Tasting notes are like those online disclaimers we mindlessly sign—nuisances that nobody reads. You go to a winery website, a box pops up that says, “Clicking here acknowledges that you are 21 years old,” and you check it and move on. How is this actually legal? It could say, “Clicking here acknowledges that you like to smell your finger after sex,” and we’d click it whether it was true or not just to get into the site. And no one seems to wonder about the consequences of signing those online forms that every credit card and every bank makes you sign. We scroll to the bottom, check the box, and hope we haven’t signed away our organs to the Russian Mafia. Though I have a big Wurlitzer they can have. I also wonder, if I have a woman check a box that says, “Checking this box acknowledges that you are over 18 and using birth control,” will that pass muster in court? Does it have to be beforehand, or does during count? Hell, I checked her box that said, “Checking this box acknowledges that I have had a vasectomy and have never given my cat a tongue bath.” Well, in my defense, it was half true. Does that make it legal? And, hey, it was only fair. The cat gave me a tongue bath first.
There’s no incentive to read tasting notes. Do I really care if a Cabernet smells like cassis, or tobacco, or Chaz Bono’s chubby? No. It has a score, that’s all I care about. But all the wine rags spend a lot of energy trying to convince you that it’s in your best interest to read the descriptions. Why? They’re boring. Fortune cookies have fewer words, more literary value, and far more truth, but I don’t want to read a hundred of them. No, I like to imagine how famous writers and thinkers might write about wine. Now that sounds like a damned premise, and about damned time.
Rod Serling on Napa Valley Cult Cabernet
Imagine this is the last Cabernet Sauvignon on Earth and you hold it in your hands. Tomorrow every last bottle of wine made from that valuable grape will vanish except this one, and what you hold will be the ultimate cult wine, the last great vintage of a once proud grape. First Growth Bordeaux vanishes from the Earth, except for the forgeries up for auction at Acker Merrill. Napa Valley is empty, devoid of real life and meaning-- much as it is now. And you get to give the last remaining Cabernet its only rating. Do you give it a number, or (raising lit cigarette to his lips) puffs? You unlock this wine with the wine key of imagination. You’re tasting a wine made of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas, and lots of new French oak. It’s a first release from a new producer, it’s in a very heavy bottle wrapped in tissue, nestled in a flashy wooden box, an ambitious wine with an ambitious price, $195 a bottle. There’s the signpost up ahead, just you and the winery owner, you’ve both crossed over into…The Twilight Zone. 85 Points.
Listen, I have to give a great review to this fucking wine…I mean it…I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stayed in their fucking guest house…Well, I could, but that doesn’t matter…I don’t owe them shit for that…OK, listen, this is great fucking wine and you need to buy it…What?...Just fuckin’ buy it…You owe me, you owe me…I don’t care…you owe me. I don’t give a shit that you can’t afford it…You can’t afford it because you’re an idiot, a fucking idiot…This is going to be a valuable wine some day… I’m trying to do you a goddam favor and all you want to do is skip to the Best Buys…This wine has more fucking fruit than Fashion Week…It’s more intense than Harold Pinter…fucking Harold Pinter, I’m telling you…Don’t you want goddam Pinter in your mouth?...He tastes like fucking chicken… 98 Points, I swear.
I went into a wine shop and I said to the guy, “Give me something for steak.” He gave me his dentures.
I told him I wanted a white wine to drink while I was fishing off the dock. “How about a Jura of your piers?” I bought a case closed.
I had dinner at a fancy restaurant. The sommelier was so stiff there was a chalk outline of him on the floor.
After I finished the first bottle of wine, he asked me if I’d like a second. My wife said, “That’s all he usually needs.”
A guy goes into a bar and says, “Man, I’m old. I can’t even remember how many bottles of wine I drank last week.” The bartender tells him to take his pants off and bend over. “You had five bottles of wine.” “How could you tell that?” “You told me yesterday.”
D. H. Lawrence on Dehlinger Pinot Noir
I felt the urgency of the Pinot Noir as it entered me, its turgid fruit clinging to my palate, its feverish intensity urging me to Pommard clone orgasm. 667, I cried, 114, I didn’t care. I didn’t care. Pomegranate! Raspberry! Cola! But my cherry, where was my cherry? Gone, gone forever. I didn’t want it to finish. No, I cried, stay in me, let me feel your length, smell your woody, earthy fragrance, hold you in my mouth until my warmth releases all that you have to offer. When I’m done you linger, you’re gone, you’re gone, but you linger, you linger…
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..."
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--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."