Grey Goose

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

I just finished a splendid book, "The Forger's Spell" by Edward Dolnick, about how a mediocre painter named Han Van Meegeren painted a series of "Vermeers" in the 1930s and 1940s and conned the European art establishment into believing they were real. One of his forgeries was the crown jewel in the collection of the world's greatest art thief, Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering. It was a delicious hoax.

When I put the book down and started looking for news stories to pin this column to, I found August was an extraordinary month for hoaxes, fakes, scams, scandals and pranks. Let's start with Wine Spectator.

Thomas Matthews, Executive Editor of Wine Spectator, is pissed. For starters:

Wine Spectator learned yesterday that, for the first time in the 27-year history of our Restaurant Awards program, a fictitious restaurant has entered its wine list for judging. To orchestrate his publicity-seeking scam, Robin Goldstein created a fictitious restaurant in Milan, Italy, called Osteria L'Intrepido, and then submitted a menu and wine list to Wine Spectator's Restaurant Awards as a new entry in 2008. The wine list earned an Award of Excellence, the most basic of our three award levels. Goldstein revealed his elaborate hoax at a meeting in Oregon last week. He is now crowing about the fraud on his own Web site. The story has been picked up in the blogosphere, and now Wine Spectator would like to set forth the actual facts of the matter.

"Facts of the matter?"

Mr. Matthews, you were bamboozled. Hornswoggled. Thimblerigged. Flimflammed. Your awards program is a deeply flawed business model.

Gotcha!

Last October, my wife, Peggy, and I invited our good friends Paul Goldberg and Joseph Dipper to lunch in Chicago, where we were all attending the DMA Conference. The hotel concierge recommended NoMI on the seventh floor of the Chicago Park Hyatt. Our table by the big window overlooked the iconic Chicago Water Tower, constructed in 1869 of Joliet (Illinois) limestone blocks and one of the few survivors of the 1871 Great Fire. Everything about the restaurant was world-class—the décor, service, food, wine and vodka (Grey Goose). Dining doesn’t get any better than that, and I would recommend it to anybody who has plenty

Last week, my wife, Peggy, and I schlepped into New York for an awards luncheon. Peggy and I were each honorees at different times, and feel that attending is something that we should do to support the organization. The VIP reception started at 10:30 a.m., and the Grey Goose vodka was free. And even though it blows my tight writing schedule sky high, we see a bevy of chums from the good old days. That said, I will never again attend this event and will be very choosy about future awards ceremonies, even though I thoroughly enjoyed the early a.m. white eye-openers on the

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