"Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith."--Christopher Fry
Monday, March 15, 2010
My Dog Eats His Own Blog
I ask myself every time I sit down to write a post, "Why do I blog?" First of all, "blog" is a stupid word. It sounds a lot like regurgitation. Technicolor blog, which is what we do after we drink too much wine. All you have to do is think of all the phrases you use that have the word "puke" in them and then substitute "blog" and it makes sense. "Man, riding those Teacups at Disneyland makes me want to BLOG!" "I ate some nasty seafood at Red Lobster and I BLOGGED all night." "If I spend too much time in a car I just want to pull over and BLOG all over the road." "It's so gross when my dog eats his own BLOG." See? It makes perfect sense. It even gives new meaning to Wine BLOG Awards, a more exact meaning. I may have been wrong in my now famous quote. Perhaps it's that "blogging is the attention barfing of lonely poodles."
But I think all of us stupid and vain enough (how much vain would a vaynerchuk chuck if a vaynerchuck could chuck vain?) to blog wonder why we do it, and why we do it so often. The same questions a pederast asks himself, basically. So I decided to take an anonymous survey, ask as many bloggers as I could find the reasons why they do this thankless, futile, pathetic work we call a wine blog. I think the results are very interesting, and a great subject for a post. It's such a great subject I'm anticipating many, many comments, most of which begin, "Great post, Joe," even though my name isn't Joe, though I guess one could think that "Hose" is Spanish for Joe.
Anyhow, in my brief but very scientific survey, many of the bloggers I asked mentioned the word "community." 40% of them spelled it wrong. But many of them said that the reason they wrote a wine blog was to be part of the larger wine community. Most importantly, the part of the wine community that knows less than they do about wine. So a very small group that would be really hard to find without the power of the Internet. In every day life, many of them said, they only know a handful of people to whom they could speak about wine, maybe four or five. But with the success of their blogs, they now had an average of six or seven visitors every day! Imagine gaining more than two new "friends" just for the ten minutes it takes to write a post. Add to that all the "friends" one can have on Facebook, all the "friends" one can have on Twitter, and, wow, suddenly you have more "Friends" than a nymphomaniac Quaker. (Me, I've never had sex with a Quaker, though I've known a few who spoke in tongues.) Wine blogging, then, is a way to make friends, and, truly, isn't it much easier to make friends when they can't actually see how unattractive you are, and you can delete any of their stupid comments? So "community" makes perfect sense as a reason to blog.
A large number of bloggers I spoke to (And, believe me, one of the greatest days of my life was the day I spent speaking with wine bloggers, why, it was like I was living a dream episode of "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" and I was Jeff Foxworthy. OK, so, you know you're a redneck when you drink wine in the can--rather than reading the newspaper.) simply said that they typed a wine blog because they felt the need to express their opinions about wine, opinions that they hadn't seen expressed elsewhere. Someone has to have the courage to take on the 100 Point Scale! It's stupid! There, I've said it. And what about BioDynamics? That's really stupid. No, wait, that's really green and good for the Earth. I can't say that. All that spiritual crap is all over the place, wineries are falling for it right and left, I'd better move on to another subject. Wait, can I even publish today? Is there a full moon? And what about too much oak! I have a lot to say about too much oak! Why do wineries use too much oak? There, I've said it. Someone had to. And don't forget to come back and read my future posts where I take on issues no one else dares write about--snooty sommeliers, too much oak on Sauvignon Blanc, and why don't wineries realize that wine bloggers are the most important resource they have for selling wine? So my survey seems to indicate that many wine bloggers are motivated by the need to correct the wine industry, to simply say what needs to be said. I stand humbled by their courage. When I'm drinking wine in the can.
Many of the bloggers I spoke with expressed how fed up they were with the traditional wine print publications, those tired old windbags who tell us what wines we should be drinking based solely on their expertise and experience. Expertise and experience, what the hell good are those qualities? Those qualities are vastly overrated. Why I can open a bottle, taste it, and tell you what I think of it. That's way more valuable! I'm just an ordinary schmuck like you are, doesn't my opinion seem more valuable? I'm a published wine blogger. I know about wine, and you can trust me. You know you can't trust Wine Spectator or Wine Enthusiast or Wine and Spirits--they take advertising. OK, sure, I have a couple of ads on my blog, and I'm really trying to monetize it, but that's different. I have standards. I only review wines I've been sent for free. I don't bring anger to my evaluation, anger at having paid fifty bucks for an overoaked bottle of Cabernet. Instead, I can give it a positive review and get even more wine sent to me. This is integrity you can count on.
These seemed to be the major reasons that people blog. I think my little, but very accurate and scientific, survey has answered a lot of questions about why we maintain wine blogs. What I haven't figured out is why anyone reads 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."