Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Phony Excellence

[Wine Hoax] I've always been a tad suspicious of the all-too-pervasive Wine Spectator restaurant awards for wine lists since it seems like every other restaurant has one. Well, so was Robin Goldstein, author of a book called The Wine Trials. To test whether Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence was legit, Goldstein created a phony Italian restaurant—Osteria L'Intrepido—along with a phony wine list stuffed with "reserve" wines which included some of the lowest-rated in Wine Spectator history. He also created a phony Website and phone reservation line, all of which took about three hours. Next, he submitted his Wine Spectator Award of Excellence application, a copy of food and wine menus, and, most important, the $250 application fee. Seems that the latter is what Wine Spectator is most concerned with since they never investigated Goldstein’s restaurant to determine if it was even real. The nonexistent Osteria L'Intrepido won a prestigious Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator. Read about Goldstein’s shenanigans here. (Ted Scheffler)


  1. Hey Ted, how about an opinion of Market Street Broiler for lunch. Last week 2 of us had lunch, no alcohol, I had the halibut,4 inch piece, 2 small boiled potatoes and a green salad consisting of a few leaves of lettuce and 2 cherry tomatoes for $20. My partner had a similar plate of fish. The bill was $40. $40 fucking dollars for lunch!!

    Let see a post about this.

  2. If you want to learn how to ruin a piece of fish, eat at Market Street.

    I've had day old toast with more moisture in it than Market Street's grilled halibut.

    Anyway, serves you right for eating there. If you didn't want to spend $20 for lunch, why'd you order? Dummy.

  3. Not quite sure what Market Street has to do with the phony Wine Spectator award...

  4. The post is about wine. The headline says phony excellence. That spells market Street

  5. Anybody that puts any stock in mags like Wine Spectator is a pretentious git, anyway.

  6. This is pretty old news that's seeing a lot of play without really giving both sides. Anyone who really thought WS somehow goes out and personally checks out thousands of restaurants World-wide to see if the wine list matches what's sent to them probably believes the "America's Best" seal, or whatever it's called can't be bought. Oh, yea, that's the entire idea.

    These guys set up a phoney web site, a phoney phone number that was answered if called. Phoney threads on ChowHound with people giving good reviews to the place. So, when the functionary called the place he got an answer they had applied. When he checked the website it was there. When he checked the net for info, perhpas the best known and respected site had reviews that had been planted well in advance (they are gone now.) Without visiting what else would you have done? Most of the wine list was good wines, a few ringers were thrown in. Only the top reviewers in the World would have picked up on most of them. So, I'm supposed to be surprized that the award was given?

    All you have to do is go to the Spectator site and look how to get the award. It says it's basically purchasing a sign that drives business for only $250.

    Let's look at all the restaurants around Utah, and the Country that fill a list with Silver Oak, Jordan, Caymus, Cakebread, Far Niente and the rest of the standard "restaurant" wines, get the award and think they are something special and charge 3x for those "prize" wines. There's a hell of a lot more of them than restaurants that scam a listing. The "award" only gets a few people in the restaurant -- the first time.

    FWIW: Saw you driving up to the Sundance wine festival. Nice subtle touch being a restaurant reviewer with Critic-1 as the license plate on a PT Cruiser. No restaurant's going to see that coming!

  7. Ooooh, you naughty little sleuth you, Brownbag! I suppose I shouldn't expect the mean-spirited to get the subtle self-deprecation of a "CRITIC1" license plate in a state with approximately 1.5 working restaurant critics... As for restaurateurs, when was the last time one of them recorded your license plate before you sat down to eat? It's never happened to me. True, the phony Wine Spectator award isn't exactly cutting edge news, but I thought there might be some folks who hadn't heard about the story, for better or worse. Apparently it was newsworthy enough for you to comment.

  8. Fair enough. We're even. The WS scam seems to be one of those stories put out to sell a book hoping the media will pick it up as a real story. It really was a troll all along.
    We may only have 1 1/2 restaurant critics, but we have even fewer wine commentators and I hate to see one of the few wine stories to be a troll only told from the side of the guy hoping to make money off of every person who reads it. You even gave the link to his book.
    I dislike the WS lifestyle mag, but have to give it props for bringing a lot of people into looking deeper into wine.
    I'll also not post any responses as the all knowing anonymous.

  9. Thanks Brownbag. Anonymity is overrated anyway. Peace.


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