Ladies and Gentlemen, this may come as a shock to you, but the people in tasting rooms are often paid to lie to you. Like Fox News anchors, only not as well-coiffed. (Fox News has more dicks in it than Amy Winehouse on a bender.) So, as a public service, your HoseMaster of Wine is here to reveal common tasting room fibs. I'm like that tubby loser on Fox who reveals the "secrets of magic," only I look way better in a mask. I have a face for Wine Blogging.
Lie #1--"We're basically organic, only we don't want to deal with the paperwork to get certified."
This is basically like saying, "I swear to God, Babe, I basically had a vasectomy, I just didn't want to deal with the surgery." Believe it and you're sure to be screwed. Now, I'm not saying that organically grown grapes are better than grapes grown the old fashioned way, with enough pesticides and herbicides and fungicides to fill the Exxon Valdez, just don't lie about it if your vineyards aren't actually organic. Step up to the plate, tell the truth! "We aren't certified organic because we like our HazMat suits--they're cool, like the astronauts in '2001:A Space Odyssey.' And, hell, those people actually claiming to be organic, they're not so great. They build gigantic goddam mansions on their property, fly around in private jets, exploit illegal immigrants and, worst of all, ignore the plight of polar bears." If a tasting room flunky tells you the "basically certified organic" lie, finish what you're tasting, pour the dump bucket down their shorts, and tell them you love the Pinot stains on their pants.
Lie #2--"This is going to be a great wine in about five years."
So now you're so desperate and confused you're taking the advice of a guy making twelve bucks an hour pouring crap so tannic Joan Rivers could use it to remove her cadaverous smile. Joan in the early stages of rigor mortis Perfect. I've got a brand new 2010 Chrysler I can sell you for a song. How about a can of Pepsi complete with original singed hairs from Michael Jackson? OK, they're Clarence Thomas' pubes, but they're hard to tell apart. The hairs I mean. Want to buy a New Jersey rabbi? Just how much of a rube are you? This tasting room lie is a classic, and if you stood around the tasting room long enough you'd hear it uttered about every single wine in the place. It's usually a response to a customer who doesn't like the taste of one of their expensive wines, an attempt to convince you you're an idiot when it comes to judging great wines, and, that tasting room lackeys have vast experience with aged wines. The classic response is one I heard 25 years ago from an old man in the old St. Francis tasting room when the cutie pie behind the counter fed him this line about their mediocre Cabernet Sauvignon, "Honey, I'm so old I don't even buy green bananas." If you're not elderly, just borrow a pen and paper, write, "How the fuck would you know?" on the piece of paper, fold it into a tiny square, and then press it into the tasting room dweeb's palm on your way out as though it were a tip.
Lie #3--"This is a special wine from our library."
There are times when this could be true, but if the "special" wine is only a few vintages old, guess what, it's crap they couldn't sell then and they want to sell you now. It's the winery equivalent of the bargain bin at your local store, only the price is higher not marked down. Hmm, that makes sense. It used to be $20/bottle, but now it's $30. It must be good! Well, how many other wineries have aged wines for sale in their tasting rooms? Hell, only all the other ones that make crappy wine. But you know what, it's worth trying a bottle, it will probably be really good in about five years.
Lie #4--"Our winemaker doesn't really like the taste of new oak."
Yeah, God knows most winemakers hate new oak. And, of course, reviewers certainly don't like new oak either. That's why Kistler is so reviled. So you have to wonder why anyone in their right mind would buy new barrels every single year. It's madness, I tell you. Barrels don't wear out. No, it's not that we don't have the money to buy new barrels. I'm telling you we just don't like the taste that new barrels impart to our Pinot Noirs. Really. I mean, some people like their food nice and fresh, we like frozen. Is there a difference in quality? Ours tastes more like fruit, fresh from your moldy basement.
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."
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--San Francisco Chronicle
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--Paul Gregutt, Seattle Times
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