Wednesday, February 17, 2010
My Napa Valley Wine Writers Symposium Speech
I spoke at the Napa Valley Wine Writers Symposium yesterday right after Eric Asimov and before the Dean of Wine Writers, Dean O'Weinrighters. I am unaccustomed to public speaking so I spoke on condition of anonymity, a condition I've suffered from ever since I started HoseMaster of Wine. I received a warm round of applause from the distinguished group of writers, bloggers and Trekkies in attendance, though it was hard to tell the Trekkies from the bloggers, except that the Trekkies were better dressed. I'm not sure why the Trekkies were there--maybe Alder Yarrow had posted about the event on Facebook.
Here are some excerpts from my enthusiastically received speech.
"Four score and seven years ago our Forefathers brought forth upon the incontinent a new nation, Prohibition, conceived in sobriety and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created evil. Had we listened to our forefathers we wouldn't need a Wine Writers Symposium, we wouldn't need a Napa Valley, we wouldn't need to get up at four AM and urinate. Prohibition set the wine industry of the United States back a hundred years, and, now, wine writers and fellow bloggers, we have successfully managed to do the same."
"When writing about wine I have found it useful to simply use the same words over and over. Find yourself some words you like and just rearrange them cleverly every time you review a wine sample. The words don't really matter just so long as they're descriptive and relatively vague. For example, words like 'hedonistic.' When it comes to wine, it doesn't really mean anything, so it's safe and indisputable. And one of the things that is most important to being a successful wine writer is the misuse of language for the purpose of further mystifying people who want to understand wine. 'Hedonistic' means to be self-gratifying in the pursuit of pleasure. A wine can't be hedonistic, it can't pursue pleasure, but that's the point! It sounds like you're wise and literate and have an interesting palate. There are many words like this you can use. Try to think of words that generally describe people, maybe even wine writers in general. 'Unctuous' comes to mind, but then, it would, I'm looking at 1WineDude. How about 'brooding,' 'seductive,' 'lugubrious,' 'fulsome,' prevaricative?' Wines can be all of those things, right? Apply these words generously and often in your wine reviews and soon you'll be receiving wine samples by the dozens, and perhaps an even more meaningful gift. A dictionary."
"As I gaze around the room I see many of our foremost wine bloggers. I applaud you for your hard work and humility. As I peruse the wine blogosphere I see so much that is good and right about wine blogs. You are the saviors of our friends here in Napa Valley, our friends producing expensive Cabernet Sauvignon, as you are the saviors of wine from all over the world. Your posts have propelled wine sales in these difficult economic times to heights unimaginable without you and your reviews and your points. Because, God knows, if you want to reach the people who can afford $150 bottles of wine, if you want to reach the people for whom the Recession only means their hairline, if you want to access their deep pockets, what better way than a wine blog or Facebook or Twitter? That's all these rich folks do! They don't have to work; they just sit at their laptops and chat on Facebook, and read wine blogs, and Tweet. And when a Friend, an amazing Facebook Friend, a Friend one can genuinely trust, recommends a wine to one of them, well, it doesn't take a genius to see that a sale has just been made. Chalk up another grateful winery! Social Media is here to stay. It has and will continue to save our precious wine business. It's so obvious."
"Most of all, wine writers and bloggers, continue your faithful pursuit of mediocrity. Resist the urge to say something interesting or unique. Find the good in every wine, every free sample; resist the urge to be critical, to bite the hand that strokes you. Continue to give yourselves awards, though mediocrity is its own reward, because awards have no meaning, and having no meaning is the very purpose of what we do. Announce yourself as a wine writer with pride! You are a dying breed, the last of what was once a proud profession, an elite few now diluted down to the cacophonous, ignorant many, thoughtful and educated experts now drowning in the great septic tank that is the Internet. Your days are numbered, your newspapers are dying, your magazines are tired and hypocritical and in the last stages of rigor mortis, your voices are no longer relevant--but you endure! You have Symposia! You start your own blog! You can, once again, Be Somebody!"
Exit to thunderous standing ovation...