Friday, August 22, 2008

Life in the Real World

I wonder if they actually taste the wine before rating it.

The news that Wine Spectator magazine was scammed into giving an Award of Excellence to a non-existent restaurant has been greeted with guffaws by schadenfreude fans and with fury by the magazine’s editor.

But longtime readers of the Dining section might have seen this coming. Five years ago Amanda Hesser wrote that the magazine granted the award, the lowest of three levels of recognition by the magazine, without actually inspecting the restaurants involved. Restaurants submitted a wine list, a menu and an explanation of their wine program. (Like the wine writer Robin Goodstein did with Osteria L’Intrepido, the fake restaurant in Milan.) “The basic award is not that hard to get,'’ the magazine’s executive editor, Thomas Matthews, told Amanda.

She wrote:

"Of the 3,360 awards granted this year, from a pool of 3,573 entrants, 2,808 received the basic award. Only the winners of the Grand Award, the magazine’s top award, of which there are 89 this year, are ever inspected; 3,271 restaurants simply sent in copies of their wine lists and menus, a cover sheet describing their wine programs and a check for $175 — and walked away winners."

The fee has gone up to $250. More than 4,000 awards were granted this year, so Wine Spectator made more than $1 million in fees.

Found in the NY Times, of course.

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