along these lines. I’ve seen similar ones where top wine experts were unable to tell the difference between white and red wine when the experiment was set up right. Thanks for posting this. I’d like it to become more public knowledge.

  2. I cook a lot, and paid for a good chunk of my education by cooking in my late teens and early 20s. My wife and I now regularly eat food a good deal better than we get at most “highly rated” restaurants. Once in a while you hit a gem of a dish, or less often a restaurant that is real find, but much of it seems to me to be “highly overrated”. With the cooking background it is easy to see past all the ambiance that is actually a huge part of what you’re paying for, along with the “highly-ratedness”.

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