Thursday, August 21, 2008


I have always been somewhat suspect of Wine Spectator, primarily for the ratings but I have had suspicions on other subjects related to the magazine as well. Today, on two sites (Dr. Vino’s wine blog and Wine and Vines), I found the story on author Robin Goldstein’s recent discussion on the perception of real wine value at the conference of the American Association of Wine Economists in Portland, Oregon last week.

What he revealed was that he concocted an imaginary Italian restaurant, complete with faux menu and falsified wine lists (including a reserve list made up of some of the worst rating wines in Wine Spectator in the past 20 years), paid the $250 application fee, and completed the application process. His imaginary restaurant – called Osteria L’Intrepido – actually received a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in their most recent restaurant awards issue.

This isn’t the first time the proverbial wool has been pulled over Spectator’s eyes. In 2001 another author – Amanda Hesser – explored the concept of the Spectator awards in the Times. At the time the application fee was mere $175, and Hesser concluded that over 3700 restaurants netted Spectator over $625K in application fees. Projections with the $250 fee that Goldstein paid equal out to around $925K. Impressive little racket, eh? I would venture to say that it’s one more crack in their credibility veneer.

No comments: