When I first began wine blogging in 1978 the landscape of wine was totally different. Hell, the landscape of my forehead was totally different. Wine blogging was more civilized then, and far less crowded. I think there were only two wine blogs--mine and Walter Cronkite's. (Whatever happened to him?) Al Gore had called me to tell me he'd invented the Internet (I suggested the name "Internet," by the way; Al wanted to call it the Tippernet) and I recognized right away that it would become a powerful force in the wine business and so I began HoseMaster of Wine soon thereafter. Now here we are, thirty years later, and I'm still cranking out the wine wisdom, though I'm occasionally drowned out by the thousands and thousands of muttonheads who have started their own wine blogs. However, in their defense, I will say that wine blogs represent some of the finest examples of typing the wine world has ever seen!
As the end of the year approaches, I thought it might be fun to reproduce some excerpts from my early HoseMaster of Wine posts. I think they still hold up.
This was one of my earliest "What's the HoseMaster Drinking?" posts. Callaway 1977 Chardonnay Temecula
Many of you haven't had a lot of Chardonnay, but put down those glasses of Wente Blanc de Blancs and your Grey Riesling, get off your butts, head down to the fine wine section of Trader Joe's (no finer wine shop in the land!) and pick up a bottle of Callaway '77 Chardonnay! This is astonishing wine, and ranks right up there with the best Chardonnays from anywhere in the world, including the best Chardonnay in the world, Jadot Pouilly-Fuisse! Don't just take my word for it. President Carter is serving the Callaway Chardonnay at a State Dinner next week because it is the perfect wine with crow. I've also been told by the winery that Jim Jones has ordered ten cases for a "special" punch he's going to serve his followers in Guyana. No doubt it will knock 'em dead. Let me be the first to say that one day Temecula will be hailed as one of the world's greatest wine growing regions, right up there with Beaujolais!
Disclaimer: Though I liked the wine, I encouraged Mr. Callaway to get out of the wine business and pursue something more profitable, like golf clubs. I think he was teed off.
And here's a brief little post where I made a recommendation about wine reviewing:
I'm a little tired of reading wine reviews that are simply a bunch of words strung together. How in the world can I tell what the reviewer thinks of the wine when all I have to go by is a bunch of adjectives? And when he's reviewed a bunch of different wines, I'm talking to you Robert Lawrence Balzer, how am I supposed to know which Gallo bottling he likes best? This is confusing for me, and I'm an expert (I just received my HMW), what's it like for the consumer?
I think I have a solution. Why not give numbers to the wines? A score. You know, like you got on spelling tests when you were a kid. Why even bother with descriptions? Who cares what you think it tastes like? Who are you? Robert Finigan? Tell me how many points you think it's worth. Let's just say, for the sake of argument, that we use a 100 point scale. The worst wine you've ever tasted gets 100 points. So a perfect wine would get a Zero. (No Zeroes on my watch, especially on Pearl Harbor Day.) I think this makes perfect sense, and one day everyone will use this scale to rate wines.
For example, the Callaway 1977 Chardonnay I'd give 11 points! See? Makes sense, doesn't it?
I almost got it right. Then some damned lawyer in Maryland stole my idea, which is the risk you take when you are brilliant and have a wine blog, reversed it just to make it look like it was his idea, and the rest, well, you know the rest.
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."