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Why is the reaction to the Spectator hoax so fierce?

35 comments

It was disingenuous for Tom Matthews to deny, as the Los Angeles Times reports he did in a phone interview, that the magazine’s award of excellence program was designed to generate revenue for the magazine. “This is a program that recognizes the efforts restaurants put into their wine lists,” the paper quoted Matthews as saying. But also this morning, Jon Bonné, the Wine Editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, weighed in with an estimate that, at a charge of $250 per application, “the 4,128 restaurants in the [Wine Spectator’s] list would have grossed more than $1 million total.” (The New York Times reported the same thing.) I can personally assure you that $1 million is a lot of cash for a wine magazine, even one of Wine Spectator’s deep pockets.

I Googled “Wine Spectator” and was still finding links to the scam on page 23 when I gave up trying to count. The reaction has been fast, furious and worldwide, with the weight of opinion running heavily against Wine Spectator. Which raises the question, Why? Yesterday, I rose to the magazine’s defense, arguing that anyone with enough time and ingenuity on their hands (and Robin Goldstein apparently had both) can scam anyone about anything. I still hold to that position. But the gleeful anger so many people feel makes me wonder what’s going on to fuel the fire. Have people reacted so strongly because they detest Wine Spectator specifically? Is it because they dislike the notion of wine and food awards in general? Perhaps just a natural reaction against authority? The collective impulse of the Gotcha!sphere? A group grope into Schadenfreude?

I have to admit I’m stumped. The one thing I can come up with, at least from my California point of view, is that there’s a body of opinion in this State that Wine Spectator is arrogant. This isn’t to say that the magazine’s personalities in California aren’t nice people. It’s just a perception that Wine Spectator has been a little too elitist, too hilfalutin for its own good. Maybe that explains it.

  1. We’re thinking along the same lines here, Steve – I was just leaving a post on yesterday’s blog, and the word arrogance came to my mind too. It even shows up in how they responded to Goldstein’s hoax – no mea culpas, no promise to tighten up the rules, etc. That’s why so many people are secretly or not-so-secretly happy to see WS suffer in the media here.

  2. Steve, though I do have my own opinion regarding the WS, I would put that aside to ask you – and anyone who wishes to comment – whether they actually operate in the field of journalism, or in some other field…let’s call it the commerce of wine opinion. To me, journalism implies an objectivity and an unassailable (un-buyable) integrity. So if not journalism, for arguments sake, why shouldn’t they be entitled to make money on the quality of a wine list, most of which they had already evaluated? Yes, they got stung because the restaurant doesn’t exist. But their business practice is exposed. So would it be like a movie reviewer rating a film based on their perceived quality of its cast, never having seen the film, and accepting a stipend from the movie’s producer? I think so. Get my drift?

  3. Morton Leslie says:

    I like this post better than the one asking for slack.

    I may have to confess some resentment for the New York attitude. You know, (cigar in hand), “You are the rubes for thinking the award was anything but advertising.” But I think that if it got out that a large wine competition charged for entries and assigned awards without tasting the wines it would be just as big. It’s just proof that the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Gary Hart, comes to mind.

    I know I am way too cynical for my own good, but when I read the WS response about trying to contact the restaurant, I immediately suspect it was done a couple days ago, not as implied. I mean, who remembers out of 4000 entries the googling and the phone calls about a specific entry? Later, I had the humorous thought that maybe they did try to contact the restaurant before publication, only it was either they wanted to sell some advertising or they were considering the Osteria for a higher award.

    See? From where doth this cynicism come? Am I alone?

  4. I’d like to believe that the vicious backlash against the Spectator is because we’ve all known for years that the Awards of Excellence etc… are a bit of a sham. But, I think it’s nothing more than the human impulse to want to bring down the Top Dog. Arrogant, possibly, disingenuous, definitely. While I beleive that Goldstein’s attempt to out the wine awards as bogus was more intricate than just filling out the forms and sending in the cash, that doesn’t change the fact that nobody from the Wine Spectator has ever set foot in two thirds of these restaraunts.

  5. This has me stumped as well. Both in terms of the negative feeding frenzy against WS, and also in terms of the response (so far) from WS.

    What’s also troubling is the negativity in the WS forums in defense of WS. Not everyone in the forum is being negative, of course, but I (and other fellow wine bloggers) have not exactly been greeted there with open arms.

