Sunday, August 24, 2008

Wine Spectator Gives ‘Award of Excellence’ to Fake Restaurant

Yes, Wine Spectator magazine, which urges readers to “Learn More, Drink Better,” unwittingly gave an “Award of Excellence” to a non-existent restaurant in Milan. Wine writer Robin Goldstein is behind the hoax. Goldstein entered Osteria L’Intrepido and its fake menu in the magazine’s restaurant awards competition, paying the $250 entry fee, “[a]s part of the research for an academic paper I’m currently working on about standards for wine awards.”

Needless to say, the magazine’s editor was none too happy to learn the publication had been duped, writing:

This act of malicious duplicity reminds us that no one is completely immune to fraud. It is sad that an unscrupulous person can attack a publication that has earned its reputation for integrity over the past 32 years. Wine Spectator will clearly have to be more vigilant in the future.

No, the magazine’s editors didn’t try to visit the restaurant. But the editor wrote that phone calls were made that reached an apparently bogus answering machine message, a Google search turned up an address for the restaurant on a map, and the restaurant’s merits were even debated by (phony) Chowhound users.

It would seem that the magazine’s editors are grousing all the way to the bank. As The New York Times points out, “More than 4,000 awards were granted this year, so Wine Spectator made more than $1 million in fees.”

A note about the restaurant’s award has been removed from Wine Spectatator’s website, Goldstein writes, adding that a mention of the award appears in the magazine’s August print edition.

Photo by conskeptical via Flickr, (Creative Commons).

Posted by Jim Benning