Fake restaurant wins wine award AUG 20 2008
Beware gatekeepers on autopilot. As part of the research process for an academic paper on wine awards, Robin Goldstein submitted an application for Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence using a fake restaurant and a subpar wine list.
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. Osteria L'Intrepido won the Award of Excellence, as published in print in the August 2008 issue of Wine Spectator.
Most of the wines on the "reserve" list had previously been panned in the magazine. Ouch. (via eater)
Update: Wine Spectator's executive editor has responded to what he calls an "elaborate hoax" on the magazine's message board. The response is somewhat defensive, defiantly unapologetic, and, in the end, a pretty effective defense of the magazine's position. In particular, they did take steps to verify the restaurant's existence, including several phone calls to the provided phone number, reading (fictitious) online reviews, and visiting the restaurant's web site. (via diner's journal)