After months of soul searching and consideration, and in the interest of transparency and full disclosure, I have decided to list the ingredients and processes that go into each piece on HoseMaster of Wine™. I am hopeful that my candor and honesty will spread throughout the wine blog world. As it stands now, when you read a wine blog you have no idea what went into the blog, aside from alcohol-fueled stupidity and the vocabulary of a porpoise, i.e. whistling through the blowhole. Nothing harmful is ever added to a HoseMaster of Wine™ article, though nausea can be a direct side effect. If you find yourself becoming slightly nauseated when reading, it’s wise to either induce vomiting, or, if you’re uncomfortable sticking a finger down your own throat, here’s a link that should work.
Once you’ve read through the ingredients, demand of other bloggers that they do the same for their blogs. Ask yourself, what are they hiding? Consider never reading any wine blog that doesn’t list its ingredients. Many are dangerous and cause irreparable brain damage; others are known to have caused cutting. I know a woman who cannot read Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman without slowly slicing her forearms with a Ginsu knife. While clearly appropriate, this is dangerous behavior induced by the blog’s content. At least the knife isn’t dull.
And, also, remember not to vote for any wine blog nominated for a Poodle Award that hasn’t fully disclosed its ingredient list. This would set a terrible precedent. Winners could do harm to unsuspecting new readers—there have been reports of headaches, sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction, but those reports are unconfirmed, and why would you believe my wife anyway? The wine blog world is nearly ten years old now. Isn’t it time we disclose what we’re made of?
Venom: It takes plenty of venom to produce HoseMaster of Wine™. Most wine blogs have very little venom content. In fact, most have little content at all. Remember, if you have been bitten by one of my blog posts, it will hurt for a moment, but don’t panic. Rather than overreact, experts recommend you suck it.
Wine: Inebriation is a key ingredient and I never skimp. I ask that you use HoseMaster of Wine™ responsibly and in moderation. Do not operate heavy machinery while reading. Do not read if you are pregnant. If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, call me. Operators are standing by, but I don’t care if they watch if you don’t. If reading the blog with a group, please use a Designated Reader who is to remain sober and never laugh. Well, the never laugh part is easy.
Artificial Sweeteners: Occasionally something sweet appears in HoseMaster of Wine™. Trust me, this is artificial.
Thought: Only tiny bits of thought are ever used in the production of HoseMaster of Wine™, but at least it’s not some stupid compendium of links to other websites that takes no goddam thought at all.
Wit Substitutes: In the absence of wit, which is known to be carcinogenic, I use wit substitutes. Common wit substitutes include puns, long sentences that sound like wit but really aren’t, sarcastic remarks that widely miss the mark (often called “snarky” by ignorant shitheads), and Randall Grahm sloppy seconds. Wit substitutes are rarely found in wine blogs, which seem to prefer going entirely witless.
Irony: Just listing irony is ironic. Isn’t that ironic? Hell, I put the “ron” in ironic. And without a condom.
Meat Byproducts: Strictly to protect against unwanted Spam.
HoseMaster of Wine™ was produced in a facility that handles my nuts. If you are allergic to my nuts, you are advised to read another blog, or to ingest a small part of my nuts on a daily basis until the allergy subsides.
HoseMaster of Wine™ has been known to cause birth defects in lab rats, like we give a fuck about lab rats.
If after reading HoseMaster of Wine™ you have an erection lasting more than four hours, well, that’s just about average. Try harder.
Objects appearing in HoseMaster of Wine™ are closer than they appear. Objects appearing in my pants are larger than they appear.
By law, HoseMaster of Wine™ is allowed to contain small pieces of rat turd, otherwise known as the Hundred Point Scale.
Do not use HoseMaster of Wine™ in an enclosed space. The fumes are explosive. If you smell anything resembling Grüner Veltliner, immediately open the windows and shout, “It wasn’t me, it was the dog.” In an actual emergency, an oxygen mask will drop from the ceiling. Place the mask over your face, inhale like you have emphysema, and say, “Luke, I’m your father.”
