“…any food product that feels compelled to tell you it’s natural in all likelihood is not.”—-Michael Pollan
Friday, January 29, 2010
Notes On a Sellout's Book
Writing HoseMaster of Wine is a lot easier than I make it look. Wine and the business of wine are subjects I've spent my life studying, and the results are clear. I've wasted my life. What I should be writing about, the subject most wine bloggers find endlessly interesting, is myself. And I would, only my life is duller than the finish on a wine from Sterling Vineyards, and my readership is already plummeting off a cliff like a Toyota Camry with its accelerator stuck. (I don't know, why is it that Toyotas suddenly make me nostalgic for kamikazes?) So I won't bore you, all nine of you, with stories of my day, my past, my hopes, my dreams, but I will bore you with a bunch of random thoughts that have been rattling around in my subpar brain.
The recent Gomberg Fredrikson report (isn't a Gomberg made up of frozen gom?) about the California wine industry states that sales of California wine over $15 have nosedived in the past year. Much has been made of this, but, really, isn't the only rational conclusion that people really only drink wine to get drunk? That for all the tortured tasting notes printed in endlessly monotonous wine magazines, for all the "reviews" faithfully posted by the parade of witless wine bloggers (too many to list here, but for the very nadir of witless check out WineHarlots--makes you want to ralph nadir), for all the wine tastings, and food and wine pairings, and pomp and circumstances of the wine trade, all consumers really want is to get drunk. That's the only conclusion that makes sense. They're not drinking less, they're drinking cheaper. So they don't give a crap about numbers or reviews or quality--they need to drink themselves into oblivion. And they don't care where it's from--Argentina, Bulgaria, South Africa, New York, all those places where English is a foreign language--so long as it's cheap and has at least 14% alcohol. All the damn ratings in the world can't sell your $40 Syrah right now--it's a $15 world. 96 point Merlot for $35? Who cares? Trader Joe's has wine for $5.99, and it tastes just fine. Who the hell cares about your wondrous Corvina from a tiny estate in Valpolicella that tastes like sunset at the Algonquin round table (not a pizza restaurant, by the way)? The consumers have loudly and overwhelmingly voted in favor of a cheap drunk. Oh crap, I have to stop reading Tom Wark.
I've always had this theory that wines are more reflective of their winemaker than they are of their terroir. For example, when you meet a typical Australian winemaker you begin to understand why his Shiraz is so loud and forward and high in alcohol. So is he. It's weird how this works. A thoughtful and contemplative winemaker tends to make wines that are subtle and understated and, well, thoughtful, if a wine can be thoughtful. Which it can't. Loud people make loud wines. Fat people make wines that are often overblown. It goes on and on. Just sayin' Oh crap, I have to stop reading Samantha Dugan.
Not that I check it obsessively, like Lady MacBeth washing her hands or Oprah working the panties out of her crack, but I notice my readership is declining. Is that because I'm not compulsive about Twitter or Facebook? Or is it because everyone is tired of my twaddle? Or is it because I suck? Maybe it's because I insult bloggers so often, and the only people who read blogs are other bloggers. Should I start being nice to other bloggers? Hang around other blogs and post fascinating comments? "Gosh, Steve, Wine Enthusiast is so powerful, and your events are so important! Thank you for reminding us." "1WineDude, man, I'll contribute a dollar if you'll just shut up." "Gary V., how does it feel to be the Millennial's Reverend Ike, only way less pretty?" Or should I just quit?
Why is it that wine blogs make me like wine less and not more?
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
"...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.