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Posted: Thursday, 31 July 2014 10:54

Clean Sweep by Taj for Wine Spectator Restaurant Awards

July 31: Although Taj group of hotels has practically monopolized the annual ’Award of excellence’ given by Wine Spectator to the wine lists around 3000 restaurants across the world for several years, it has made a clean sweep this year with Blue Ginger and Orient Express at the Taj Palace, Delhi repeating the 2-glasses of last year, with 3 awards for Mumbai, 2 for Bangalore and 1 for Taj Exotica Goa, reports Subhash Arora

Two restaurants at the Taj Palace in Delhi-Blue Ginger and the Orient Express have once again bagged the second highest ‘Best of Award of Excellence’, denoted by 2 wineglasses. The remaining 6 restaurants have been awarded the single glass ‘Award of Excellence’ won by 2789 restaurants across the world.

There are no winners from India in the top award called the Grand Awards (3-glasses) category which sees 74 winners, compared to 73 last year. It includes Antica Bodega del Vino (Verona), Joel Robuchon (Las Vegas, Hong Kong), La Pergola (Rome), Le Louis XV –Alain Ducasse (Paris), RN 74 (San Francisco), Robuchon Au Dome (Macau) and French Laundry (Yountville). 883 Restaurants received the ‘Best of Award of Excellence.

Last year the Restaurant Wine List Awards 2013 included 18 awards for Indian Restaurants in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore and Goa, 14 of which were cornered by the Taj group across all cities with the Leela, Crowne Plaza, Sahara Star and the Village Square, a Boutique Resort in Goa managing one award each. The stand alone restaurants were conspicuous by their absence, yet another time.

‘Wine Spectator's Restaurant Wine List Awards’ recognize restaurants ‘whose wine lists offer interesting selections, are appropriate to their cuisine and appeal to a wide range of wine lovers. To qualify for an award, the list must present complete, accurate wine information. It must include vintages and appellations for all selections, including wines available by the glass, according to the’ company website. Complete producer names and correct spellings are mandatory, while the overall presentation and appearance of the list is also taken into consideration. After meeting these basic requirements, lists are judged for one of the three awards.

Wine Spectator clarifies that the awards evaluate wine lists and not restaurants as a whole. ‘While we assume that the level of food and service will be commensurate with the wine lists entered by award winners, this unfortunately is not always true,’ concedes WS.

The 2008 Debacle

The Award has lost a bit of its sheen since 2008 when a fictitious restaurant in Milan calling itself  ' Osteria  L'Intrepido' was given an ‘Award of excellence’ despite the wine list that featured a 1993 Amarone Classico Gioe S. Sofia, which the magazine once had earlier said, tasted like paint thinner and nail varnish. A wine critic, who entered the fictitious List from a non-existent restaurant, claimed that the Awards were merely a tool of making money from the participants and advertisements. The so- called fiasco was reported in delWine

Ritu Dalmia of Diva Restaurant in Delhi would perhaps agree with the wine critic. Once proud of her Award of Excellence that she received regularly along with the Mumbai-based Indigo owned by another wine aficionado Rahul Akerkar, she does not apply for these awards anymore even though she has one of the best wine lists. ‘When they don’t bother to check the details and want only the money, where is the satisfaction that I have achieved something when I win an Award ?’ she says, adding, ‘I’d rather spend the $250 they charge as application fee, on something more productive. I am happier with my clients being satisfied.’ She stopped applying for the Awards after the 2008 episode, she says.

While delWine congratulates the Taj group as the sole winner for the first time (it would be nice to know who else applied for them from India), the management shouldn’t start believing that they have the stamp of the best wine lists in India; based on last year’s statistics over 90% of the applicants are awarded. It would be interesting to know if they have been obliged to advertise the way the Awards has become infamous for. At least a serious group of restaurateurs who take their wine lists seriously would like to believe so.

Here is a list of the Awards for India:

Blue Ginger   Delhi   Taj Palace   Best of Award of Excellence  
Orient Express    Delhi   Taj Palace    Best of Award of Excellence  
Blue Ginger   Bangalore   Taj Westend     Award of excellence  
Masala Klub   Bangalore   Taj Westend    Award of excellence  
Miguel Arcanzo   Goa   Taj Exotica    Award of excellence  
Souk   Mumbai   Taj Mahal Palace   Award of excellence  
The Zodiac Grill   Mumbai   Taj Mahal Palace    Award of excellence  
Wasabi by Morimoto   Mumbai   Taj Mahal Palace    Award of excellence  

Details of the Awards globally may be viewed on:

For our first Report on the award in 2007, please visit Taj Wine List gets a Taj from Wine Spectator 

For the last year’s award in 2013, please visit
Another Wah- Taj by Wine Spectator for its Wine Lists

Subhash Arora


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