Wine Spectator magazine was caught giving out its “Award of Excellence” to a non-existent Italian restaurant, which included on its featured wine list a vintage which the magazine itself once likened to “paint thinner and nail varnish”.
Writer and wine critic Robin Goldstein created this fake restaurant (complete with realistic website and all) as a test to see if the magazine would simply pocket the $250 entrance fee and give out the Award, or if they would actually do some serious investigation of the restaurant before handing out their stamp of approval. He presented his results at the recent meeting of the American Association of Wine Economists. Here’s more information on his methods.
So was the magazine acting fraudulently or in ignorance? And is it ethical for individuals or groups to use these sorts of deceptive methods to test the integrity of organizations which purport to offer a value to consumers by rating other businesses and products?
Decide for yourself after reading the article.