A drinks magazine was itself headline news after being accused of not rigging the results of its tastings.
Critics lined up to criticise the US publication Wine Naif for ‘stupidity’, ‘naivety’ and ‘playing fast and loose with the facts – by not changing them at all.’
Polly Bag, a regular member of the publication’s tasting panel said she had raised concerns over the behaviour by senior editorial staff for years.
‘The drinks would be tried blind, the scores and notes would be recorded and then we’d all go home,’ she said in a stinging post on social media.
‘Not once did anyone from the magazine take the bags off and say ‘that can’t get a score of 89, let’s bump it up to 95’.
‘It’s an absolute disgrace.’
Tip of the iceberg
Ms Bag’s criticisms were backed up by drinks producers.
Rose-Anne Segla from Chateau Grand-Menteur said her confidence in magazines’ blind tastings had been ‘shaken to the core.’
‘If one publication has been caught, then who’s to say that others are not acting in this despicable way?’ she told Fake Booze.
‘When we submit our drinks for these panel tastings there has to be absolute trust – that the scores will be manipulated so that producers with big names or sizable advertising budgets come out on top.’
Not misleading the public
Head of research at What? magazine, Anna Lyst, told fake Booze that the industry was right to be concerned.
‘The public are pretty stupid,’ she said. ‘So introducing the concept that more expensive, famous products might be less good than cheaper ones they’ve never heard of could make them think that the industry has no idea what it’s doing.
‘Which of course is true – but we wouldn’t want them knowing that.’
Rigged with rigour
When contacted by Fake Booze, Wine Naif apologised for its behaviour and promised to introduce a more rigorous approach to score-rigging from now on.
The magazine is looking at plus-two points for half a dozen bottles of samples sent to the editorial team in time for the weekend; plus three points for a day out at a sporting event, and an extra five points for anyone who pays for a one page advertisement.
‘It’s good that they’ve seen the error of their ways and are moving to correct their mistake,’ said Sauron Kent, the head of the World Booze Organisation.
‘A meritocracy-based system where products simply stand or fall on the basis of their innate quality would be completely against everything that the drinks industry stands for.’
Click here to discover how the 100-point ceiling was smashed for the first time