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Wine Spectator Award "Sting"


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No credibility for the response - it still shows that WS didn't actually confirm the restaurant's existence or list and clearly didn't check the reserve list (a small percentage, but clearly an important component for an award of excellence).

And it's making people who didn't already know aware that WS doesn't visit the restaurants it gives awards to - there's no consideration of stemware, serving temperatures, staff knowledge, etc.

They're still unscrupulous idiots, and all the response shows is that someone went to a fair amount of effort to prove it.

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My point, if you believe the response, is that the "sting" might just be a clever fraud:

How could this wine list earn an award?

On his blog, Goldstein posted a small selection of the wines on this list, along with their poor ratings from Wine Spectator. This was his effort to prove that the list – even if real – did not deserve an award.

However, this selection was not representative of the quality of the complete list that he submitted to our program. Goldstein posted reviews for 15 wines. But the submitted list contained a total of 256 wines. Only 15 wines scored below 80 points.

Fifty-three wines earned ratings of 90 points or higher (outstanding on Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale) and a total of 102 earned ratings of 80 points (good) or better. (139 wines were not rated.) Overall, the wines came from many of Italy’s top producers, in a clear, accurate presentation.

Here is our description of an Award of Excellence:

Our basic award, for lists that offer a well-chosen selection of quality producers, along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style.

The list from L’Intrepido clearly falls within these parameters.

I was actually surprised to learn that WS went to as much trouble as they did:

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.

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People should read the response before passing judgment: http://forums.winespectator.com/eve/forums...161/m/835102245

The response seemed to me like an attempt at damage control. The thread where it was posted has already gotten to 7 pages long, and the topic on eRobertParker.com bulletin board has picked up hundreds of posts about this, too.

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(Nearly one-third of new entries each year do not win awards.)

WOW! One third of restaurants don't get an award! That's pretty picky! [/sarcasm] Statements like these, made in all seriousness by the Executive Editor of the magazine are exactly why these awards are useless. 2/3 of the restaurants that bother to pay the entry fee ($250 I think?) get some kind of award.

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Hmmm, makes you wonder how many restaurants actually have all of the wines on the list that they submitted. It is pretty sad that they don't even bother to do much checking for their 'basic' award. I am not really a WS reader, but do they indicate the level of this award anywhere?

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Hmmm, makes you wonder how many restaurants actually have all of the wines on the list that they submitted. It is pretty sad that they don't even bother to do much checking for their 'basic' award. I am not really a WS reader, but do they indicate the level of this award anywhere?

To their credit, they do state in the magazine the methodology for the awards. Of course, if you just happen to see the award on the wall of the restaurant or in an ad for the restaurant you wouldn't know that the "Award of Excellence" means any schmo with $250 can get it.

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Of course, if you just happen to see the award on the wall of the restaurant or in an ad for the restaurant you wouldn't know that the "Award of Excellence" means any schmo with $250 can get it.

Here is a complete list of the schmos in DC who have the award:

Best of Award of Excellence (2d Tier):

Bistro Bis

Charlie Palmer Steak

CityZen

Le Paradou

Marcel's

Proof

The Capital Grille

Vidalia

Award of Excellence (3d Tier):

1789 Restaurant

701 Pennsylvania Ave.

Acadiana

Ardeo Restaurant

BLT Steak

BlackSalt

Bobby Van's Steakhouse

Brasserie Les Halles

Cafe Atlantico

Ceiba

Clydes

DC Coast

Equinox

Fogo de Chao

Hook Restaurant

Jaleo

Legal Sea Foods

Mie N Yu

Morton's, The Steakhouse

Oya Restaurant & Lounge

Peacock Grand Cafe

Poste Moderne Brasserie

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse

Seasons

Smith & Wollensky

Taberna Del Alabardero

TenPenh

The Bombay Club

The Melting Pot

The Oceanaire Seafood Room

The Oval Room at Lafayette Square

The Palm

The Prime Rib

The Willard Room.

Zola

Are these the best restaurants for wine in DC? Some yes, some no. But you aren't going to be drinking Sutter Home at any of them either. In fact, though I haven't been to all of these place, I would bet that all of them have wine lists -- and wines in stock -- that are significantly better than average (though, average is pretty bad).