    Scratching my head…

  6. Sorry to respond collectively to the last several comments. Here goes:
    Jeff A.: Some aspects of my job are more journalism than others. When I do straight reporting, it’s journalism. When I review wines, it’s wine reviewing, which is not journalism. When I opine, it’s commentary or op-ed, not journalism.
    Morton: Your cynicism makes your voice refreshing and provocative. It would be interesting to know exactly when WS called Osteria.
    Jon: Well, Tom Matthews conceded that they don’t go to the restaurants, they just examine the wine lists. So this is not a legitimate criticism, in my opinion.
    1WineDude: It’s not surprising that most people who comment on the WS forum are rushing to its defense. Most probably they love WS and wish to protect it. Only natural they’d feel that way.

  7. Steve,

    I might be sticking my neck out there, but I think that many of us in the wine world have been pondering the impact of wine ratings by WS because they are so influential in the US wine trade. It has made WS somewhat of a target for all the folks that are unhappy about the influence of ratings on wine sales, wine prices and quite frankly wineries’ success. I see the current backlash as a strong sign that some people will use anything that would come their way to make the WS look bad because they do not like their influential opinion. I am not sure where all this will go but I cannot stop thinking that many folks out there would like the integrity of the WS put at stake beyond the restaurant award deal.

    I would not want to be the editor at WS right now…

  8. Steve, I respect that Tom Matthews conceded the fact that they only examine the wine lists, and that the Spectator has been fairly open about this fact. I still find this to be sketchy at best, as any average consumer at a restaurant that sees the plaque or sticker on the window will make an assumption, however wrongly, that the Spectator has made more than just a cursory glance at a wine list. I think there is a tacit implication here that goes beyond what we in the wine industry know. I respect the Wine Spectator and what they do, but I think If it’s that easy to con them, then who gets an award and how they get it should be changed.

  9. Nico, I agree with your analysis, in part. But not all successful publications elicit this degree of fierceness. I think there’s something more than just making WS look bad because of their influence. Parker is even more influential and to my knowledge no one dislikes him the way some people seem to dislike WS.

  10. Jon, so would you do away with restaurant wine list awards?

  11. VinoCarla says:

    I’m surprised that no one has posited the following as the main reason for the backlash: The WS Restuarant Wine Award hoax brightly exposes the lack of jounalistic and professional standards at the Wine Spectator overall which is most notable when it comes to wine ratings.

    Does anyone in the industry really believe that the Wine Spectator – one of the top two most influential wine rating publications in the US – really tastes their wines blind and gives them a fair shot?! Their ratings still drive so much wine commerce, it’s crazy. When we ask our sales people what they want that will most move our business forward, they say in unanimity “A WS Best Buy!” The lunacy of this is underscored by the fact that most of the wine we sell is under $15 retail.

    Marvin Shanken swears that WS is “fair and objective” yet all scientific evidence thus far clearly concludes that in genuinely blind tastings where people don’t know how much something costs or who produced it, people most often prefer the less expensive champagne and wine to the more expensive champagne and wine (see The Wine Trials and Predictably Irrational).

    I hereby challenge the WS tasting panel to do a blind tasting of 50 Cabernets at varying price points from $5 to $150 IN PUBLIC with a panel of qualified observers to keep them honest, publish their ratings and then have the panel match them to the producers and prices. I bet the results would follow a very different pattern from the typical ratings guide. Sadly, this will never happen though because a lot of $10 wines getting 89-93 point ratings will not sell much advertising to luxury purveyors or many magazines to the wealthy ones who aspire to impress.

  12. Steve,
    I would not, I think the Spectator gets closer to doing it correctly with the Grand Award winners. An award( award – 1. To grant as merited or due) should mean something. And I understand that a massive increase of effort/manpower would be required, and likely the Spectator would have to cull 2/3 or 3/4 of applicants, as opposed to the 1/3 they do now. I forsee the biggest problem for them, instead of dealing with a larger staff to make this happen, would be the potential loss of revenue. And revenue is what drives this whole thing in the end. And why shouldn’t it , we’re all in it for the money in some way or another, but the Spectator needs to find a better balance of revenue -vs- integrity. As always, just my opinion, whether or not its worth .02¢ is up to you.

