Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wine Blogs and the Rose Parade

I'm seriously suffering from a nasty case of Holiday Hangover. I am so glad that the Holidays are over, the relentless thrum of Christmas and the false cheer of New Year's Eve. I'm starting to think Dick Clark is the perfect host for a New Year's Eve party. Aside from the fact that he gives new meaning to the phrase "stroke of midnight," that partial paralysis is exactly what I feel after all the celebrations, insipid Top Ten lists and obituary recaps. Just the thought of doing HoseMaster of Wine for another 12 months makes me nauseous, like I've just digested another post at Dr. Vino without proper sedation. Much of the discomfort I'm feeling is just post-Holiday melancholy. I wonder why I bother to continue writing my corrosive and largely ignored blog. What is it that drives me to sit down in front of a blank computer screen and try to come up with something halfway original several times a week? Why don't I just give in and be like most bloggers? Recycle winery press announcements like a brainless tool, review wines no one cares about in the least except the marketing cannibals that sent the free samples, spend most of my time commenting on other blogs in the vain hope that their readers will check out my blog and find out how fascinating and insightful my borrowed opinions are? (Give it up Nectarwine, your comments, like your blog, leave one yearning for less.) Why write original material when there's a world of pre-fab wine ideas to pretend are my own? Pride? Nah. You can't be the HoseMaster and have any kind of pride.

There is a constant drumbeat of criticism of California wines that goes, "California wines are too sweet and fruity while European wines are just right, and better with food." I won't debate that here. But my opinion is that if anything is too sweet, too sickeningly cloying, too much like saccharine, it's the vast majority of wine blogs. Ugh, they're sweeter than an episode of "Barney," and less articulate. I wonder if French wine blogs are as noticeably sweet, so incredibly simple. Perhaps I don't have an American wine blog palate, but taking in seven or eight of these blogs every day is certain to leave you in a diabetic coma that would make Aretha Franklin jealous. The complaint against sugar is that it leaves your senses dull, deadens the palate. Well, suck on a dozen wine blogs and try not to end up like Ariel Sharon. You might as well treat your senses to endless repeats of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show"--you know Ellen, right, the flat-chested Mike Douglas? Wine blogs are filled with sweetness, way past the threshold of human endurance. Reading wine blogs is like watching the goddam Rose Parade--a succession of giant, lavishly decorated, self-important, artificially sweet, slow-moving creations that vanish from your memory the minute they turn onto Colorado Boulevard. Luckily.

Is it that new wine bloggers, eager to be read, be successful, emulate the most successful wine blogs and that's why most of them are about as entertaining as celery? Try this some time, read them aloud, see if they sound interesting then, or if they don't sound more like infomercials for stuff that is but days away from being landfill. Really, try this. Do it in your best voice, try it with a comic edge, hitting the punch lines with emphasis, selling the verbiage in your most professional reading voice. They are woefully dull, as if you're attending a reading of Henry James in Esperanto. Drives me nuts. And then a new blog appears and it's the same thing, only now it's Henry James in Navajo.

And, of course, now it's all about video podcasts, a la Gary Vaynerchuk. I don't know Gary Vaynerchuk, I've only viewed one or two of his podcasts, but the guy has singlehandedly put a stink on the whole wine business with his idiotic behavior, rudeness, insipid wine descriptions and all-star tribute to Mammon. But he's successful! Like Howard Stern and the guys who make Jackass movies! So let's give him awards, Wine Enthusiast! Glorify this kind of behavior! Why, it's bringing the masses to wine, educating them so that they can go out and know how to behave when it comes to tasting wine! And, hell, maybe if we hitch our minor league magazine to his star we can grab some of his audience! Dignity apparently died with Robert Mondavi.

But at least Gary has some presence, albeit obnoxious, on camera. All the newer wine video blogs, well, let's just say most of them validate why the United States doesn't allow prison executions to be televised. Watching people taste wine and then extemporize about it is about as interesting as listening to someone do a crossword puzzle. "Oh, what's a four letter word for what my opinion's worth? Starts with an 'S' and ends with a 'T.'" I do love the cheap sets however. Always makes me feel like I'm right there with them in the motel where they're hiding from the personality police.

Well, like I said, I guess the Holidays put me in a bad mood. Sorry. Forget what I just said. It's the morphine talking.


Samantha Dugan said...

I just read this aloud using my very best Daffy Duck voice...I think you sounded kinda sweet.

Hey, wanna make a podcast?

Jeff said...

I love the amount of bile you just spit out. Spiteful!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

Well, I think I sound better as Sylvester, but I'll go with your choice. "Sufferin' Succotash"

I adore you!

Hey Jeff,

That was just the surface bile. I've got bile reserves that would make Charlie Sheen's liver jealous.

Actually, I was trying to be nice.

El Jefe said...

"Oh the weather outside is spiteful, but the bile is so delightful..."

I'm sorry. I don't know where that came from.

Ron Washam said...

El Jefe,

Very nice! Even got a laugh from the ol' HoseMaster!

I was thinking

"Bile, though your heart is aching/Bile, even though it's breaking/When there are jerks writing blogs/Hump your dogs..."

Yours was better.

K.Mahoney said...

I think you come in at a low 17 Brix on my scale.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey K. Baby,

Yup, I've often been told I'm several Brix short of a Lodi.

Anonymous said...

I have nothing witty to say, I'm just sitting here at my desk, laughing out loud. LOL.

Thomas said...

Good grief! And they call me an opinionated grouch.

Ron, where do you cop your bile? I need a new pusher.

We should comment on each other's blog; that way, we will each gain a reader, and I'll rack up as many as ten.

Andrew Ross said...

Vaynerchuk is legit. Millionaire at 32, traveling the world, living his passion. Brilliant businessman too. Watch his Omaha keynote on You might have more in common with him than you think. Two podcasts out of 750+ isn't quite fair, is it Mr. Hosemaster? All the best, Andrew

Ron Washam said...

Hey Thomas,

I just might do that, though I suspect your blog doesn't really need a grouch.


I decided many months ago that the whole blog world takes potshots at Parker and Wine Spectator and the like, why shouldn't the "top" bloggers take a little heat? It's only satire. Gary V doesn't know I'm alive, doesn't care, is laughing all the way to the bank. But I still think his brand of wine "expertise" puts a stink on the rest of us.

My advice to everyone--don't take anything I say seriously. I know I don't.

Charlie Olken said...

<< My advice to everyone--don't take anything I say seriously. I know I don't. >>

Good satire is very serious business. If not, it is not satire.

Now, I am not opposed generally to slapstick, but the HM ain't doing slapstick. He is doing satire. And I hope I don't get a pie in the face for saying so.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Puff Daddy,

Satire is indeed serious business, which is why I avoid it. I always think of satire as more polished, perhaps more clever, certainly more insightful about the human spirit, or lack thereof, than my little untidy corner of the Internet--I think Swift and Twain and Perelman and Alfred E. Neuman. I'm just a joke writer. And few comedy writers are fed as much fodder as one who writes about wine blogs. Every day is fodder's day.

Charlie Olken said...

You are too modest. What you do here combines many forms of the comic spirit, and it certainly contains brilliant satire at times.

The fact that it picks on folks in sarcastic ways does not make your writing into joke-telling plonk. But, if you insist on being modest, humble, introverted, afraid of your own shadow, well, so be it.

The rest of us will still be here laughing.