I am often asked by wine novices who are heading to wine country for the first time how to know which wines to buy in tasting rooms. Naturally, since I always toe the line when it comes to wine rhetoric, I tell them to buy the wines that taste good to them or received a 94 in Wine Enthusiast, never ones that qualify on both counts. But I also give them a list of what to watch out for when they are in tasting rooms. Signs that knowledgeable wine buyers look out for when deciding where and what to purchase. I thought I should share those insights with my beloved HoseMaster of Wine readers. Both of you.
1. Never buy wine in a tasting room if the hospitality person isn't wearing pants. It's fine if their pants are around their ankles. There's probably just a blogger behind the bar looking for a free tasting. Of course, that is the free tasting.
2. Never buy wine if there are goldfish in the spit bucket. The pets, not the crackers.
3. Never buy wine at a winery that is attached to a rope.
4. Never buy wine in a tasting room that has a life-size cutout of Tom Cruise. Just step over it and leave.
5. Never buy wine if the person serving the wines is wearing a shirt that says, "Will Work for Rohipnol."
6. Never buy wine if the winery dog is licking the tasting room staff's butts.
7. Never buy wine if the person serving it can't pronounce the name of the wine properly. "Our white Meritage is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sommelier."
8. Never buy wine at a winery if the only things edible for sale in the tasting room are panties and cheese made from cat milk. Cat brie is fine but can cause furballs in certain consumers.
9. Never buy wine at a tasting room where the handicapped bathroom has soft music, candlelight and a glory hole.
10. Never buy wine at a winery where the logo wine glasses are emblazoned with women whose breasts are bared when a cold Rose' is poured into them. You're at Armida.
11. Never buy wine if the tasting room staff is speaking in pig Latin.
12. Never buy wine at a winery where all the cars in the parking lot have "For Sale" signs on them. You're probably not at a tasting room, you're at an old Chrysler dealership. You're drunk.
13. Never buy wine at a winery where they ask you to not to spit but to spew it out your nose. Then retaste it.
14. Never buy wine at a winery if the tasting room staff greets you with a French kiss. This happens a lot in Mendocino. The contact high clouds your judgment.
15. Never buy wine if the person serving you has a name tag that reads, "Jesus Christ."
16. Never buy wine if the tasting room only offers a discount if you can make them cry by singing "O Danny Boy."
17. Never buy a wine from a tasting room that only accepts a NAMBLA card as ID. Unless you have one.
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."