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No getting past the awards

By Dave Buchanan
A recent comment from reader Bob about my column on Dolce Vita getting an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine got me to thinking about wine awards, wine lists in this town and what both of them mean to the casual wine drinker. Bob's contention is that the Wine Spectator award ain't no big deal because anyone who sends in the money can get that award. There's more to it than that, of course, including having a comprehensive and imaginative wine list that pairs with your food. But there is a fee, and if you want your photo accompanying your listing in the magazine, that's a little extra. Bob also makes the point there are other great wine lists in this town and evidently those establishments didn't think it necessary to reach out for the Wine Spectator recognition. But getting a WS award is more than simply having something to hang on the wall. Along with the recognition there is an economic benefit. Several other WS winners have noted that customers come from out of town to try an Award of Excellence winner. And some travelers make it a point to stop at WS winners, so along with new business there's the chance of some valuable word-of-mouth advertising. Bob's point are well-taken but in my opinion, for someone looking for a wine list that might hold a few surprises (go ahead, be adventurous), a WS Award of Excellence winner is a great place to start. Particularly if you don't know much about this or any city's restaurants and are looking for a place to start. Does this award mean Rick Crippen at Dolce Vita has collected the city's best wine list? Maybe. Or maybe not, since selecting a "best" wine list would be as subjective as liking every one of the wines Crippen has gathered. Is there a "best wine list" in Grand Junction? Hard to say, since there are several restaurants with extensive lists and each one is unique. But it sure would be fun to tackle the challenge, wouldn't it?


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