    And while were at it, Id like to see more restaurants get recognition for actually have a wine that makes sense with the cuisine they serve, as opposed to stuffing the list full of trophy wines, but maybe I’m just crazy.

  13. With very few exceptions (the MacArthur fellowships come to mind), awards throughout industries of all types begin as a limited pool based on those who make the effort to submit their work for review. Most often, but not always, with a fee (Consumer Reports).
    The veracity of an award is then determined by the parameters, the judges, the past performance, and flavor of the week (the Turner prizes). Vetting, at the lowest or highest level (Thomas Eagleton), is difficult.
    Awards—medailles d’or—at various French competitions are regularly and roundly criticized and then the seal ends up on the bottle and in press releases. The entire cru bourgeois category in the Medoc has been thrown out by the courts because of the vetting. St. Emilion’s classement is in chaos because the losers cried foul. Even the simple vetting required for all French AOC wine is suspect (though it must be said that no such vetting even exists in the New World).
    That WS’s veracity is in question brings up rumors of past performance but does it equally condemn the entrants? Some restaurants may enter because they believe their lists to punch above their weight; some may enter because they want the certificate to award staff; some may enter because it drives business; some may enter because they are pressured to do so. Restaurant customers may use the award to influence a client. Key word here: business.
    So, to say that the restaurant awards are bad across the board is a good story but overstates the fact. Whatever the veracity, Thomas Matthews should not have responded. He is executive editor and controls the editorial content. This is an issue for the publishing side.

  14. Kathy, you raise some fascinating issues, but maybe the most interesting is that Tom Matthews should not have responded; publishing (or, more to the point, advertising) should have. So Marvin Shanken should have responded instead. That at least would have attempted to preserve the fabled “firewall” between editorial and commerce. I hadn’t thought of that, and I wonder if Tom Matthews was trotted out against his will.

  15. Steve,

    I think you hit the nail right on the head, this is an issue of arrogance. Wine Spectator has for so long preached from up on high and extolled the virtues of being objective, so it is only natural that when the time arrived and a kink in the objective armor was revealed that it enemies rushed to exploit it. Our nation feeds on these kind of negative stories, not only do we love to witness the rise of an underdog to great heights but we enjoy even more the story of the scandal that discredits the powerful. There is however opportunity in negative publicity, just witness Hugh Grant’s career after the transvestite prostitute incident, his career took off after his Tonight Show mia culpa. WS unfortunately came off as arrogant in it’s follow up statement to the scandal.

    However as with every thing else in life “this to shall pass” and perhaps WS will learn from this and emerge as a more humble and objective publication.

  16. Vintuba, I wonder if WS will be “more humble.” Some celebrities never recover from getting caught. Do you think Larry Craig will be having a comeback? Or John Edwards for that matter? At any rate, one’s personal reputation counts as much in this business as talent or power, and I think it’s here that WS needs to do some fence-mending in California.

  17. Steve,

    I could not agree more with the comment that “WS needs to do some fence-mending in California”. I believe that within the wine industry in general there is allot of ill will directed at them, and some of it is well founded.

    I really enjoy your blog and your style!

  18. Steve,

    You are certainly to be commended for taking this issue on in your blog. My take at this juncture is that all of the post-prank machinations represent an expres sion ofa deep distrust of mainstream media. ANd this distrust comes not just from the “blogosphere” but rather the entire wine trade that has for years had its chain pulled this way and that by Wine Spectator (and to a lesser extent other media). What Goldstein did was poke a hole in the teflon armor of the Spectator.

    THis hole is not going away. In fact, it is going to encourage ratctheted up scrutiny of not only the “awards” but also ratings in general. I think Jeff A and VionoCarla’s comments suggest a new midset, if you will… We are not going to just sit back and presume WS and RP and all the wine media to be beyond question.

    Eventually, we are going to arrive at the inevitable point of accepting that ratings and awards alike are just not practical in the field of wine.

  19. I think you’re indulging in some wishful thinking, Tish, but maybe your crystal ball is clearer than mine. I don’t believe that this one scandal, which has tarnished Wine Spectator, will result in the end of all ratings and awards.

