"Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is."--Francis Bacon
Thursday, March 11, 2010
The HoseMaster's Guide to the Wine Blog Awards
It's just about time for nominations to begin for the Wine Blog Awards. Oh, sorry, I was yawning. Tom Wark created the American Wine Blog Awards several years ago and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, not even free wine samples, not even admiring comments ("Great post, WineMussolini, always nice hangin' with you."), that wine bloggers like more than giving themselves awards. Even when they're imaginary awards, awards that celebrate a field unlikely to exist in five years, a field whose high qualifying standard to enter is owning a computer, a field with more bombs than an average acre in Iraq. There are eight awards, at this point, to be handed out, and it's hard to think of a less prestigious trophy. A Daytime Emmy? Mens Figure Skating Miss Congeniality Award? Sex with Paris Hilton? But the awards will be handed out anyway, the winners decided by the votes of the courageous judges, who are asked to read countless wine blogs, a task with all the appeal of reading the Congressional Record in Esperanto, and, of course, primarily by the votes of the people. So, rather than simply letting the judges decide which wine blogs deserve the awards, the awards will basically be determined by how effectively each nominated wine blogger works Twitter and FaceBook, and by how many readers he has. This nicely eliminates quality and originality from having anything to do with the awards. Yet, despite that, I'm certain that the cream will rise to the top. Or the turds.
The Wine Blog Awards are modeled on all the awards the professional wine media give themselves. In recent months many of these awards were handed out. I'd like to give a tip of the HoseMaster's nozzle to Antonio "Tony" Galloni for winning the Wine Name That's the Most Fun to Say Award, just edging out James Suckling. Congratulations to Steve Heimoff for winning the prestigious Alder Yarrow Most Times Mentioning My Own Importance Award. And I'd be remiss for not mentioning Alice Feiring's well-earned Henry James Award for the Most Words Going Nowhere.
For those of you getting ready to nominate your favorite wine blog, it won't be long now, be patient, I know I'm on the edge of my coma, here's a quick look at the categories and what they aim to reward.
Best Wine Blog Graphics and Presentation: This is the Miss America Pageant. Content be damned, which one looks the purtiest? Nominees will be asked a few questions like, "If you could speak to the terrorists, what would you tell them about freedom?" and "If you could invite any four people, dead or alive, to dinner, what would you serve to the dead ones?" Then they'll parade around in evening gowns and the one with the cutest butt will win. This, at least, is the easiest category to judge. You don't have to read the insipid prose. It's like deciding who to hire for the mortician opening at Forest Lawn. Whoever can make the brain dead look the most lifelike.
Best Industry/Business Wine Blog: The Dork Award. Endlessly fascinating discussions about grape prices, the Three Tier Distribution System, and wine marketing schemes. Wine bloggers giving this award makes about as much sense as The Wall Street Journal Wine Club. I know when I want wine advice, I turn to the Wall Street Journal. And when I want the latest on the hip and trendy nightclubs I watch Al Jazeera. I'm guessing, just a wild guess, that one blog won't win both of these first two awards.
Best Wine Reviews on a Wine Blog: I'm a bit confused about this. Is this an award for who reviews the best wines? Burgundy and First Growth Bordeaux and SuperTuscans and Lodi Zins? Or for who writes the best reviews? And what about pairing the wines with music or haiku or pictures of kitties? How much weight will the judges give to that? What this award comes down to is the Best Impression of Robert Parker Award. Writing about wines in the most convincing killjoy fashion. Taking the amazing joy and sensual pleasure of sharing a wine with a loved one and turning it into the Best of Roget's Thesaurus. Bloggers blather endlessly about just drinking the wines you like, then they spend their time telling you what wines you should like, what those wines taste like down to the very last adjective, and this is clearly admirable. If you're incredibly self-absorbed.
Best Single Subject Wine Blog: OK, wine blogs are about wine. How many subjects is that? If the blog is about spirits, then is it a wine blog? If the blog is about food, is it a wine blog? And as far as I can tell, every blog is about a single subject--the blogger.
Best Winery Blog: I love winery blogs. They're a lot like winery dogs, only more full of crap. This is a category about marketing, not about information or talent. There are some wonderful blogs written by winemakers (take a bow, John Kelly, Randall Grahm), but that's not what this category is for. This category is for validating the usefulness of blogs as marketing tools for wineries. And if wineries use blogs to sell wine, then blogs must have a purpose! Blogs might actually be worth something. OK, wine bloggers, I've got something important to tell you. Wine blogs will be profitable when they learn to sell what TV has been selling us for fifty years--Sex and Death. Those are moneymakers! Anyhow, the Best Winery Blog is the equivalent of advertising's Clio--the most effective use of lying.
Best Writing on a Wine Blog: Now here is an interesting category, and, essentially, it should be the only category. Only who's going to judge it? And who wants to win? With all due respect to the mentally challenged, it's the Gold Medal in the Special Olympics. It's being the fat guy who comes in sixth on "Biggest Loser." It's scoring 300 on the SAT's. It's winning a limbo contest by going under the pole vault bar. It's marrying Larry King. But, and I'm being serious now, if Samantha Dugan doesn't win for Sans Dosage, the judges need to be sent to Gitmo for a lovely spa treatment.
Best New Wine Blog: You're talented, you're interesting, you've got a great voice, you're very well-behaved, now see if you can crank out endless posts for a year and maybe we'll give you an actual award next year.
Best Overall Wine Blog: For those of you new to the blogging game, this is all about being an insider. Which is why the awards exist in the first place. You have to be part of Hollywood to win an Oscar. They ain't giving one to John Waters. So this award has to go to the wine blog that most closely represents what wine blogging is about--volume, volume, volume. What makes WalMart successful? Volume. What makes Costco the wine powerhouse that it is? Volume. What does Celine Dion have that other singers don't? Volume. Quantity not Quality, that's our motto. So if you aspire to win this award, remember, you have choices. You can write well or you can write often, you can spout wisdom or you can spout your inexperienced opinions, you can be original or you can regurgitate what you're fed. If you want to succeed, move up the latter.
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
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"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
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--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."
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"I must say you are an idiot. I've never liked you. I have no idea why people find you funny."