The Executive Editor of Wine Spectator, claims in his forum post, that they did do research on the restaurant. “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.” Also, they called the number listed and got a voice mail left by a real person (however never spoke to a real person live). He further goes on to explain the entire wine list was actually a pretty good list, that many of the wines on the “base” list actually scored pretty high, and that they judged the wine list as a whole. He also points out that the Award of Excellence is their lowest tier of restaurant recognition, and even though they are a victim of fraud at the hands of Mr. Goldstien, it doesn’t take away anything from other legitimate winners of the Award.
I personally don’t buy the argument that Wine Spectator is just the victim of a malicious blogger looking to sell a few more copies of his book. They are trying to be an authoritative voice on wine, and they fact checked by just using an user-run internet site? We’re supposed to believe that they didn’t have a single contact in a major Italian city that could have verified the restaurant was real? I’m still waiting for the next part of this story, the one where Wine Spectator sues Mr. Goldstien for libel.