“For something to be funny, the audience has to be in a position to sense the truth of it. It has to be primed. Satire can crystallize what’s already in the air, but it can’t really put it there.”--Garry Trudeau
Monday, November 9, 2009
The HoseMaster Scale
I am guilty of complaining about rating wine on the 100 point scale, but I do recognize the usefulness of the rating system. The folks of the Religious Right rant and rave about the erosion of the moral fiber of this country, but often get caught recognizing the usefulness of adultery and prostitutes. Same thing. But I feel guilty that I only complain about the 100 point scale and don't present a better alternative. I believe I have solved that problem, and without the use of prostitutes (sadly, unlike countless stupid wineries, hookers do not provide free samples for bloggers).
Aside from the philosophical complaint that assigning a number to a wine is giving an objective value to a subjective opinion, which I am willing to disregard because philosophy is even stupider than wine reviews, I have always hated the fact that in the course of a year a publication like Wine Spectator assigns hundreds and hundreds of wines, say, 89 points. Nothing wrong with 89 points. Like most of you, I really enjoy kissing my sister, though it's annoying when Mom tries to break us up with cold water. But can it really be true that their critics liked those hundreds of wines exactly the same? That there is absolutely (and numbers are absolutes) no qualitative difference between all of them? That the $150, 89 point Cabernet from Silver Oak is exactly the same quality as the 89 point, $20 bottle of Penfold's 10W/40? If it is, that's fine. But it is hard to swallow. (OK, so we're back to the hookers again.)
So it occurred to me that the problem isn't assigning numbers to wine, the problem is we're not using enough numbers! 100 points is peanuts in this runaway inflationary era. To reduce the scale to 10 points, like that potted plant Alder Yarrow, is exactly wrong. Parker has said that he modeled it after the scale we are all familiar with from our days in school. Isn't that a telling remark? We're all just a bunch of half-wit students sitting at the knee of an oh-so-wise wine critic, taking copious notes, and trying to imagine what it's like to be so smart! To be able to grade wines so quickly and accurately. How will we ever graduate and become teachers too?! So the 100 point scale isn't only wrongheaded, it's insulting. But, in my view, not insulting enough.
I have created the HoseMaster Scale of 1,000,000 Points! That's right, the Million Point Scale. And here is the best feature of my Million Point Scale--no two wines will ever receive the same score! And, here's another unique feature, my Million Point Scale starts at 1! That's right. I have had a wine that scored 7 on the Million Point Scale--I believe it was a Nichelini Zinfandel, but I'd have to look it up. And it's impossible for me, or any critic, to rate a million wines, so each wine will have its own unique number! Readers will know exactly where each wine falls with respect to every other wine I've scored. So, if I'd used the HoseMaster Scale on the wines I've previous reviewed on my outrageously popular "What's the HoseMaster Drinking?" segments and scored, say, the Benovia Pinot Noir 356,875 points (not the actual score) and the Allemand Cornas 356,877 points (again, not the actual score), the reader would know that I liked them about the same, but preferred the Cornas! It's brilliant, and, pay attention here wineries, it's incomparable marketing material. Think of the shelf talkers! "Murphy-Goode 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon--107,452 Points!!!" Even crappy scores sound great. This is the shot in the arm our struggling industry needs.
She's got her own HoseMaster Million Point Scale!
I know it will take time, but I believe that eventually every reputable critic and publication will adopt the HoseMaster Million Point Scale. There's no reason not to. Will there ever be a wine that rates 1,000,000 points? Not on my watch! I hereby swear on Robert Parker's grave that I will never award a wine more than 995,000 points. A score above that sends the wrong message, I think. Nothing is that close to perfection. I mean, come on, it's a scale, no sense getting carried away.
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.
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
"...With sometimes crude analogies and occasional droppings of f-bombs, Washam cleverly uses satire to expose the underbelly of the wine business. It's often hilarious stuff as long as you're not the one being lampooned. Washam takes no prisoners in skewering all that is silly, stupid, frustrating and pretentious about wine, and his favorite targets are other bloggers and writers. No one is immune."
--Linda Murphy in "Vineyard and Winery Management"
"No one is immune from California sommelier and wine judge Ron Washam's skewering. He polishes that skewer with boundless enthusiasm and acuity." --JancisRobinson.com
"As serious as the world of wine is, it does allow time for humor. Each Monday and Thursday, Ron Washam customarily posts a commentary on his needling wine blog HoseMaster of Wine. Washam, a former sommelier and comedy writer – he might say they are closely related – is the most opinionated, humorous and ribald observer in the wine world. His body of work is irreverent and remorseless. It’s almost always satire and parody, though he occasionally drifts into straight commentary, sometimes even with tasting notes. This past year, one of his posts was named the best of the year in the Wine Blog Awards. His success has spawned several imitations, which in their awkwardness show just how difficult satire is."
--Mike Dunne, Sacramento Bee
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/01/21/6089630/dunne-on-wine-wine-blogs-and-bloggers.html#storylink=cpy
"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
"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."
--Reign of Terroir
Robert (Joseph) was/is funny unlike HoseMaster who wasn't/isn't.