“Satire dramatizes better than any other use of it, the inherent contradiction of free speech that it functions best when what is being said is at its most outrageous”--Tony Hendra
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Le Petomane of Wine
I asked a friend at a small winery to allow me to read a typical note from a wine blogger asking for samples. He receives several solicitations every month, even more right before Christmas. Here is the letter he gave me.
To Whom It May Concern,
I know that it's going to be a little hard for you to believe that you're actually hearing from me. No one ever expected Ed McMahon to send them a letter from Publisher's Clearing House either. And few women ever expected to get to sleep with Warren Beatty, though none of the thousands who did complained, even if they did have to put Vaseline in their eyes to make him look younger. It's just not every day you have contact with a celebrity. But I assure you it's true. I really am contacting you for samples of your wonderful wines. I know how much excitement this will cause you, and I certainly know that what's running through your mind now is the amount of sales a review from my wine blog, LePetomaneofWine, will generate, but I urge you to calm down, take a deep breath, good, now think about hiring some extra help for your shipping department before the surge.
As you undoubtedly have heard from other winery owners in your appellation, wine blogs are now the most important source for reviews and sales. Sure, once upon a time it was the media, but those days are long past. Wine lovers have caught on to the fact that 40% of the wineries Parker critiques are fictional, not to mention 100% of the numbers. And, of course, Parker is dead and his recent reviews were generated randomly by machines formerly used for tabulating Florida elections. Wine Spectator only makes money giving restaurants awards for their fictional wine lists in much the same manner every kid on the soccer team gets a trophy no matter how spastic they are. No one believes Wine Spectator numbers any more, anyway--not when you've got professional wine bloggers reviewing the very same crap! Do I even have to mention Wine and Spirits Magazine? Have their reviews ever sold wine? Have you ever met anybody, anywhere who subscribes to Wine and Spirits? If your leg had their circulation you'd have to have it amputated. No, my friend, more and more the wine buying public is turning to wine blogs, and my blog, in particular, for their wine buying advice. But you already knew this, and that's why your hand is shaking right now, as you read this, knowing that this is your chance. I know, I know, it's hard for me to believe too.
Mind you, I didn't ask for this sort of power and responsibility. I began my wine blog six months ago on a whim. Well, to be honest, so many people have urged me to write about wine, so many of my friends and family turn to me for wine advice knowing that I've learned a lot in the past six years I've been an avid wine drinker, I only felt it was fair to let everyone in on my expertise. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. It saves them time and money. Honestly, we should apply the same logic to the Health Care Debate. Next time you need surgery, get it from a second year medical student--hell, they know plenty, certainly more than you, what could go wrong? See what I mean? Training and knowledge are vastly overrated. It's opinions that matter. Best of all, it's guaranteed positive opinions that matter! And, here's a bonus, on the off chance that I don't like your wine you can always say I wasn't really qualified to judge it--try saying that about Sunset Magazine! OK, bad example.
You may be wondering just what kind of audience, and how large an audience, my blog, LePetomaneofWine, attracts. Since I began my blog six months ago my numbers have increased tenfold from just my parents reading it! And if you look at my Facebook page you'll see that I have more than 300 friends, many of them part of the local prison population. I am a prolific user of Twitter, and after I taste your wine samples you will see the Twittersphere come alive with comments I post like, "Want a great Syrah tonight, check out my blog!" Wait! What was that noise? Oh, sorry, it's the sound of cash registers ringing--always happens when I Tweet. And what does all this cost you? The price of two bottles of each of your wines (one to review, one to sell on Craigslist) and shipping! I know, it seems too good to be true.
You must know that ignoring wine blogs is foolish. Everyone in the wine business knows this by now. Read any wine blog! It's right there in print--wine blogs are the most influential force in the wine business today. It's on the Internet, and you can't say it on the Internet if it's not true. Except on Facebook, which is all about lying. Why waste your time courting critics, risking the chance that someone will detect the many flaws in your wine? I'm not going to notice. The only flaw I notice in any wine is the price tag. Why waste all that time and money traveling to wine shops? They have no influence! Wine shops are just like gas stations, people go there to fill up, not get advice on how to drive! One mention on my blog and those wine shop buyers will be phoning you begging for wine! Don't be the one winery left behind by the Social Media revolution! And don't settle for any second-rate wine blogs either. OK, they're all second-rate, don't settle for any third-rate wine blogs.
I eagerly anticipate your case of samples. Please note that I do not guarantee I will review your wines on LePetomaneofWine. But you can trust that I will drink them.
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."