  20. Steve,

    Why not think the WS is on the take and “ratings” (both restaurant and wine) can be had for a price? Ever wonder why some particular wine gets “Wine of the Year” when one finds full color, full page ads in every issue from its parant company? How about fairs…where wineries pay to enter and have to give wine that gets Gold Medals for the public tasting (where the public pays to go to)? Gold Medals makes alot of wine sell in tasting rooms! There are lots of paid “awards” in the wine industry…WS may be part of it but is certainly not the only culprit.

  21. Tish, IMHO you are on target about a scrutiny shift though JeffA and Vinocarla appear to be coming from different mindsets. (J, V: can we hear from you again?)
    However, I don’t see a shift in mindset as a result of the WS sting. It offers an opportunity to express a mindset.
    Long before blogs, before the Internet, actually since Gutenberg and maybe even the Sanskrit tablets, the general public and the aggrieved have cheered or complained about business, about news, and about stinging and being stung.
    As JeffA noted, transparency “based on objectivity and un-buyable integrity” is critical for journalists (that is not new). Business (which includes publishing) has its own transparency/best practices issues (not new, either).
    So, I agree with Steve: awards and ratings aren’t going away.
    To think that the wine business (producers, wholesalers, distributors, off and on premise and publishers including blogs) would benefit from or want ratings and awards to disappear is difficult for me to comprehend. Unless, or until, consumers 1. know more about every wine than the industry and no longer seek guidance, 2. no longer enjoy disagreeing with a rating or award, 3. stop buying wine.

  22. Steve, maybe I’m not as conspiratorially-minded as you, but I don’t think it’s all phony. When I worked at Wine Spectator I saw absolutely no evidence of “ratings for a price,” although I know those rumors have been out there for years. I think their critics, like ours at Wine Enthusiast, are men and women of great integrity. Certainly advertising is important at all magazines, but there is, and should be, a bright red line between editorial (including reviews) and advertising.

  23. In the beginning, I submitted to corporate wine reviewers. It went somehting like this… I received a huge score for one of my zins (by far not my best vintages), was asked to advertise but could not do to lack of budget and then coincidentally received low 80′s for later vintages both my club and I found to be great years…hmmmmm

    To advertise or not to advertise should be the major factor wineries should consider upon submission of their wines, not whether they’ll hit a “big one”.

    Remove the profit-center approach from reviewer’s worlds and only then might one get an actual honest review.

  24. Randy, I can say with absolute honesty that whether or not someone advertises in Wine Enthusiast is completely irrelevant to me. I don’t look at the ads and I don’t even really know who the regular advertisers are. My ratings and reviews are based solely on my reaction to the wine. I’ve given horrible reviews to major advertisers and great reviews to people who will never, ever advertise.

  25. Roger Voss says:

    When I request samples in Europe to review for the American market, I always advise that there is no charge for the review (charging for submission of a wine is a common European practice).
    The review process is an entirely editorial process. I’m a journalist, I would have it no other way.
    Advertising is not related to specific reviews but on the reputation of the publication and on its circulation. The integrity of editorial is essential to the reputation and commercial success of any magazine.

  26. Many of the comments in this blog echo things I have known about the Spectator and had mentioned and witnessed in your blog prior to this one. My biggest complaint of the Spectator was their failure to properly apologize for this expose of the rating they had for this fictitious restaurant. What it really exposes to the public is their inability to factually examine their ratings system so they can avoid scams such as this in the future. The Spectator will survive this story, however, many readers now should take all these ratings stories with a certain amount of restraint. Personally whether a restaurant in Denver for instance gets a high rating or not is not going to influence my decision if I am ever in Denver to visit that establishment. Local knowledge will always be more important. I will give you a perfect example. Friends of ours who live in Las Vegas when we there this past spring recommended an Italian Restaurant a couple of miles off the strip. It was a full service restaurant with an entrance and feel of an old speakeasy. We had a great meal and the unique ambiance made our dining experience one to remember and I am sure when we get back down to Vegas this fall we will make a point of going back and even taking our family who also live in the Vegas to the restaurant.
    I would be willing to bet the Spectator has never seen or even heard of this place. I did not name this place, however if someone is interested I would be happy to oblige.
    Another point. Some bloggers have taken a shot at the author of this story. I can’t accept that. I am sure he did not know the outcome when he came up with this idea unless of course, he had inside sources at the Spectator.
    Maybe in addition there are those who are jealous of Spectator’s success. I certainly don’t feel that way. mainly because they just rode the growth of the wine business train in the United States.
    Marv Shanken and the editorial staff definitely needs to practice more diligence in the future to avoid the mess they are in now.
    Ratings whether it’s restaurants, wines or cigars should only be a guide to ones decision, not the end all number given by a perfect stranger.

