Wine Blogs Are the Attention-Barking of Lonely Poodles
Monday, June 29, 2009
My Horrible Confession
I have a terrible confession to make. I hesitate to bring it up, but it's weighing on my conscience. Oh, sure, I've done terrible things before. I once bought a Cabernet that Steve Heimoff had given 96 points and painted my garage with it. And then there was the time I took a monkey to a Napa Valley Barrel Tasting and had everyone convinced it was Harvey Steiman--which really pissed off the monkey. I seduced a mule. But nothing like this. I'm so sorry. Really. OK, here goes... I swear to God this is Harvey. He loves your '05 Cabernet. That IS a banana in my pants.
I spent Father's Day Weekend judging at a wine competition.
I know, I know, it's unforgivable. In wine business terms, it's the ultimate sell-out. Ask any wine blogger and they'll tell you. Don't believe anyone who assigns numbers to wine, don't believe any wine publications, they're all on the take, don't believe the results of wine competitions, they are useless beyond compare. So where should a consumer turn for informed and objective reviews of wines? Wine blogs. Simple as that. Come on, figure it out. No one can sit and judge 100 wines in a single day fairly and accurately. Unless, of course, you go to a large public wine tasting (that you didn't pay for because you're such a famous blogger), take notes, then write about it on your blog with a large list of all the wines you loved, really liked, liked quite a bit, adored, would marry or thought were a bit "shut down." Or perhaps the blogger went on an industry sponsored sojourn to Australia or Chile or Spain, spent several days being shuttled from winery to winery, meal to meal, sipping countless wines and having his voluminous and pimply ass kissed by actual winemakers but still has the astonishing presence of mind to know a great wine when he tastes one. I'm embarrassed to say that beside that sort of objectivity and talent the skills of wine professionals tasting wines blind seem particularly pathetic.
I'm ashamed of myself. I was thinking of suicide but that's too easy. Plus, it's my month to come up with a topic for Wine Blogging Wednesday. I know. How about "Wines You Know Something About?" So as punishment for judging at a wine competition I've decided to do something especially painful and drastic. Watch every episode of WineLibraryTV. (As an aside, I hear that's what happened to Peter Falk.) Maybe that will teach me to not participate in the travesty that is a wine competition.
I call the competition I judged in the "A T & T Wireless Competition" because the judges have been in "more bars in more cities than anyone else." We spent two and a half days tasting through a total of nearly 4400 wines from all over the world. You simply cannot believe how many of the wines are commercially unacceptable. The range of descriptors went from "urinal cake" to "coroner's breath," from "slightly frizzante Old Spice" to "Rush Limbaugh's skid marks." What you often take away from judging at a wine competition is the depth and breadth of crap that's out there. It's breathtaking, and I mean that literally. You sniff more sulfur aromas than a horny poodle. Or Larry King.
No matter what their detractors say, Wine Competitions serve a purpose. And I would venture to say that they are equally as reliable as any wine reviewer, wine publication or blogger. That is to say, not at all.
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."