Monday, June 27, 2016

The MS and the HMW--The Hair and The Hair Not Apparent

Creating and writing HoseMaster of Wine™ has been a remarkable experience for me. I’ve said this repeatedly—I’m amazed anyone reads this crap. And, truthfully, not that many people do. Not compared to, say, Wine Spectator, or The Wine Advocate, or any other throwaways. But in the tiny pond that is wine satire, I’m not so much the big fish as I am the pond scum. I look interesting, but once I get on you, it’s pretty disgusting. You feel like you need a shower.

Wine has been my career. I take it seriously. But taking wine too seriously is, to the HoseMaster, profoundly silly. Writing is also a lifelong passion of mine. I take writing seriously, too. I’m not sure what bothers me more about wine writing on the Intergnats—the emptiness of the subject matter, or the amazing dearth of writing talent. You have only to glance through the winners of the recent Wine Blog Awards—for the love of God, don’t waste any time on them—to understand my disdain.

Satire matters. I inadvertently created a small niche for myself in the wine writing business by satirizing all things wine. I will not claim to be a great satirist. Relentless, maybe, but far from great. I do try to be equally unfair to everyone. I don’t have an agenda. I’m an Equal Opportunity Offender. A lot of wine bloggers hate me, a lot of wine writers hate me (no, bloggers are not by definition writers—typing is not writing, no matter what marketing folks say), and a lot of sommeliers hate me. It’s the gig. You want to be loved by the wine biz, write praise, propaganda and pap. It’s everywhere. Take a whack at it. I prefer to be slightly feared, mildly admired, and generally disliked. And left alone.

A couple of weeks ago, Geoff Kruth MS, sent me an email asking me if I would engage in an email conversation with him about sommeliers, a conversation that would be published on the Guild of Sommeliers (Guildsomm) site. I confess to being surprised. I've not been kind to Master Sommeliers, sommeliers, or to Mr. Kruth. But that's not what I do here, is it? Geoff offered to pay me for my time. I assented to the conversation, but donated my time. His monetary offer was generous, but I felt that donating my meager talents to the Guild of Sommeliers was a small act of kindness to a group of folks who have provided me with astonishing amounts of comic material. Seemed like good karma.

Anyhow, the conversation was published last week on their site, and since I was too busy to crank out my usual crap this week, I am linking to it as my Monday post. It's like having a week off! If you’re interested in the conversation between Geoff Kruth, Master of All Sommeliers, and the HoseMaster of Wine™, by all means, check it out. If you’re not interested, go on over to Wine Folly and see what mindless crap she’s up to.

Here is the link:


Monday, June 20, 2016

Donald Trump, the Emperor of Wine, Announces Trump International Tasting Sweepstakes!

You know what, there’s too many wine competitions. Too many, folks. And you know who’s running a lot of them? Newspapers! What the hell are newspapers doing running wine competitions? They don’t even have wine writers anymore. Really. There are no wine writers working at newspapers, not the real newspapers. There’s some at other papers, but they’re not real writers. Let’s face it, Lettie Teague is no Bill O’Reilly. By the way, Bill’s got a new book coming out about me. It’s called, “Killing the Republicans.” Gonna be YUGE!  And not only do the newspapers have wine competitions, they have wine clubs! Unbelievable. The New York Times has a wine club! I guess the motto is, “All the juice that’s fit to spit.” Yeah, that’s good. Though “Juice” kinda sounds like “Jews”, which is probably right.

Listen, if I told you how those wine competitions work, it would make you sick. They’re all fake, ladies and gentlemen. 100% bogus. Believe me, Donald Trump, your Emperor of Wine, knows fake. Those gold medals and platinum medals and Zirconium medals, they don’t mean anything! Or double gold medals. Can someone explain to me what a double gold medal is? They don’t have double gold medals at the Olympics, do they? What is that? You win the 100 meter dash, and get Zika virus? You know, speaking of the Olympics, I asked Melania to get a Brazilian, and now our maid speaks Portuguese. She’ll be a great First Lady. She'll be better than Dolly Madison, and with better donut holes. But I’m telling you, there’s no such thing as a double gold. Unless you’re talkin’ about my nuts.

So today, I, Donald Trump, your Emperor of Wine, am announcing the launch of my latest wine empire—the Trump International Tasting Sweepstakes. Believe me when I tell you this is going to be big. Really big. T.I.T.S. is going to be YUGE. We’re going to make wine competitions great again. This country needs one great wine competition, and I’m the guy who can make that happen. I’m going to beat all those other wine competitions like a rap star’s wife.

