Arrogance, Fraud & What’s To Come
Yeah, the Wine Spectator got used. Toward what purpose I’m not sure. But they did get used by granting an wine list award to a fictitious restaurant. The upshot is that the Awards will be more closely monitored. I’m not real up in arms over the "scandal".
But that’s just me. As Steve Heimoff points out, "The reaction has been fast, furious and worldwide, with the weight of opinion running heavily against Wine Spectator."
Not a surprise. Everyone appears to like to see the influential among us get a comeuppance. It seems that the degree of comeuppance that the powerful sometimes experience is exactly equal in weight and measure to how much more important we each feel we are for having observed the comeuppance. Human nature.
ARROGANCE IS PART OF THE GAME–EMBRACE IT
But, Steve struggles with an explanation for why the Wine Spectator is being pounced on so hard and why there appears to be so much ill feeling against the magazine. But he does have an idea:
"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."
Someone needs to say it: Any publication that takes on the task of critiquing and judging an activity that does not come off as somewhat arrogant probably isn’t doing a very good job. If you are a critic, if you are judging others works, if you are reviewing other’s products and you don’t possess a certain amount of natural arrogance that is greater than the average person, they you have no business being in that line of work. What would a wine review publication that didn’t possess arrogance sound like?
"This Cabernet was pretty good, somewhat enjoyable, and similar in nature to hundreds of other cabernets that are pretty good and somewhat enjoyable."
Yea! Gimme more of that, would ya. Compelling!!!
THE REAL PROBLEM IS WHAT THE FRAUD WILL INSPIRE
The problem the Wine Spectator has within the wine industry, however, goes well beyond the proper arrogance it possess, but which many don’t like. There has, as long as I’ve been in this business, been a strong feeling among winemaker and marketers, that you can get better scores in the Wine Spectator if you advertise. This view always seems to be held by those that get 84-87 points. It’s also utterly ridiculous. I ran and crunched the numbers. It just ain’t so, but it does give further explanation as to why there appears to be, again as Steve Heimoff observes, "glee" among those who are witness to the magazine’s faux pas.
That said, if you really want to appreciate the impact of this episode and the way it has traveled outside the wine world and into the mainstream media, imagine what kind of actions it will breed. I will not be surprised to see this particular example of fraud inspire others to do something similar, but with a twist. If I were a wine reviewer or a wine magazine, I’d be on the look out for two wines labeled differently that are in fact the very same wine and looking for the reviewer to give two divergent scores. I’d be on the look out for the same thing if I ran a wine competition.