Monday, September 24, 2012

Yet More Cure For Dull Wine Descriptions

Let’s face it, no one reads wine descriptions. The folks who publish them don’t even want you to read them. Oh, they go on and on about how you shouldn’t just rely on the ratings when deciding what wines to purchase, you should also carefully read the descriptions—the descriptions, they say, are more important than the ratings! But they’re so transparently full of crap. The numbers are in this size typeface, and the descriptions are like this. It’s obvious which genuinely matters more to them. However, we should also keep in mind that these reviews are published by men who actually think this is the same size as this.  But the real problem is how universally boring wine reviews are. The turgid prose can’t compete with the excitement that numbers generate. I like to imagine how wine descriptions would read if they were written by great writers instead of guys with thesauruses. So, OK, here we go again…

Ayn Rand on Raveneau Chablis

There are great wines and there are horrid wines, but it is everything in between that is evil. To drink wines that are great is a duty, but the man who drinks crap at least knows it is crap. It is the man who drinks wines in between, he is the banal knave who ignores the truth, who pretends that there are no standards, no absolutes in wine, who believes that 89 Point wines have a right to exist, the uneducated Neanderthal, and it is he who destroys himself and the wine business. He is evil. I drink wine for myself, and I drink wine for you, but I would never ask that you drink wine for me. I live only for my own pleasure, and I have the batteries to prove it. And what is a man but a vessel for pleasure? A Love Boat cruising the wine-dark sea, a nightly party in his pants, his tiny Gopher in charge? There is only existence and non-existence, First Class and Coach, original and extra crispy, First Growth Bordeaux and Argentinean Malbec, which is for suckers, for the tasteless, for the Gaucho Marks. Go, drink the great wines, they were made for you! I liked the zesty acidity of this lovely white.

J. D. Salinger on Cakebread Cabernet

You probably want me to tell you all about this wine, how it smells and such. But here’s the thing, it doesn’t really matter. Knowing how this wine smells won’t make you happy, and it won’t make you know more about wine either. It’ll just make you wish you were dead and a lot of people were drinking the wine and talking about you, saying nice things like, “Oh, he could sure describe a wine,” or “I’ll bet his mother was the reason he wet the bed until he was forty.” I could say that this wine smells like cassis and tobacco, and you’d believe me. But you should know that I’m a liar, I’m a big liar, I lie more than winery marketing directors. I don’t even know what cassis is, and I don’t think anyone else does either. It’s just a word they say to make you feel like you’re not as smart as they are. I want to puke every time I read that word. It’s like terroir, which is another stupid word that wine writers use. I mean, this wine has terroir and cassis, and when I was tasting it that was all I could think about. I like a wine that when it’s really good you want to call up the winemaker, tell him how much you like the terroir and cassis in his wine, and then you could meet him for dinner and he’d talk about how he got the terroir in there. But this never happens. Mostly you just call them and they wish you’d shut the fuck up and die. Like it’s your fault they made 85 point wine.

Richard Pryor on Burgundy

I don’ unnerstand people who drink wine that costs more than the clothes they're wearin’. Who spends more money on a bottle of wine than on your damn underwear? Like, “I got to have that new fuckin’ Pinot Noir so I’ll just keep wearin’ these old skanky ass, skidmarked Jockey shorts until I can feel the Mistral up my butt.” You take off the pants of any damn wine connoisseur and now you got some bouquet. “Ooh, man, what is that damned ester I’m smellin’? That your ugly Aunt Esther, wears the Depends? Or is your hundred-dollar Pinot all barnyard and shit?” You don’ see no winos doin’ that. No, man, winos, they got some self-respect, don’ go drinkin’ no wine that costs more than the ratty clothes they’re wearin’. They get expensive wine like that they gonna sell it and get somethin’ really good—like heroin. Some ’88 Clos de Smack. This Burgundy shit ain’t that good. Ain’t never going to set your ass on fire!

Lewis Carroll

“The time has come,” the Wall Street said,
“to talk of many things:
“Of screws--and cork--and sealing wax--
“of all that money brings--
“Of why the Zin is boiling hot--
“and all the crap Jay slings.”

“But wait a bit,” the Losers cried,
            “Before we go to school;
“For some of us are clearly dupes,
            “And each of us a fool.
“We drink our wines from Riedel glass
            “So morons think we’re cool.”

“It seems a shame,” the Wall Street said,
            “To play you such a trick.
“To taunt you with the wines we drink,
            “And lay it on so thick.”
But this was scarcely true,
            Because they’d hired such a prick.


Mockingbird said...


Andy Perdue said...

The Lewis Carroll bit was brilliant. Richard Pryor as wine critic? You are on fire!

I dare you to mimic Stephenie Meyers. OK, I dare you to read Stephenie Meyers

Alfonso Cevola said...

I ran into Frank Lloyd Wright on my jog this morning and we had a brief talk, about wine, Ayn Rand and the weather. I loved his parting remark, "Less is only more where more is no good."