They were just gone one day. All of them. It had been prophesied, but who believes prophets? There are rarely real prophets in the wine business. Not for those who’d disappeared anyway. One day the landscape was littered with Natural Wine winemakers, the next day they had vanished quicker than the finish on one of their wines. They weren’t at a conference. They weren’t at a public wine tasting selling their wines to novice wine drinkers drunk on their own righteousness, the deluded who profess that they can only drink Natural Wines or their delicate systems revolt (these folks are often revolting), and spiritual drifters. They weren’t buried in amphorae in a remote canyon, or in shrines of their own making. They’d spent their Earthly lives in shrines of their own making. They were just gone.
It was what they’d all been waiting for. The Rapture.
For a short period of time the prices of Natural Wines skyrocketed. Demand far outstripped supply. It wasn’t unheard of for a thirty dollar bottle to sell in excess of $300. But the winemaker had to have vanished May 16, 2013, the Day of The Rapture. That was what validated that the wines were genuinely “natural.” Just as a painter’s works jump in value upon his death, so the last of the true Natural Wines became priceless. Wines left behind in barrels were confiscated, moved to a central warehouse, and closely monitored by the government to ensure they weren’t manipulated in any way. Professional critics were enlisted to periodically check the barrels to make absolutely sure they were reassuringly faulty and malodorous to normal people. Once bottled, without both sulfites and conscience, in tribute to the vanished winemakers, the wines were auctioned and the money distributed to the widows and children left behind by The Rapture.
Controversy and violent protests broke out in wine regions across the world. Hundreds and hundreds of winemakers who had declared their wines “natural” had been Left Behind. Left behind unjustly, they proclaimed. A spokeswoman emerged, the champion of the Natural Wine movement, and the maligned, still alive, natural winemakers rallied behind her, calling themselves The Feiring Squad.
“Our wines are natural,” The Feiring Squad declared, “and we have the marketing material to prove it. Furthermore, our wines have been declared Natural, been declared Real, been declared Authentic by the experts empowered to declare them so. They have tasted the wines! Did the God who delivered The Rapture ever taste our wines? Who does He think he is? Robert Parker? He may be God, but He’s no Robert Parker.
“We have been blessed by the writings of Alice, legitimized in the works of the Hobbit Jamie Goode, made real, like Pinocchio, by the Good Fairy Jeremy Parzen, and yet we remain. Our brothers and sisters who were taken from us during what is now referred to as The Wine Rapture most assuredly deserved their disappearances. I think every wine lover applauds their disappearance. But The Feiring Squad protests! We should have been taken too.”
Some desperate winemakers, who had disingenuously declared their wines natural, went into hiding, pretending that they had vanished during The Rapture. They anonymously posted on popular wine blogs, declaring themselves “vanished” in an attempt to drive the prices of their wines higher, and to save their manufactured reputations. But most finally had to emerge from hiding and admit that they hadn’t actually made Natural Wine in the first place. “I didn’t really manipulate my wine that much,” one said, as he was publicly humiliated and scorned, “I spent most of my time manipulating the press. I lied, I exaggerated, I hid a few facts, who did it hurt? If it weren’t for that fucking Rapture, I’d still be a hero to the shitheads who believe in Natural Wine.”
Husbands and wives left behind that fateful May Day in 2013 also formed an alliance, Spouses Overwhelmed Too, abbreviated SO2. SO2 members dressed exclusively in white and were invited to attend every serious winery’s blessing of the Harvest, where they spoke of their beloved taken by The Rapture, their beloved’s purity and devotion to wine, their lost partner’s belief that only Nature and God can make wine that is worth drinking and that a winemaker doesn’t need skill or discernment or a background in chemistry and viticulture to make wine, a winemaker just needs blind devotion to non-intervention and a really gullible mailing list. SO2 members were considered saints and clairvoyants, and wonderful paint ball targets.
The reward for those who had actually followed the rigorous standards of Natural Wine was being taken to Heaven by The Rapture. Those lucky few, one who had been having unnatural intercourse with a miniature sheep when he abruptly vanished, leaving ewe perplexed, and one who had been speaking at a winemaker dinner at a Vegan restaurant when he suddenly wasn’t there any more, his audience turning pale and gaseous (in other words, unchanged), among others, would forever be revered as Natural Winemakers. No scientific explanation was ever offered for their massive disappearance. None was needed. God had called them home to tend his Heavenly vineyards, to make wine only for Him. God knows it wouldn’t kill Him, anyway.
