NOT implying that ski magazines would do anything like this!Wine Magazine humbled by hoax (phony review)
Pay your money and get a great review!
NY Post article
WINE MAG HUMBLED BY HOAX
August 23, 2008 --
THE faces over at the Wine Spectator are redder than a bottle of fine Bordeaux this week, after the highly respected magazine gave a prestigious award to a restaurant that never existed.
Wine connoisseur and watchdog Robin Goldstein, curious as to how the mag selected the world's best wine restaurants, submitted an application for an "Award of Excellence" for a phony eatery he called "Osteria L'Intrepido" with a Milan address.
He set up a fake Web site, created a menu of "somewhat bumbling nouvelle-Italian recipes," and invented a high-priced wine list that included "some of the lowest-scoring Italian wines in Wine Spectator over the past few decades" - among them, a 1982 Brunello di Montalcino that "smells barnyardy and tastes decayed." Still, the imaginary eatery was honored in this month's issue.
It was a shock to top local restaurateurs.
"We make an assumption that it's an excellent magazine," Gramercy Tavern beverage director Juliette Pope told Page Six. "Hopefully, it was just a fluke."
Goldstein, author of "The Wine Trials," wrote on his blog: "While Osteria L'Intrepido may be the first to win an Award of Excellence for an imaginary restaurant, it's unlikely that it was the first submission that didn't accurately reflect the contents of a restaurant's wine cellar."
Wine Spectator Executive Editor Thomas Matthews told us the magazine was the victim of a clever hoaxer, fuming, "This was a mugging. Why would he do this?" Asked whether heads would roll, he said, "Do you punish the victim of a mugging?" Matthews called Goldstein "a malicious person" who pulled "an act of malicious duplicity," and he insisted the magazine never claimed to have visited all of the nearly 4,500 restaurants that paid a $250 fee to apply for the award.
But, he said, "Wine Spectator will clearly have to be more vigilant in the future."
Here's another one. I love the description of one of the select wines.
Chicago Trib article:
Hoax leaves bitter taste for wine magazine
Author makes up restaurant in Italy; it wins award for excellence despite spotty wine list
By Jerry Hirsch
August 24, 2008
Milan, Italy's Osteria L'Intrepido restaurant won Wine Spectator magazine's award of excellence this year despite a wine list that features a 1993 Amarone Classico Gioe S. Sofia, which the magazine once likened to "paint thinner and nail varnish."
Even worse: Osteria L'Intrepido doesn't exist.
To the magazine's chagrin, the restaurant is a Web-based fiction devised by wine critic and author Robin Goldstein, who said he wanted to expose the lack of any foundation for many food and wine awards.
To pull off the hoax, Goldstein created a bogus Web site for the restaurant and submitted an application for the award that included a copy of the restaurant's menu (which he described as "a fun amalgamation of somewhat bumbling nouvelle-Italian recipes") and a wine list well-stocked with dogs like the 1993 Amarone.
The application also included what Goldstein suggests was the key qualification: a $250 entry fee.
"I am interested in what's behind all the ratings and reviews we read. … The level of scrutiny is not sufficient," said Goldstein, who revealed the prank while presenting a paper at an American Association of Wine Economists meeting in Portland, Ore.
In response, Wine Spectator Executive Editor Thomas Matthews said in a posting on the New York-based magazine's Web site that it did "make significant efforts to verify the facts."
"We called the restaurant multiple times; each time we reached an answering machine and a message from a person purporting to be from the restaurant claiming that it was closed at the moment," he said. "Googling the restaurant turned up an actual address and located it on a map of Milan. The restaurant sent us a link to a Web site that listed its menu."
Wine Spectator even found discussion about the restaurant from purported diners on the foodie Web site Chowhound.
In a telephone interview, Matthews denounced Goldstein's actions as a "publicity-seeking scam." He also denied that the award of excellence was designed to generate revenue for the magazine.
"This is a program that recognizes the efforts restaurants put into their wine lists," he said.
Matthews said the magazine did not attempt to visit the phony Milan restaurant; it never visits about 200 of the establishments that get its award each year. But he said the awards had contributed to the growing popularity of wine since they were started by the magazine in 1981.
Getting the award, however, isn't exactly like winning an Olympic medal. This year, nearly 4,500 restaurants spent $250 each to apply or reapply for the Wine Spectator award, and all but 319 won the award of excellence or some greater kudos, Matthews said.
That translates to more than $1 million in annual revenue.
Tom Pirko, a beverage industry consultant, said the hoax would dent the magazine's credibility.
"This gets down to what the Wine Spectator is all about. It's not exactly Wine for Dummies; it's more Wine for the Gullible," Pirko said. "This gives the appearance of paying for advertising disguised as a contest."
When Goldstein crafted the bogus wine list for Osteria L'Intrepido (Italian for "the fearless restaurant"), he also included a 1985 Barbaresco Asij Ceretto, which Wine Spectator described as "earthy, swampy, gamy, harsh and tannic."
"While Osteria L'Intrepido may be the first to win an award of excellence for an imaginary restaurant," Goldstein said, "it's unlikely that it was the first submission that didn't accurately reflect the restaurant."
Los Angeles Times