Awards Fake-Out, or Fraud? The Wine Spectator Responds

A wine critic intent on embarassing an industry magazine by entering a fake restaurant in the Wine Spectator’s Awards of Excellence set up a fake answering machine and inserted fake comments discussing the restaurant on, the magazine claims in a detailed reply on its web site forums.

In a post attributed to Wine Spectator executive editor Thomas Matthews, the Wine Spectator claims prankster Robin Goldstein went to considerable effort to dupe the magazine into believing the entry for Osteria L’Intrepido (aka Fearless Critic) represented a genuine establishment:

We make significant efforts to verify the facts. In the case of Osteria L’Intrepido:

a. 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.

b. Googling the restaurant turned up an actual address and located it on a map of Milan

c. The restaurant sent us a link to a Web site that listed its menu

d. On the Web site Chowhound, diners (now apparently fictitious) discussed their experiences at the non-existent restaurant in entries dated January 2008, to August 2008.

And the final takeaway:

It has now been demonstrated that an elaborate hoax can deceive Wine Spectator.

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.

I’m actually surprised and impressed to learn the Wine Spectator attempted to fact-check the awards submission, if true. In any case, I’ll be interested to see how this plays out. As of early Thursday morning, there was no update from Goldstein on the Osteria L’Intrepida blog countering any of the Wine Spectator’s rebuttals.

I would emphasize that Google was also fooled, so this may not be the innocent deception first depicted — as of early Thursday, Google was listing the restaurant as a genuine location in Milan, and even offered directions about how to get there (too bad Google Street Views is unavailable in this locale).

~ by whisky1 on August 21, 2008.

One Response to “Awards Fake-Out, or Fraud? The Wine Spectator Responds”

  1. […] See the Wine Spectator’s response here. […]

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