Critic's Hoax Makes Spectator Turn Red

Wine magazine honors 'excellence' of imaginary restaurant
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2008 2:25 PM CDT
Sometimes, awards of excellence just aren't what they seem.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
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(Newser) Wine Spectator bestowed one of its awards of excellence on the Milan restaurant Osteria L'Intrepido. Problem being, the restaurant doesn't exist. A mischievous wine critic made it up, along with its wine list—which featured wines panned by the magazine—then forked over the $250 application fee, the Los Angeles Times reports. "I am interested in what's behind all the ratings and reviews we read," said Robin Goldstein. "The level of scrutiny is not sufficient."

One entry on the fake restaurant’s reserve list is a 1993 Amarone, which Spectator once decribed as "paint thinner and nail varnish.” The magazine criticized the hoax as a publicity stunt and said it made "significant efforts" to verify the restaurant's existence. Goldstein suspects the hoax worked because he paid the $250 fee. Out of 4,500 restaurants to apply for the award this year, only 319 were denied. That’s revenue of more than $1 million.