So HoseMaster of Wine has been nominated in the Best Writing on a Wine Blog category for a Wine Blog Award. Honestly, I’m surprised. I have about as much chance of winning as Wile E. Coyote, but, nevertheless, it’s interesting.
What I do here is something of a high-wire act. It was always my intention to bring some laughter and satire to the wine business. You can all be the judge of whether or not I’ve succeeded. Poking pompous people in the eye is a time-honored tradition of satire, and they don’t tend to like it. I do try to choose my targets carefully. It wasn’t always so. In my early days I occasionally picked on some poor souls who were writing wine blogs with very little, or no, appreciable talent. Many of them are still blogging. I’m sure their mothers are proud. And countless others have joined them. It’s a very large recessive gene pool. I set out to just have fun with the whole damned wine business. I have many admirers but far more detractors. I think writing HoseMaster of Wine has actually devalued my status in the business. Telling the truth has a way of doing that. Which says more about the business than it does about my talent, or glaring lack thereof.
My problems with the Wine Blog Awards are many. I think, first and foremost, that the nomination process is fatally flawed. I don’t have a problem with how many genuinely worthless blogs were nominated in the first round, most, one would assume, self-nominated or nominated by family and friends. That’s the judges’ problem. But it’s discouraging to me that many of the best wine blogs out there never even made it to the first round. How is winning a Wine Blog Award really meaningful if Steve Heimoff, Tom Wark (he may have recused himself, I don’t know), Dr. Vino, Samantha Sans Dosage, not to mention Jon Bonné and Eric Asimov and Charlie Olken (we can argue whether genuine pros should be included, but they are technically eligible) aren’t included? It’s like winning an Oscar against the cast of “John Carter.” I know that none of them care that they weren’t nominated. They shouldn’t care, their talents and voices speak wonderfully for themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I am genuinely honored to be listed on the same page as Randall Grahm, and if I lose by one vote it’s because I voted for him. But the absence of many of the genuinely talented people who slog away for free and actually contribute to the never-ending conversation about wine speaks volumes about the process.
I will say, though, that I’m happy that three of the blogs in my category practice comedy. Randall, when the mood strikes, is a brilliant comic writer. And whoever it is that writes Intoxicology Report, Chris Kassel, has a very funny style, a mind and a comic sensibility that runs roughshod and merrily over everything and everyone in his inebriated path. He’s a bit unfocused, but there’s great fun in his meanderings. He has style and voice. And isn’t wine writing supposed to be like wine itself—full of pleasure and surprise and joy? I think the best wine writing is. Otherwise, as I often point out, it’s just typing.
Awards are for the group presenting them, not the nominees. Like funerals. There are six corpses in my category, vote for the one that you think will fill more pews at the service. The Wine Blog Awards serve to promote the folks giving them, give them some kind of authority and power that they never earned or deserved. Tom Wark began them, marketing dude that he is, and then sold the rights to them. That’s all fine and good, the great American way, but they are hardly awards given by your peers or the public. It ends up being like any other sort of election—who can garner the most votes on FaceBook, who can beg the most effectively on his blog, who can relentlessly Tweet and reTweet about his nomination and who has the most Followers. It’s running for Class President in the fourth grade. It’s childish and silly and undignified. I don’t know about you, but I find Follower a demeaning word. I’d rather have Leaders vote for me. Or maybe three Leaders, which is a double magnum.
It takes an enormous amount of creative energy for me to write this foolishness twice a week and care enough about it to try and make it good. Like every blogger I can think of, I feel unappreciated. Yet being nominated for a Wine Blog Award feels empty. I know that other nominees are honored, and some have written unashamedly asking people to vote for them, as though winning will in any way improve their lives or be a genuine accomplishment. Maybe I’m alone in feeling this. Wouldn’t be the first time. I never started this idiotic blog to be famous or to change the world or to share my journey as I discover the way to end a wine career. I started it to make folks laugh, and I started it to burst a few of the hot air balloons that overpopulate our industry. I’m not crazy or stupid, I know I’ve done very little of either. But I enjoy my failure. One of the secrets in life.
Would I like to win? Sure, who doesn’t like to win? I can always brag that I beat Randall Grahm like a cave-diggin’ Chinese coolie. Definitely some joy in that. I didn't nominate my own blog. John Cesano confessed that he did, and I'm flattered he would go to the trouble. We're not even related. And to the judges who put me in the final mix, well, thanks. You've made a lot of wine bloggers very unhappy.
Competitions of this sort are odious. I was once at a la-dee-dah tasting of Chateau Margaux conducted by the winemaker, Paul Pontallier. Someone in the audience asked him to compare his 1990 Margaux to the 1990 Latour. “I don’t make my wine to compare to Latour,” he said quietly, “I make Chateau Margaux.”
I don’t write to compare to Randall Grahm or Alder Yarrow or some Wild Walla Walla Woman, I write HoseMaster of Wine. A Wine Blog Award will never explain why.
We now return to our regularly scheduled garbage.