The news that Wine Spectator magazine was scammed into giving an Award of Excellence to a non-existent restaurant has been greeted with guffaws by schadenfreude fans and with fury by the magazine’s editor.
Wine Spectator is a lifestyle magazine, not a wine magazine. If you don't understand what I mean, then take a look at Wine Spectator one day when you are checking out at the liquor store and pay attention to the ads.
The key thing to remember about Wine Spectator scores is that it is not a scale from 0-100, as you might imagine when you see a score of 87 or 79. Rather it is a scale from 51-100. So when a wine has a score of 90, it is really an 80, and when a wine is 75 it is really a 70.
The best way to buy wine is to find a store that consistently stocks good wine, whose owners and managers are dedicated to carrying and selling good product. If you find such a store in your area, patronize it religiously. Then you don't need Wine Spectator or other guides, only a willingness to explore and find hidden delights (One of the joys of wine is that it varies from year to year, from field to field, from winemaker to winemaker. It is ephemeral. Most wines cannot be cellared. It is meant to be drunk and enjoyed, preferably shared with friends.).