When you're a dick your head's the most sensitive part, and mine had been taking a beating ever since I'd started working on this case. I'd developed a ringing in my ears and it seemed like I'd developed double vision. Turned out it was just Veronica. She was standing at my office door just oozing sex. Great. Bad enough I had blood stains on my carpet. I hadn't seen cleavage like that since Robert Parker had been my plumber, a job he was good at. He'd snaked my toilet and replaced my old scale with a hundred point one. I'd seen more crack than a Nick Nolte Oscar party. I wonder whatever happened to that old sink jockey.
I had to shake the cobwebs from my head before I could talk to Veronica. I really needed to dust my office once in a while. I'd just hung up the phone with Avril Cadavril, who wanted me to return to the morgue. She could wait. Veronica was my client, and, aside from that, I couldn't take my eyes off her. She was breathtaking, like sticking your head into a fermenting tank of sauvignon blanc. I so badly wanted to be the sugar to her yeast. But I'd already been converted to alcohol.
Veronica was staring down at the blood stain that Larry Anosmia, M.S. had left on my carpet. "What's this? Is that blood? Or did you dump Turley Zin on your carpet?"
"No, that's blood. But I did use the Turley to stain my Haynes." My head trauma was worse than I thought. "What is all this about Veronica? You hired me to just get you into the M.S. exam. Now two girls are dead, I'm a suspect in one of the cases, I've had my prostate examined without my consent, and somebody just got shot in my office. It's like I'm attending the Wine Bloggers Conference. Only they've all passed their prostate exams and become Certified Assholes. What's going on, Veronica? It's time you started telling me the truth."
"It's pretty complicated, HoseMaster, and the more I tell you the more dangerous it gets for you. This is much bigger than this cheap little jug-wine town of yours."
"Yeah, I know, take me to your liter." "What my friends and I are on to is a threat to the very existence of the wine business, the kind of conspiracy that may end wine as we know it. But we've been unable to infiltrate the inner sanctum of the conspiracy, the very chambers where this horrible plot was hatched. But, believe me, HoseMaster, if you can't get me into that M.S. interview, if I can't get in front of those bastards and wave my bodacious Titratable Acidity-Titratable Acidities to pass their idiotic exams, the evil that is the M.S. program will fatally infect the wine business like the H1N1 Virus in a room full of asthmatics. These are evil people, HoseMaster, and they'll stop at nothing to accomplish their ultimate goal."
Veronica's chest was heaving with her excitement and anger. Her green eyes were ablaze; her passion had given her entire body a glow. I'd never seen a more beautiful woman, or a more dangerous one. And I'd met Karen MacNeil in a dark alley with a bottle of Fife.
"Veronica, my Gorgeous Girl, I'm not afraid of anybody with an M.S. It's just an imaginary title, like Certified Wine Educator, or Ph.D's that call themselves 'Doctor,' or Biggest Loser, which encompasses both. And it's going to be easier if you tell me what you know, if you trust me so that I can help you. I feel like I'm completely in the dark, uninformed, clueless, like I'm a wine judge at the California State Fair. And I'm a little tired of getting hit in the head every time I see a midget. Tell me what you know, Doll, or I'm done with this whole affair."
Tears were forming in Veronica's eyes, like she'd been pulling her own nose hairs. Sure, I was being rough on her, a woman who'd just recently seen two of her sisters murdered, but that's how I swing. I'd been thrown suddenly into a sinister conspiracy that had nothing to do with me any longer. I'd quit the wine business, used my old tastevin for an ashtray, sick of the hypocrites and sleazebags that append letters to the ends of their names like they're penile enhancements, and now Veronica had suckered me back into it. I didn't feel any obligation to help her, though I wouldn't mind riding my Sterling tram all the way up to her wine cave. But I wasn't about to risk my worthless life to help foil a conspiracy I wasn't even sure existed.
"OK, HoseMaster, I guess I have to trust you. What I'm going to tell you will sound crazy, unbelievable, but I swear it's all true."
And then the lights went out and we were pitched into total blackness.
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."
"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
"...that guy Hosemaster has real talent...if you ask me sign him up for Comedy Central...he's the funniest guy since Adam Carolla's hilarious book...IN 50 YEARS WE WILL ALL BE CHICKS..."
"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."