  27. Morton Leslie says:

    Vino Carla – Your challenge will never happen. What would make it an even better challenge would be to have them re-judge wines they had previously published scores.

    I don’t completely share your views that the tastings are rigged. While the WS technically tastes blind, my analysis of their reviews is that the samples are grouped so that likes are tasted against likes. The judges try to bring their best and most honest appraisal, but they know what the group is and bring certain predispositions which are reflected in the scores. When you know every wine in the tasting sells for more than $100 a bottle you cannot avoid preconceptions.

    While it is easy to argue that there are different standards and quality attributes in one class versus another and unfair to taste cheap Bordeaux against expensive Napa Valley, grouping also serves several editorial purposes.

    First, the judging seems more expert because it is plausible. Implausibly giving $200 Cab 80′s and $10 Cabs 90′s brings the judge’s competence into question. Confusing a Bordeaux with an Australian Cab reflects on the taster’s competence, and is avoided. Giving expensive wines consistently higher points validates the taster’s competence and consistency.

    Second, tasting wines out of category creates turmoil within the wine making community. Would you send them your $200 Cab if you thought it would routinely be tasted against and outscored by a $10 wine?

    Tasting wine “in category” assures consistent heros and goats. Ultimately the “story” is what really matters. Parker, who never tastes blind, has been very successful because of his creating the hero and the goat.

    For a half decade I found myself stuck in one of the middle groups and scores from 89 to 91 in the WS. I found a way to get put into the elite luxury group and immediately got a 96 and a 95. Where this creates resentment is when you happen to produce a delicious 1998 Cabernet and the whole vintage is damned and scored down. Or you are an Oregon Cabernet producer and you will never get tasted side by side with Colgin or Mouton. You, the producer, think it is rigged. In reality it is… sort of… but the taster is doing the best job he or she can under the circumstances.

  28. Morton, you’ve offered as succinct an analysis as any I’ve read. Yet far from it being a demolishing description of the way things are, I think it actually supports the system, which is after all a very old one, based on traditional European methods of grouping and ranking. All we have done, really, is to substitute “wine critics” in the place of government bureaucrats in determining these hierarchies and how they get reviewed and classified. Personally, I think double-blind tasting — where a $10 Chilean Cab would be tasted alongside La Mouline — is stupid, although I know it has its adherents. The only coherent way to taste, in my opinion, is “likes against likes.” By the way, I’d like to know what you did to get that 96. I could make an intelligent guess…but I don’t think you’ll reveal it anyhow.

  29. Wine Spectator is all about money. Why would anybody take their restaurant list seriously is beyong me.
    I am very happy somebody exposed them, serves them right.

    The sooner we bring CORPORATE responsibility back into our lives
    http://sergebirbrair.com/UBS.html
    the better, as the society, we will be.

  30. Thomas Matthews says:

    Steve,

    Thanks for your fairminded exploration of these turbulent topics. We have had a difficult week at Wine Spectator, and it would be impossible to respond specifically to all the charges that have been made against us. But let me make a few points.

    1. Our restaurant awards program is designed to encourage restaurants to improve their wine lists, and to point wine lovers to restaurants where they can find a good bottle of wine. It reviews wine lists, not restaurants (except at the Grand Award level). The program is voluntary and transparent, including the criteria for earning each level of recognition. So far, our critics never specify actual restaurants whose wine lists do not meet the criteria for awards. Even Goldstein’s phony restaurant had a very solid list. Yes, there were a few low-scoring wines on it, but we do not insist that restaurants only offer wines we like. We are not that authoritarian, or “arrogant”, no matter what our critics think. And yes, we will be more vigilant in the future to avoid being hoaxed again.

    2. Our wine reviews are based on blind tastings of wines grouped by grape type or appellation. Price and producer are never disclosed to the taster. Many accusations have been made that advertisers are favored with higher scores, but this was disproved several years ago by an exhaustive analysis by an independent outfit called Wine Angels.

