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.