First of all, I’m going to have great judges. The greatest judges in the world. Those other wine competitions, they have terrible judges. Really. Most of them aren’t even very qualified. Or they’re really prejudiced, like that Mexican judge who hates me and thinks Trump University is a fraud. Listen, if I want to see a Mexican on the bench, I can go to my local park, there’s a hundred of ‘em, I don’t need to go to court. Anyway, all you have to do is look at the list of wine judges for any major wine competition and you’ll see what I mean. Who are these people? I don’t know a single one of them. Why do I care what they think about wine? They’re losers. Every one of them. And it’s the same losers at every competition! Some of these so-called judges judge at twenty or thirty competitions! That’s crazy. That’s not the America we want to live in. You don’t get to vote in thirty elections; you get one vote, if you’re lucky. It’s un-American the way wine competitions are run. Except they also don’t let anyone vote that’s poor and black. I get that. I get that.

TITS is going to have the greatest judges in the world. Big names. Names you recognize. Howard Stern. Yes. Howard Stern is going to be one of the wine judges. Charlie Sheen. I know, I know, Charlie Sheen! Big star. And knows about drinking, actually knows something about wine. Barbara Walters! Who can you trust more than Barbara Walters? No, she’s not dead. I know, I thought she was, too. See, these are the kind of people I’ll have judging TITS—Howard Stern and Charlie Sheen. And I’m pretty sure I’m gonna get Cosby, too. Man, don’t leave the room when you’re judging with the Cos, you never know what’s going to be in your wine when you get back. You wake up stuck with the Bill.

We don’t need any other wine competitions, we only need TITS. Once I get this thing going, I’m going to ban all the other wine competitions. They don’t belong in this country. We’ve put up with their tactics long enough. You walk into a store to buy a bottle of wine, and every bottle, every bottle, has a gold medal from somebody. It’s crazy. It’s insane. It’s like giving everyone in this country who works hard, the ones who weren’t even born here, citizenship. We don’t do that. If you’re not born here, you’re not American. Like Ted Cruz, and Obama, and Céline Dion—they’re not Americans, folks. They’re all Canadians, all born in Canadia. Though I love Céline Dion, especially with the Belmonts. And most of those wines at the store, the ones with gold medals? They’re not gold medal wines, folks. We give gold medals to every wine, we might as well allow Muslims to be citizens. And then what? You wake up one day and every city has a Ramadan Inn. Not on my watch.

Every wine that gets a gold medal from TITS is going to be fantastic. Fantastic. You can go to any store in the country, buy a wine that has a TITS gold medal, and it will be fantastic. In fact, I’m not going to call them “gold medals.” They’re going to be “Donalds.” Mark my words, by next year, every winery in the world is going to be bragging that their wine got a Donald. There aren’t going to be any silvers or bronzes. Who the hell cares about a silver medal? If you’re a winery, why are you bragging that you got a silver medal? That’s like bragging that you’re a woman. Yeah, it’s fine, it’s slightly better than nothing, but it’s not a Donald! It’s second best at best. Never brag about a silver medal. You’re just not good enough. You’re a loser. Your wine is like Ben Carson. Why is it even here?

The Trump International Tasting Sweepstakes is going to have more entries than any other wine competition. By a lot. I’m thinking 25,000 entries. That’s every wine on the planet that we’re going to judge. Every wine. And that’s just for starters. And only the greatest wines in the world are going to be given a Donald. Nothing pink. I promise you, nothing pink is going to get a Donald. Wine is red or white, not pink. And not orange. Nothing good is orange. Except my hair. It’s wine writers who gave us so much pink wine and orange wine, and there won’t be any wine writers judging TITS, though most stare at them like they’re aliens. Orange wine! What is that? Yeah, they screwed up red wine by making it pink, so now they have to screw up white wine by making it orange. No Donalds. I promise you.

While I'm Emperor of Wine there won’t be any more wine competitions. Those no-name wine judges will all be homeless. Well, that’s no big deal, most of them are now. But you’ll be able to go to the store, find a wine that won a Donald, and know that it will be the most fantastic wine you ever tasted. And everyone will know what a great American you are, that you support Trump, that you’re the kind of American who put Donald in his mouth, and swallowed.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Dr. Conti's Letter from Prison

Prison isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It’s actually sort of peaceful and lovely out here in Taft. I’m getting along great with my cellmate, Franz, a neo-Nazi studying for his M.S. I think he’s got a great career ahead of him as a sommelier. Well, except he only likes whites. Reds give him headaches, he says. This from a guy with a tattoo on his shaved head of Alice Feiring. At least I think it’s Alice Feiring—it could be Carrot Top, it’s hard to tell. And now that I’ve started a wine tasting group on my cellblock, I actually look forward to #WineWednesday. No, we’re not allowed real wine in glass bottles, we’re in prison! But I have some pretty convincing fakes I’ve carved from soap. Filled with water and poured into cups, all soapy and bubbly, it’s surprisingly close to drinking Veuve Clicquot!

