HoseMaster of Wine's Beginning Ethics for Bloggers
Remember when wine blogs used to talk about wine? Wow, those were the good ol' days. Now every time I read wine blogs, roughly as often as Mike Tyson teaches elocution, they're about ethics. You know, Ethics, from the Latin for "how much can I get away with and still seem honest." Ethics are a lot like testicles--you either have them or you don't, you can't grow them, and if you do have them talking about them is hairy.Mike Tyson's ethics, right
However, I believe I can contribute significantly to the Blogger Ethics debate. What I'd really like to do is end it, but, hell, then we'd have to go back to talking about actual wine. And, boy, have I had some crappy wine lately that I'd like to talk about. Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc, holy crap, what is that made from? It tastes like 85% Sauvignon Blanc blended with 15% Visine; though I could be wrong and it's actually Visine Musque. But I digress.
Much of the Blogger Ethics debate seems to revolve around accepting freebies from wineries or wine marketers and then reviewing the wines of those wineries. Those freebies can include free wine, free meals, free housing, sexual favors, a free credit report, a wine being named for you (I just blew my proposed Geyser Peak 2009 "Hosemaster Cuvee" Visine Musque bottling), tickets to sporting events, American Tourister luggage, and penile implants. (OK, I accepted the latter, but was unaware it was for my forehead. Stop calling me the Unicorn of Wine. Oh well, at least it's a handy place to rest my sunglasses.) A lot of respected wine writers have published long treatises on their blogs that spell out what they do and don't accept from wineries, though all of those treatises boil down quickly to, "Na-na-nah-na-na, I get free stuff and you don't... But, I swear to God, it's all on the up and up! Hey, NBA officials accept gifts from players, right?" Of course, the caveat is that so long as you cop to the freebies, that honesty therefore translates to how honest you are about the quality of the wines you tasted on that generous winery's behalf. "OK, I accepted a car from LeBron, but that's not why I never call fouls on him. Honest." No one believes that crap.
So here's my contribution to the Blogger Ethics debate (which is much like debating the integrity of Congress and Special Interest lobbyists, or, perhaps more accurately, like debating which "Star Trek" movie is the best--you know it's all imaginary, but it's fun anyway). Simply follow these very simple HoseMaster of Wine Beginning Ethics for Bloggers. Then one day you too will be as admired and as ethical as your humble HoseMaster of Wine.
Accept anything a gullible winery or wine marketer is willing to give you. You've earned it, dammit, you have 15 Unique Hits on your blog every month. And you didn't print up those lame business cards on your computer for nothing. You're somebody!
Transparency is for Supreme Court nominees, steroid users and panties. Of course you take free stuff from wineries. Just keep it to yourself instead of bragging about it all the time. Yeah, yeah, the UPS guy has a hernia from all the wine shipped to your pathetic wine country hovel, Alder, but I sure as hell don't want to hear about it.
It's only wine, I'm not a freakin' doctor! As far as I'm aware, Hippocrates never wrote an oath for wine critics. So I add a few points to my imaginary and meaningless score, it's not like I prescribed the wrong medicine. Who cares?!
Conflict of interest is a contradiction in terms. My only interest is me. Where's the conflict?
By following these simple guidelines your ethical troubles will be resolved and you can go on blogging about wine as if nothing had happened. And, honestly, nothing has.
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."
"Please let this guy write the scripts for Saturday Night Live which has gotten so lame...his newest "wisdom" is worth an Emmy....I wonder if he is the genius behind all those Hitler/Parker,etc. clips? No one else is remotely as funny or as talented.And the wine world sure needs someone to poke fun at all the nonsense and phoney/baloney unsufferable crap out there."
"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."