"Irreverence is easy--what's hard is wit."--Tom Lehrer
Monday, February 22, 2010
The HoseMaster's Honest Guide to Grapes
Whenever I refer to wine books for information about the many and varied varieties of vitis vinifera I never find anything useful. They tell you where it's most famously grown, they tell you some imaginary aromas that the wine supposedly possesses, they tell you other names for it, but what does that get you? You can't impress your wine ignorant friends with that sort of knowledge. They are so impressed that you have a wine blog, you can't appear clueless! They turn to you for recommendations of the cheap crap that corporate-owned wineries send you for free. (Wow, is William Hill Chardonnay really that good?! It must be, it has Phthalates listed on the label ingredients!) They trust you! They buy all their wines based on your "I can't really be bothered to actually say something useful" 140-character Tweets about the free samples you receive. So now that you're up for an American Wine Blog Award (the equivalent of a Smiley Face on your sixth grade spelling test) it's time you learned a little bit more about the grapes that make the wines we love. Useful stuff this time, not that tired old Jancis Robinson crap.
What are we looking for when we taste a Chardonnay? Me, I'm looking for an excuse not to like it. I'm Simon Cowell and every Chardonnay is a contestant on "American Idol." I'm a Republican and every Chardonnay is a National Health Care plan. I'm Hugh Hefner and every Chardonnay is ah...um, I forget...what was it, um, where's my fucking Viagra? Everyone tries not to like it, but it's still wildly popular. Like airport security.
Interesting Chardonnay facts:
They try to sell the crappy ones by calling them "Burgundian." This is perfectly appropriate as a way to insult the French, who so richly deserve it.
Chardonnay is considered one of the Noble Grapes. This was 19th Century marketing. It's no more noble than French Colombard except that it denies its nationality. I much prefer German Colombard, which nearly destroyed London in WW II.
Chardonnay is particularly suited for seafood. Tuna drink it by the boatload.
Other Names for Chardonnay:
Cougar Juice Kistler Piss White Slavery Beauner Killer
Sauvignon Blanc is only used as cocktail wine because it goes lousy with food. OK, it goes fine with food, but nobody serves it with dinner because it's too cheap. It's also known as Fume Blanc, a name Robert Mondavi made up in order to sell it, which has confused everyone since and is but one of the reasons he is now in Hell with Ernest and Julio and forced to drink Gruner Veltliner. (Which is what they serve by the glass in Hell, unless you want red, in which case it's Pinotage. It used to be Zinfandel but they ripped it out because it's hotter in Lodi.) Were it not for Sauvignon Blanc there would have been no reason to invent the Stelvin.
Interesting Sauvignon Blanc facts:
The best New Zealand versions can remove your pet's carpet accidents.
It is commonly blended with Semillon in order to find something useful to do with stupid Semillon.
Sauvignon Blanc is the major white grape of the Loire Valley. This isn't funny.
Everybody talks about Riesling as a great white wine, but nobody drinks it. So whatever you say about it, how it tastes and smells, doesn't matter, no one's going to drink it anyway. But it comes in a cool bottle and the German ones feature a word puzzle on every label! Riesling often has residual sugar as a trap to try and make Americans like it, but it doesn't work because it doesn't taste sweet really. So how stupid are Riesling producers? Riesling likes to grow where it's cold, so around Andrea Immer's house.
Interesting Riesling facts:
The traditional Riesling bottle is called a "hock" because so many people try to pawn off Rieslings on people.
German Rieslings are categorized according to the sugar levels in the must. The must is like the grape's taint, only sweet. The basic category is Kabinett, which has lower sugar levels and is named for where you store your German wines so nobody sees that you have them. The sweetest sugar level wines are labeled Trocaderobeerandpretzels and often cost more than a Volkswagen Jetta--though they are more dependable.
Rieslings are said to go well with Asian cuisines. Morons say this.
Other names for Riesling:
Aunt Jemima Other White Wines (wine lists) Garglewein Grandma Bait
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."
"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."