The international gourmet guide was created in 1969 by the two Frenchmen Henri Gault (1929-2000) and Christian Millau (1929-2017). Besides the Guide Michelin, it is one of the most influential French restaurant guides. In contrast to the latter, the Gault-Millau is not limited to a listing with rating symbols, but offers a verbal description. The guide is feared for his sometimes cynical-sarcastic formulations of extreme severity, which in the past often earned him threats of legal action and court cases. The guide is published annually with the regional editions for France, Germany (separate guide for Baden-Württemberg), Austria, Switzerland and South Tyrol.
The guide evaluates all kinds of locations with regard to the quality of their cuisine. It is evaluated according to the French school grading system from 0 to 20 points. The highest mark of 20 should not be given in Austria (in the spirit of the founders Gault and Millau), "because only the good Lord, but no man can determine perfection". Instead four (very rarely) to one cap (in Austria hoods) are awarded. The service, the ambience and the wine culture of the restaurant are described purely verbally. In addition to a ranking of the best in each case, the following promotions are also awarded: Chef of the Year, Restaurant (Hotel etc.) of the Year, Winery of the Year, as well as (for all categories) Newcomer of the Year and Up-and-Comer of the Year.
The "Gault Millau Deutschland" was first published in 1983 by the Munich-based Christian Verlag GmbH. In 2020 it was taken over by the media group Hubert Burda Media and Dr. Christoph Wirtz was appointed editor-in-chief. The author of "Stern", the "Welt am Sonntag", was a tester of several restaurant guides and a columnist for "Der Feinschmecker". The "Gault Millau Schweiz" has been published in German and French since 1982. The editor of "Gault Millau Austria" was Michael Reinartz from 1978 to 2005 (formerly also for Switzerland and Germany). For a circulated sum of € 600.000 the licence was awarded to the Austrian daily newspaper "Kurier" in 2006. The new publisher and editor-in-chief is Karl Hohenlohe and his wife Martina Hohenlohe Rosen, who were initially supported by Reinartz.
Since 1993, the annual "Gault-Millau Weinguide" has also been published with the best producers of wines, sparkling wines and schnapps. In an elaborate procedure, open tastings are first held on a farm (the farm and the wine are known). The best-rated wines from the wineries are then tasted again in groups in order to enable a cross comparison. The highest rated wines of the respective region are tasted again in different taste groups, often in form of a blind tasting. The highlight of the annual tasting marathon is the nationwide final tasting, where the best-rated wines of the regional eliminations are once again put to the test. Here, a large group of the regional officials taste together. The results of the open tasting will be checked by additional blind tastings. The wines are evaluated in the "WeinGuide Deutschland" according to the 100-point system, in the "WeinGuide Österreich" according to the 20-point system. See also under wine evaluation, wine guide, wine critic, wine with food.