    3. Every publication is in business and needs to earn revenues to survive. The New York Times reviews restaurants, movies, books and yes wine, and accepts advertising from those same restaurants, movies, books and even wines. Nearly every awards program charges an entry fee, from the James Beard Awards to the National Magazine Awards. Wine Spectator, like all publications, understands the need to maintain ethical separation between editorial and advertising, and we strive in all we do to maintain our integrity. We know our success is based on the trust of our readers, and the fact that 400,000 people subscribe to our magazine testifies to their belief that we are fair, ethical and informative.

    4. The people who work at Wine Spectator are wine lovers. I have been involved with wine since picking grapes in Bordeaux in the 1979 harvest, and joined the magazine in 1988. We have a code of ethics that works to ensure that we maintain the highest standards of integrity. We respect the people who work in the wine industry and try to earn their respect in return. When people criticize us, and charge us with arrogance or corruption, I would ask you to consider the evidence before making up your mind. I don’t think that happened in the reaction to this wine list scam. But we will keep working hard to educate and enlighten people about wine, and hope that fairminded wine lovers will join our community..

    Thomas Matthews
    Executive editor
    Wine Spectator

  31. Eric Cohen says:

    Steve,

    Great bit of writing by you, which I read after blogging about the story myself. Part of the schadenfreude you describe is surely due to the reasons cited in most of your reader’s posts. But the real reason, at least from my perspective, that the magazine deserves the scorn heaped upon it, has nothing to do with the fine publication it is. Rather the true hoax perpetrated on us is that the restaurant received its award for a clearly substandard list.

    I don’t recall many wines scoring in the 60′s in any publication and this admittedly fake list included a dozen. Can we deduce anything from this other than that the magazine did not scrutinize the list while still cashing the $250.00 check?

    Thomas Matthews is correct, they are not in business to go out of business. But surely this particular source of revenue for them, in hindsight, would have served their readers better had they only considered verifiable restaurants and then, those that had wine lists worthy of their awards.

    OT: I really came to your site to read the piece you did on Six Winemaker’s to watch, thrilled you included Ryan Waugh and our Six Degrees brand on your more prestigious list! :)

  32. One thing has puzzled me for years about the WS “blind tasting” process… why is the appellation part of the grouping? Why not taste riesling from the Finger Lakes against the Mosel against Alsace?

    Is it possible that they set it up that way so that wines from the “wrong” (aka emerging or lesser-known regions) don’t get scores higher than those from established regions?

    Steve, does WE do the same thing?

  33. Lenn, I would refer you to Morton Leslie’s post, above, in which he spoke to this issue. As for myself, I taste only California wine, so it would not be a question of tasting different countries. However, I might well taste (blind) different regions against each other, e.g. Paso Robles Cabernet with Napa Valley. Our other editors taste similarly in their regions.

  34. Not to be lost in this discussion is the distinction between wine editorial and magazine publishing. I have no doubt that indivudual reveiwers like you, Steve, and Roger Voss and Tom Matthews, et al, are earnest and honest. But you are all working within a system that has been manipulated beyond reasonably utility by the money side of the equation. As I have said before, I think the real fallout of the WS incident will be heightened scrutiny, which may not even yield another scandal, but instead it will shake some sense into the wine world. And the focus of this wake-up call will be on the tastings/ratings, not on WS’s resatuarant awards.

    No single critic OR magazine is capable of achieving the degree of objective consistency that can justify the rating systems they have developed. I think the idea Vino Carla and Morton Leslie touch on here is the beginning of something big. Let’s all start taking a close look at how the magazines taste and rate. Personally, I dont’ care how wines are grouped for blind tastings; more important is the inevitable fallibility of any system that yields immutable “points.”

    Steve, Tom, Roger: would you be willing, as Morton mentioned, to re-taste wines you had already scored in a blind public tasting? If so, what conclusion can we, the non-critics, draw when you can not replicate the scores? Only that the scores mean diddly.

    THis would be the start of a new era in wine criticism, in which win is treated as the subjective beast it is. And oce we arrive there, perhaps WS an WE will start to incorporate more real restaurant coverage into the magazines, without having to spend months assembling than hollow awards based on wine lists mailed in with checks.

  35. My perception about the uproar is that the publication sullied its own reputation with sloppy journalism. The concept for the awards is not bad in and of itself. The methodology for determining winners is. It appears to me that the project is too big for staff to handle, or that fact-checking controls weren’t employed. I have nothing against the publication or food/wine awards.

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