is a lifestyle magazine
Magazines, periodicals, glossies or serials are publications, generally published on a regular schedule, containing a variety of articles. They are generally financed by advertising, by a purchase price, by pre-paid magazine subscriptions, or all three...
that focuses on wine
Wine is an alcoholic beverage, made of fermented fruit juice, usually from grapes. The natural chemical balance of grapes lets them ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes, or other nutrients. Grape wine is produced by fermenting crushed grapes using various types of yeast. Yeast...
and wine culture. It publishes 15 issues per year with content that includes news, articles, profiles, and general entertainment pieces. Each issue also includes from 400 to more than 1,000 wine reviews, which consist of wine ratings and tasting notes.
Among the critics in the magazine's tasting panel are James Molesworth, Kim Marcus, Bruce Sanderson, Harvey Steiman, James Laube
James Laube is an American wine critic, writing for Wine Spectator since 1980, a full-time staff writer since 1983, with expertise on California wine...
and from 1981 to 2010, James Suckling
James Suckling is an American wine and cigar critic and former Senior Editor and European Bureau Chief of Wine Spectator as well as European Editor of Cigar Aficionado...
. Like most other major wine publications, the magazine rates wine on a 50-100 scale. Thomas Matthews is the executive editor.
Background and history
Founded as a San Diego-based tabloid newspaper by Bob Morrisey in 1976, Wine Spectator
was purchased three years later by current publisher and editor Marvin R. Shanken. That year, its panel of experts blind tasted and reviewed over 12,400 wines.
In 1981 the magazine introduced its Restaurant Awards program, which reviews restaurant wine lists on three levels: the Award of Excellence (basic), Best of Award of Excellence (second-tier), and the Grand Award (highest). As of 2009 over 3,500 restaurants held one of these awards.
The magazine organized and sponsored the Wine Spectator
Wine Tasting of 1986 on the tenth anniversary of the "Judgment of Paris".
In 2008 the magazine was ranked by the Luxury Institute as the #1 business and consumer publication among wealthy readers.
operates the Wine Experience, a yearly event that includes wine tastings and seminars. In 2009 over 1,000 people attended in New York City where 335 different wines were poured.
The magazine also runs the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation, which has raised more than $10.9 million to support wine and food education and scholarship programs.
The magazine's Restaurant Awards program has since come under some criticism. At the August 2008 conference of the American Association of Wine Economists in Portland, Oregon
Portland is a city located in the Pacific Northwest, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 Census, it had a population of 583,776, making it the 29th most populous city in the United States...
, a hoax
A hoax is a deliberately fabricated falsehood made to masquerade as truth. It is distinguishable from errors in observation or judgment, or rumors, urban legends, pseudosciences or April Fools' Day events that are passed along in good faith by believers or as jokes.-Definition:The British...
Investigative journalism is a form of journalism in which reporters deeply investigate a single topic of interest, often involving crime, political corruption, or corporate wrongdoing. An investigative journalist may spend months or years researching and preparing a report. Investigative journalism...
submission of the fictitious restaurant Osteria L’Intrepido was revealed by the author and Fearless Critic
Fearless Critic is a series of restaurant guides to US cities. The series was founded in 2003 and currently has eight restaurant guides—most notably Austin, Texas, Houston, Texas, Dallas, Texas, San Antonio, Texas, Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon, Washington, D.C., and New Haven,...
founder Robin Goldstein
Robin Goldstein is an American author and food and wine critic. He is known for his offbeat academic papers questioning conventional wisdom in the food and wine industries, including a controversial exposé of Wine Spectator magazine...
: he had won an Award of Excellence for a restaurant that didn't exist and whose "reserve wine list" was full of the lowest-rated Italian wines in history. He stated the exposé to be part of research for an academic paper, whose aim was to discover what it takes for a restaurant's wine list to receive an award from the magazine. With nearly 4,500 restaurant applications, the magazine earns over $1 million each year from submission fees. Editor Thomas Matthews published an official response on the magazine's forum site.