Updated 2009-04-10 10:11:16 ID=364:0

© 2009 The Romantic Table
©2009 The Romantic Table 2009-02-17 09:52:55:123
©2009 The Romantic Table

Larry McGourty writes about wine and food

Questionable Awards - A Cautionary Tale


The recent flap over the Wine Spectator's stumble with their magazine's award of excellence seems to have settled down. For those of you who missed the story, it appears that the Wine Spectator magazine's award of excellence was based more on a pursuit of excellent profit rather than excellent wine. In a way, I was not too surprised, maybe even a little impressed. Perhaps the Wine Spectator was onto something, just a bit too ham-handed about it

The recent flap over the Wine Spectator's stumble with their magazine's award of excellence seems to have settled down. For those of you who missed the story, it appears that the Wine Spectator magazine's award of excellence was based more on a pursuit of excellent profit rather than excellent wine.

In a way, I was not too surprised, maybe even a little impressed. Perhaps the Wine Spectator was onto something, just a bit too ham-handed about it. Given the hard times we are going through right now and our own pursuit of thinning profits, it got me to thinking. So, in a recent meeting I threw out the suggestion that maybe now is the time to start our own "Questionable Award of Excellence For Just About Anything," or the prestigious and somewhat mysterious sounding QAEJAA (pronounced kay-EE-jah) Award - Gold and Silver Seal.

Of course our recipe editor Susan (a realist by necessity - thank God!) threw in a wet "dish" towel immediately. She asked "How are we ever going to come up with objective standards and all the time and energy to do this?" "Simple," I said, "we will auction the awards off! The highest bidder gets the Gold and the next the Silver. Our motto will be --You can count on their quality, while we count their money."

By now I was getting some very strange looks from everyone. I felt I had to amplify my idea a bit more. "The process is inherently fair." I claimed. "With so many critics with so different ideas about what is good and bad who can really say what is the best anyway. We will let the people vote --indirectly that is." I continued, "I think it is a fair assumption that although everyone is 'free' to sell wine in the marketplace (well in the case of wine most marketplaces that is) only the most popular wines are going to be the best selling. Therefore, the people have voted, with their pocketbooks that is. So it stands to reason that the owners of the most popular wines will have the most money. So, naturally they will bid the highest!" I was on a roll now. "There we have it, a perfect example of Wine, the freedom of Democracy and the efficiency of Capitalism at work hand in hand and hand so to speak!"

Now everyone was rolling on the floor laughing "no one is ever going to buy into that idea, it's too stupid!" Calmly I explained, "but you are wrong, the idea is brilliant, they already do buy into the basic premise... Google built a multi-billion dollar business based on that very premise. Google couldn't figure out if a website was really any good, so they let other people decide for them. Their page ranking system is based upon link popularity to a website, the more links, the more popular, the 'more' better in Google's eyes. Advertisers love it. There is a whole cottage industry based upon it."

"So," said Susan, "what you are saying is that the people at Google knew they were clueless, so their solution to the problem was the harness the 'brain-power' of a lot of other clueless people?"

Well, I have to admit I never thought about it those terms. Besides who would want to be morally responsible for turning wine tasting into the equivalent of a web search on Google? Imaging going into a nice winery and only finding Two-buck Chuck?

Oh, well that's life, timing is everything. If I had been just a bit smarter and a bit faster maybe I wouldn't have founded Google, but I bet I could have sold the QAEJAA Award idea to the Financial Industry... too late now... well, maybe not... SEE YOU IN WASHINGTON!

Viva La QAEJAA! It's a new American tradition!




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