The Feiring Squad eventually disbanded, their pleas and excuses unheeded and disbelieved. Alice was left to write only obituaries, to beg to taste the last of the Natural Wines to have been auctioned off, to whither away into wine obscurity, alone with her inflatable Nicholas Joly doll, otherwise known as Nicholas Joly. SO2 became a mere footnote to The Rapture, their presence at an event a reminder of the basic dishonesty in the Natural Wine movement, their number so small compared to those who had lied and lied and yet whose spouses were never left behind.
Twenty years later it was back. Climate change was still on the world’s back burner, the one that burns petroleum. Many of the large mammals of the world had gone extinct, including most NFL players. The oceans were rising faster than the water in Marvin Shanken’s bathtub when he gets in. And Natural Wines, Real Wines, Authentic Wines returned.
But there was no Second Rapture. “Fuck ‘em,” God said, “if they’re that stupid.”
In February 2010, I published this lampoon of Alder Yarrow's Vinography. I think his was the first wine blog I parodied, and it raised something of a ruckus. Not as much as my later piece about Alice Feiring, but plenty. I was always offended by Yarrow's nonsensical notion that he could adequately taste several hundred wines in a few hours, and his post about the 2010 ZAP tasting must have pushed me over the edge. Though it doesn't take much to push the HoseMaster over the edge. The original post generated in the neighborhood of 60 comments. From 2010, here is Vornography:
the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) throw a tasting in my honor
at Fort Mason in San Francisco. I'm honored that they do this for me, I
don't see myself as worthy of the honor, I'm just a humble blogger who
is frequently given accolades, awards, free trips, free wine and
inexplicable admiration from an industry that deeply admires sycophants.
The theme of this year's ZAP tasting in my honor was "Alder Zin You Can
Drink," and, as I do every year, I agreed to allow others in the
industry, as well as every day people, to attend. I don't have to do
this, but I feel that wine is best when it's shared, and, besides, it's
really lonely being the best blogger in the country.
fewer wineries this year, which I was not happy about and someone will
pay, believe me, but the good news is that it meant I only had 740 wines
to taste so I'd have an extra hour to come home and post pretty
pictures on my blog. I'd really like to post pictures of kitties, I love
kitties, especially in ribbons, but that wouldn't be right so I post
trite photos by Andy Katz--get it? Katz? I post pictures of Katz! And
you wonder why I win wine blog awards!
I was honored by the 220
or so wineries who chose to pour me wine at ZAP. Part of the enjoyment I
get out of this annual event (last year's theme was "We All Live in a
Yarrow Submarine") is the time I get to spend with all my many friends
that produce Zinfandel all over the state, and even the world! People
even come from Italy and South Africa to pour wines for me, hoping for a
coveted 9.5 to 10 score, which I only give to 40% of the wines I taste
so they are really going against the odds. This year I was honored to
spend 11 seconds talking to Joel Peterson, the heroic producer and
founder of Ravenswood, 8 seconds tasting with Larry Turley, and a full
15 seconds reveling in the stories of Kent Rosenblum. Did you know he's a
veterinarian? When Dr. Rosenblum tells you you're a horse's ass for
claiming you can taste and rate 740 wines in a day, you know he knows
what he's talking about!
I was also asked to moderate a panel
about Zinfandel and Social Media the Friday before the ZAP tasting. I am
often asked to sit on panels because I'm the most respected wine
blogger in the country and I can answer many questions that prospective
bloggers constantly ask. For example, I am often asked what has made my
blog so successful. It's not that big a secret. What makes Vornography
so successful is that most people can't tell the difference between
being prolific and being good. Choose prolific. And, always, they want
to know how to get wineries to send them free samples. Here's where my
journalism background comes in handy. Puff pieces. Wineries love puff
pieces about themselves and I do that better than anyone else blogging
today. You can't go wrong writing fluff, being a fluffer, about a winery
owner fulfilling a dream. They eat it up, they post it on their
website, they tweet about it, and they send me every release of wine
they ever produce hoping I'll flatter them again. It's essentially like
taking candy from trust fund babies.
