The word is buzzing on the food & wine blogs this week…it would appear that Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence (y’know…those purple stickers you sometimes see proudly emblazoned on a restaurant window?) are nothing but a $250 sham.
Writer Robin Goldstein wanted to prove the theory that had long been suspected by those in the industry, and submitted an application for a fictitious restaurant for review – complete with a reserve wine list made up of nothing but wines that Wine Spectator themselves had granted their lowest of scores.
“As part of the research for an academic paper I’m currently working on about standards for wine awards, I submitted an application for a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. I named the restaurant “Osteria L’Intrepido” (a play on the name of a restaurant guide series that I founded, Fearless Critic). I submitted the fee ($250), a cover letter, a copy of the restaurant’s menu (a fun amalgamation of somewhat bumbling nouvelle-Italian recipes), and a wine list.”
Was the restaurant accepted? You betcha. Read the full story here.
Goldstein is not the first writer to call attention to Wine Spectator’s apparently dubious award methods. In 2003, Amanda Hesser explored the Wine Spectator restaurant awards in an article in the Times entitled “A Wine Award That Seems Easy to Come By.” She concluded that the 3,573 restaurants who were bestowed the award that year earned Wine Spectator $625,275.