I miss my friends though. No one ever visits. No BurgHound, no Wasserman. I used to have so many friends when I was opening rare and expensive wines, or reasonable facsimiles, every night. All the wine glitterati in L.A. knew me. I guess they don’t come to visit because they’re mad that I made them look stupid. But I didn’t mean to. I just wanted them to like me. Offering to open up old vintages of D.R.C. from your cellar is how you get to be somebody in the L.A. wine scene. I really didn’t think it mattered that I had refilled the bottles with a mix of Beaujolais Nouveau, Dr. Pepper, and Miracle Gro®. It tasted like Domaine Ponsot to them. They’d all say it tasted just like they remembered it, and I’d just smile to myself. I was making them happy. I thought that was the point of wine. Drink great labels and be happy. Thinking that the wine inside is more important than the label is like thinking it’s more important for your trophy wife to be smart than gorgeous. That won’t get you anywhere. My fake wines were a lot like fake tits. Mostly, rich guys don’t care if they’re fake.

But when they found out that I had been serving them fake wines, they all claimed I had a sophisticated palate. I guess it’s like how after there’s a mass murder, all the neighbors say the killer seemed like such a nice guy, that setting fire to cats was just a hobby and there were too many strays anyway. And, well, in Franz’s case, it’s true. We don’t want people to think we’re stupid, we want them to think we were fooled by some sort of diabolical genius. I know about as much about old Burgundy as I know about shuttlecock (Franz’s little nickname for it), but those wine “experts” knew right away I was the real thing, a Burgundy savant. It’s just so easy to fool people when it comes to wine. I figured out quickly that when wine people say, “Everyone has their own palate,” what they mean is, “Mine is really great, and yours isn’t worth a shit, and I’m really insecure.”

Prison has also given me a lot of time to think about what I did. I still don’t think the punishment fit the crime. You know, I wasn’t the only one fleecing rich fucks out of money. The auction houses did most of it. They pretty much told me how to make fake labels that wouldn’t be detected. All I had to do was buy their fraud “expert” lunch, and ask! And then they played dumb when I kept supplying them with more and more wine from my magical wine cellar that they’d sell to the fools who play the wine auction market. Why weren’t they prosecuted? So let’s say I drive my unmarked, windowless van to a Home Depot and ask the guy working there how to make a bomb from fertilizer. Just curious. And then after he tells me, I have him load up the van with several hundred pounds of fertilizer and several sacks of beebees. How many vans do I have to blow up outside Federal buildings before it’s also the fault of the guys at Home Depot, too? How come when the fake wine scandal blew up, I’m the only one who got shit on him? There wasn’t enough for Acker Merrall, too? Maybe shit don’t show on what’s already shit.

But I’m not bitter. Franz says deep down I wanted to get caught. Fucking Franz—not even an MS yet and he knows everything. Though it’s cool how he has just a little patch of hair growing on his head that makes Alice look all natural. Or Carrot Top. How do you tell the difference? And he might be right. I was doing so great until I pulled that bonehead move of putting a vintage on the Domaine Ponsot bottle that was before they even made that Burgundy. In hindsight, maybe that was my cry for help. That’s what Franz says, and, believe me, he’s heard my cry for help a lot.

The FBI made a big show of destroying all the evidence in my case, all those cool bottles I made at home. And I guess that made people think that means all the rest of the wines up for auction now are legit. Auctions seem to be doing better than ever. It just shows you how stupid people are. There were fake wines in the market long before Dr. Conti became the Wolfgang Beltracchi of wine. Collectors have purchased hundreds and hundreds of fraudulent wines for generations now, put them in their wine cellars, died, and then the fake wines are auctioned off again to another rich collector who dies and his family auctions off his wines to yet another dumbshit wine collector. And why worry? The auction house guarantees the provenance and the genuineness of all the wine it sells. Yeah, like when they came to inspect my house in San Marino. I didn’t know they were coming, and all my labeling and corking equipment was everywhere. I told them I was making meth on the side. They were fine with that. But maybe I shouldn’t have those empty Screaming Eagle bottles so close to the cold medicines.

These rich men with huge wine cellars filled with trophy wine, they don’t really care if the wines are genuine. Everything valuable and collectible that’s sold to wealthy people is going to be counterfeited by somebody. Art, handbags, wine. But it’s hard to sell fake Burgundy on a street corner in New York. You need an accomplice. Somebody stupid, or somebody willing to ignore the obvious. An auction house. Dress it up, put it in a pretty catalog, put your reputation behind it, and market it to your well-to-do clientele. The auction houses are like escort services for wine. Buy something rare and pretty that you’d never be able to get otherwise, take it home, and, bang, you’re quietly fucked. Best for everyone if we just keep quiet about it. No sense making us rich folks look degenerate or stupid. Whores and wine auctions never go out of business.

It’s kind of nice to get all this off my chest. Franz says I have a lot of anger issues. And I do. I love wine. I love the people who love wine. Such a kind and generous bunch. I wanted to do something nice for them. Make their dreams come true. So I opened countless bottles of old and rare wines for them. They’re still bragging to their friends that they tasted ’47 Cheval Blanc and ’59 Margaux, every vintage of Screaming Eagle, Burgundies from the 1920’s. So ask yourself this, was it the wines that were fake, or the wine experts drinking them?