Tasting 740 wines in six
hours is no big deal, but, obviously I'm not superhuman enough to also
take tasting notes. That would be ludicrous and, frankly, arrogant.
Besides, no one reads tasting notes, tasting notes are just filler, like
the white stuff in Twinkies, it's just there to distract you from what
really matters, the delicious cake outsides. And it's all Zinfandel
anyway. You already know what Zinfandel tastes like, it tastes kind of
like berries. All you need to know is what I think about the wines as
reflected in my scores. You already know my taste in wine, you've been
faithfully following my blog for more than six years now, and if you're
new here, well, take it from all of my regular longtime readers, my
scores are valid and meaningful and come from my astonishing seven years
of experience tasting wines. You can tell how valid my scores are by
all the winery people kissing my butt in the comments section. I list
the 740 wines grouped by my vague scores in such a way that it
enlightens you as to which Zinfandels are worth your hard-earned money.
The ones at the top. They tasted the best. Trust me.
After 19 years as a Sommelier in Los Angeles, twice named Sommelier of the Year by the Southern California Restaurant Writers' Association, I moved to Sonoma County to explore the other aspects of the wine business. I've spent, OK wasted, 35 years learning about and teaching about and swallowing wine. I am also a judge at the Sonoma Harvest Fair, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the San Francisco International Wine Competition--so I can spit like a rabid llama. I know more about wine than David Sedaris and I'm funnier than James Laube. Stay tuned for an informed but jaded view of everything wine and everything else.
I'm living proof that alcohol kills brain cells.
What the Critics Are Saying About HoseMaster of Wine
"If you want a great hoot and howl moment or two...go read the HoseMaster's year-end reflections...that guy is without a doubt the funniest SOB in the blog-world...and thank him for having the brains and balls to target his laser of laughter on anybody...HoseMaster for President...HoseMaster for Blogger of the Year...although he would be the first to say the bar is so damn low for that award, he should win it every year..." --Robert Parker
"No one is immune from California sommelier and wine judge Ron Washam's skewering. He polishes that skewer with boundless enthusiasm and acuity."
"Washam uses his own blog, HoseMaster of Wine, to skewer the industry in general and wine blogs in particular. If your mouse scoots to your browser's close box while reading a wine blog, Washam may be the blogger for you."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"...that guy Hosemaster has real talent...if you ask me sign him up for Comedy Central...he's the funniest guy since Adam Carolla's hilarious book...IN 50 YEARS WE WILL ALL BE CHICKS..."
"Ron Washam, former sommelier, is easily the most bitingly funny blogger/wine writer that we have ever come across. He is an equal opportunity crusader who pillories big wineries and amateur bloggers alike, as well as everything and everyone in between...One needs a sense of humor and a tolerance for earthiness to enjoy reading The Hosemaster. We must have both because this guy deserves a wider audience, in our humble opinion." --Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
"In my opinion, and that of many others, his blog is one of the best. And in terms of satirical or parodic wine blogs, it has no peer. Ron’s alert eye catches every pretense and skewers it with laugh out loud mercilessness."
"This site should carry a warning label. It's sort of a Dave Barry/George Carlin approach to wine. The Hosemaster (real name Ron Washam) skewers fellow bloggers and industry savants with glee, while offering hilarious wine guides such as his Honest Guide to Grapes..."
--Paul Gregutt, Seattle Times
"Washam is a skilled wine judge (I have judged with him) who is willing to judge wine double blind, in public. To my knowledge, Parker does not do this and never has. So Ron's credentials are in place, and so is his sense of the absurd."
--Dan Berger, VintageExperiences
"...I consider Ron a very talented writer and I’ve long been an admirer of his scathing wit..."
"And if any free sites think they can conquer the world, there’s always the Hosemaster to take ‘em down a notch."
--Tyler Colman "Dr. Vino"
"Those of you who know Ron either love or hate him, because he throws jabs like a punch drunk boxer, and we’re all in the firing line. He’ll throw them if he hates you, and he’ll throw them if he loves you. He’s a satirist of exceptional quality."
--Jo Diaz "Juicy Tales by Jo Diaz"
"I must say you are an idiot. I've never liked you. I have no idea why people find you funny."