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Stephenie Meyers? Life is way too short to read her, unless you're a 13-year-old girl. So, no, that's not likely. I haven't been a 13-year-old girl since last Halloween.

I think that was Wilbur Wright.

Thomas said...

I believe that with this post you have hit your zenith.

The time to move on is now--become a wine critic (ok, so it's not exactly a move up, but think what you can do to upgrade their literary stature).

napadavid said...

How about that pretentious turd David Foster Wallace?? Unbelievably, long, dull paragraphs that go on and on, non-stop footnotes to show off his endless research, pages and pages of obscure wine terms to show how brilliant and funny he is! And a bunch of idiotic sycophants who think it's the most insightful wine writing ever!!!

Andrea said...

In case you forgot, you are fuckin' brilliant! LOVE IT. Every word.

Tom Wark said...

OK...That did it. Now you've made my new list of wine bloggers at FERMENTATION!!!

No Fountain Daddy said...

Mr. P. says have it your Zenith. I had a Zenith once. It was fine until one day all the white colors turned green, sort of like Ribolla Gialla in the Napa Valley and most of Jon Bonne's favorite Chardonnays.

Loved the Carroll piece, perhaps because I could understand it. Ayn Rand was not readable for more than a couple of minutes unless you believed that you were the only one who was going to get rich and all the rest of the schmucks reading her were too stupid to get it.

Alfonso ran into Frank Lloyd Wright today. Is that what happens to people who read too much Ayn Rand or too much Hosemaster?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Every time I review wines here I get crap from everybody. Of course, I get crap from everybody no matter what I write, so there's that. And I can't review wines because I don't know how to draw.

Did you suggest DFW before? I'm sort of mulling him over. The problem is that it would take several thousand words to write a review of a cheap rose in his style. I'm too tired.

OK, I officially love you now. Thank you.

The fun of writing parody is in studying how someone writes, and then taking it to an interesting extreme. You learn a lot about writing, and about how to write, and about rhythm and wordplay, and, most interestingly, about the person writing. When I read bloggers before making fun of them, I get very strong notions of who they must be from their work. Then I use that as well. It's a wonderful creative exercise.

But who cares?

Not sure my server can handle all the Sermontation referrals, but thank you. Now if only I can make it on Alice's blog roll!

Nice. Zenith to green to Ribolla Gialla to Bonne! Sounds like a botched Red Sox rundown play. But nicely turned on your part.

Wines for the People said...

You promised us great writers and gave us Ayn Rand. Can I return a blog piece as corked?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Great point! I should amend it to "famous" writers. Rand was, indeed, without talent. She could have been a wine blogger. I shall make a note of it for the next installment, if there is one.

And, yes, you may return it for exactly what you paid for it.

Thomas said...

Rand a blogger? Not a chance. There's no money in it.


You are in Alice's blog roll; the color of the type is white.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Pretty sure Ms. Feiring only works in green. First it was wine, now it's money.

Mockingbird said...

Hey... Give Alice a break.... her plumbing needs a service call...

Thomas said...

Ah, Ron, your are just green with organic pinot envy...

Marcia Macomber said...

The Lewis Carroll was precious.

Cannot read Ayn Rand at the moment w/o thinking of the idiot veep candidate...oh, wait...cannot read Rand, period. She was a hack blogger, right?

Pryor? Brings back so many memories. I thought about what it would take to do it a la Robin Williams, but I think it'd be so much more fun to hear George Carlin's wine review. (What wine pairs with blue food?)

Yes, Zeniths...they did tend to turn green....

Patrick Frank said...

I squinted at the red liquid in my glass as I said to Pablo, "Wine is the blood of the earth." He mumbled something unintelligible, inaudible through the din and the stale cigarette smoke of the Tasca just off the Plaza Mayor where we sat that long Thursday afternoon. Before the war broke out, it was a clean, well-lighted place. Suddenly it grew quiet because the great retired matador El Gitanillo hobbled in, his body wracked by repeated gorings. He sat down two tables away. I pretended not to notice. Pablo took advantage of the silence: "What do you want from a wine?" he asked. "The same thing I want from a woman," I said. "She must be sleek, graceful, and intense all at once. Willing to give pleasure, but not easily." "I once loved such a woman," said Pablo, "but she was shot through the head by a sniper." I said, "And this wine is like that woman; brave and deep and full-blooded. This is what a man wants."

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Thanks, Patrick,
Now I don't have to do Ernie. He's the patron saint of literary parody, and I've been studiously avoiding him.

jake bilbro said...

Great call on Carlin, I'd love to see you give that one a go Ron...

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Jake,

I kicked around Carlin, and I'm sure I'll tackle him at some point. Though I'm not sure I have the talent to do him any kind of justice.

Lara Chapman said...

Why am I just now seeing this post? Genius. Especially Rand and Salinger. Very very well done. I actually kind of liked Atlas Shrugged but there is a point in the book where she (Galt) just goes on and on for pages and pages (sigh) but it sounded oddly enough similar to your writing. But I guess you were going for that.