And, in case you were wondering, I have no idea why I'm defending WS, which I don't read. Perhaps it's because I have dedicated my life to defending the noble corporation against the greedy American consumer. :lol:

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To their credit, they do state in the magazine the methodology for the awards. Of course, if you just happen to see the award on the wall of the restaurant or in an ad for the restaurant you wouldn't know that the "Award of Excellence" means any schmo with $250 can get it.
Apparently it means that 70% of the schmoes with $250...
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Are these the best restaurants for wine in DC? Some yes, some no. But you aren't going to be drinking Sutter Home at any of them either. In fact, though I haven't been to all of these place, I would bet that all of them have wine lists -- and wines in stock -- that are significantly better than average (though, average is pretty bad).

And, in case you were wondering, I have no idea why I'm defending WS, which I don't read. Perhaps it's because I have dedicated my life to defending the noble corporation against the greedy American consumer. :lol:

I have no qualm with the second and third tier awards. For the most part they are indicative of a very well put together wine list. The Award of Excellence (the bottom tier) is the main problem. "Excellence" does not entail just not serving Sutter Home, it entails actual thought and work and not just being "better than average" but being a cut above your competition.

My problem with the WS awards is two-fold:

1) The list is by no means inclusive, i.e. there are quite a few places in DC that have much better wine lists than those that won the WS awards. However, those places didn't feel the need to apply for an award and thus didn't end up on the list. I don't really have a fix for this problem, but it does limit the usefulness of the awards for me.

2) The lowest tier is called "Excellent" but the standard is anything but. The standard stated by WS for the Excellent award is quite low.

Take a look at the restaurants that won the second-level award (as DC has no restaurants that won the top level award, with the Inn at Little Washington being the closest to DC I believe). Are these the best wine in the city? No doubt that they are very good; I've eaten at about half of them and enjoyed the wine service all around. However, they are a number of places in the city that aren't listed that are as good or better.

#1 is my main problem with the awards, but #2 dilutes the prestige of the set of awards and thus restaurants don't apply as it's just not all that prestigious (or don't want to pay for an award), so in the end #2 is a large part of what drives #1.

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I have no qualm with the second and third tier awards. For the most part they are indicative of a very well put together wine list. The Award of Excellence (the bottom tier) is the main problem. "Excellence" does not entail just not serving Sutter Home, it entails actual thought and work and not just being "better than average" but being a cut above your competition.

My problem with the WS awards is two-fold:

1) The list is by no means inclusive, i.e. there are quite a few places in DC that have much better wine lists than those that won the WS awards. However, those places didn't feel the need to apply for an award and thus didn't end up on the list. I don't really have a fix for this problem, but it does limit the usefulness of the awards for me.

2) The lowest tier is called "Excellent" but the standard is anything but. The standard stated by WS for the Excellent award is quite low.

Take a look at the restaurants that won the second-level award (as DC has no restaurants that won the top level award, with the Inn at Little Washington being the closest to DC I believe). Are these the best wine in the city? No doubt that they are very good; I've eaten at about half of them and enjoyed the wine service all around. However, they are a number of places in the city that aren't listed that are as good or better.

#1 is my main problem with the awards, but #2 dilutes the prestige of the set of awards and thus restaurants don't apply as it's just not all that prestigious (or don't want to pay for an award), so in the end #2 is a large part of what drives #1.

Some places are just not interested in paying for a dubious award from a glossy, advertising laden life-style magazine. :lol:

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Its NOT an award. Its advertising. It always was advertising. The guy I bought my restaurant from entered his list which "won" an award of excellence. The next year after we bought it from him, I resubmitted our list and it "won" again, I got to thinking. How exactly is this an award?? Good for the Wine Spectator for thinking up the ad scam, genius really. But why does anyone need a hack travel mag to validate everything they do?

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It's basically another Zagat guide. Names, addresses of people who might or might not have a wine program.

Of course, if they made it a requirement for an award that a restaurant post an up-to-date list on their website, it'd actually be a somewhat useful address list. At least if business travel took you to an unfamiliar backwater.

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It's basically another Zagat guide. Names, addresses of people who might or might not have a wine program.

Of course, if they made it a requirement for an award that a restaurant post an up-to-date list on their website, it'd actually be a somewhat useful address list. At least if business travel took you to an unfamiliar backwater.

zagat has some credibility though. as does the WS Grand Award lists. but to put forth atleast an 700K inventory volume gets pretty hefty for the small restauranteur. it is fun, but costly. goes to show though, that somewhere like Del Posto with an all Italian list, can get a grand award, and not have any diversity of other regions to showcase is pretty impressive on their part. actually it is awesome, and ballsy. it does suck that WS does not follow up with the restaurants, and the lists, and people do not take enough pride in the lists maintenance more times than one. maybe someone will pass-on, and it will be taken over by a real dynamo that gives two sh*** :lol:

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