There's a Restaurant here in a suburb of Toronto (Etobicoke) that has received the "Grand Award" multiple times.
I do agree they have a very impressive wine list, although the wines are in many cases extremely over priced.
But we live in a free market society and if people are silly enough to over pay for a product or service then they can't complain.
However I do believe a restaurant that receives the "Grand Award" should have a minimum number of certified sommeliers on staff to ensure proper service to its clientele.
Via Allegro restaurant here in Toronto (Etobicoke) has won the "Grand Award" two years in a row but has never had more than 3 certified sommeliers on staff (according to staff members I asked after receiving shoddy service from the sommeliers or rather the absence of on more than one occasion). This is a 180 seat restaurant with a wine list of likely 4500+ different wines available, many of which are rare trophy wines. It is not uncommon on a busy lunch or evening to have to wait 45 minutes or more for a sommelier to arrive after being requested. It's ludicrous that ones main course would be minutes away from arrival or worse having arrived prior to the sommelier to aid in choosing a wine. There have been many times that I have seen the head sommelier carrying multiple bottles for multiple tables while others wait for service. The bottles are given to servers some of which have very little if any wine knowledge to present and serve.
I can't imagine this is the level of service that a "Grand Award" recipient is expected to provide. So why has this been allowed to continue, why does this establishment subject its clientele to this type of mediocre wine service? I'm certain in one of Canada's largest cities there must be many qualified sommeliers.
So why does the Wine Spectator give its most prestigious "Grand Award" to a restaurant that clearly can't live up to the standards to which one would expect of a "Grand Award" recipient?
Why does Via Allegro subject its clientele to such poor service?
"Grand Award" what does it truly stand for?
I would imagine Via Allegro has submitted itself for another "Grand Award" for this coming year, perhaps rather than viewing a wine list the Wine Spectator should review a restaurants ability to provide the service expected of a "Grand Award" recipient for a change.
Unfortunately I am requested by out of town clients to take them to Via Allegro so they can experience the wine list of this so called "Grand Award" recipient. I explain the situation regarding wine service or lack there of by competent sommeliers and we still venture off. While they are always impressed by the wine list itself they are usually shocked and outraged by the lack of proper service one would expect for such a prestigious award.