A prestigious award - NOT!

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Hat tip to Jason Kottke for finding this wonderful story:
What does it take to get a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence?
My name is Robin Goldstein, and I�m the author of a new book called The Wine Trials (book here; website here). Lately, I�ve become curious about how Wine Spectator magazine determines its Awards of Excellence for the world�s best wine restaurants.

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.

Osteria L�Intrepido won the Award of Excellence, as published in print in the August 2008 issue of Wine Spectator. (Not surprisingly, the Osteria�s listing has since been removed from Wine Spectator�s website.) I presented this result at the meeting of the American Association of Wine Economists in Portland, Oregon, on Friday, August 15.

It�s troubling, of course, that a restaurant that doesn�t exist could win an Award of Excellence. But it�s also troubling that the award doesn�t seem to be particularly tied to the quality of the supposed restaurant�s �reserve wine list,� even by Wine Spectator�s own standards. Although the main wine list that I submitted was a perfectly decent selection from around Italy meeting the magazine�s numerical criteria, Osteria L�Intrepido�s �reserve wine list� was largely chosen from among some of the lowest-scoring Italian wines in Wine Spectator over the past few decades. The reserve list appears in its entirety below (with scores and some excerpts from the Wine Spectator reviews of those wines added here):
The wine list that follows has some of these descriptions from the Wine Spectator magazine: Unacceptable. Sweet and cloying. Smells like bug spray� Smells barnyardy and tastes decayed. Just too much paint thinner and nail varnish character� Earthy, swampy, gamy, harsh and tannic... A culinary version of the Sokal Affair?

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on August 20, 2008 1:53 PM.

Talk about a full life - meet John R. Dunki-Jacobs was the previous entry in this blog.

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