Though it’s rarely mentioned, and there doesn’t seem to be much coverage in the media, we have an election coming up the first Tuesday in November. As a well-informed voter, I know there is a black guy and a white guy running for an important office against each other. But that’s not the part of the election that matters. Hell, it’s like boxing, always bet the black guy over the white guy, it’s mostly fixed anyway. I think I also heard that one of them is a Mormon. Pretty sure it’s the white guy. Must be, black Mormons are like most sommeliers—they have the title, but they’re mostly just there to clean up and lock the doors. So just ignore that race, and focus on what really matters in the upcoming election. Propositions.
At least here in California, there are a lot of important propositions that will decide the future of wine. I know that thousands of people depend on the HoseMaster of Wine™ for guidance in all things pertaining to the industry, so I’m providing my recommendations for how every wine lover should vote in this upcoming election. If you’re still confused after reading my list, just mail me your ballot. I’ll shred it faster than a Florida Republican.
VOTE YES on Proposition 97
Prop 97 would create a “luxury tax” on overpriced wines that would be re-distributed among wineries charging reasonable prices for their wines. For example, a Napa Valley Cabernet selling for $195 would be required to pay a 20% luxury tax of $39 on each bottle sold. $195 is a stupid price for a bottle of wine considering the same money could feed a family of six for a week, or be better spent gambling on cock fights. A Russian River Pinot Noir selling for $150 would also be required to pay a $30 luxury tax. And so on. The accumulated taxes would be divided among struggling wineries charging fair prices for their wines as an incentive to keep wine prices down. The proposition also creates a fund to treat the mental health of those who purchased the overpriced wines. An independent panel of experts will be assembled to decide where the “overpriced” ceiling is for each category of wine. So, as an example of fairness, at $15, any bottle of California Sangiovese would qualify as overpriced. And every damned Dessert Wine at any price.
VOTE NO on Proposition 99
Proposition 99 would allow wineries to name their proprietary wines after diseases. This is a terrible idea, of course, but one that the big corporate wineries are eager to capitalize on. K-J has already trademarked “Bulimia—The Wine That Tastes Just As Good the Second Time.” We don’t need that. There was a test brand from the Sierra Foothills called “Petite Psoriasis” that had a peel-off label. Seems rather tacky. And do we really need “Syphillis” in a screw top? You can see the marketing appeal for the wineries though. “Give your significant other a case of Sterling ‘Gonorrhea.’” That would move the sales needle, if not the hypodermic. But the next thing you know other countries will follow suit and we’ll suffer the nightmare that would be Soave "Ebola." For the love of God, vote No on 99.
VOTE YES on Proposition A
Proposition A would ban the use of French in all marketing materials. French is the source for all the wine vocabulary that is stupid, illogical, and inexplicable. Use of the word “terroir” would be punishable by a hefty fine, as well as mandatory attendance at a Jim Clendenen winemaker dinner (though the Supreme Court may rule that is cruel and unusual punishment). “Cru” would also be banned, except for rapper winemakers. A Pinot Noir producer who used the word “Burgundian” would be beaten senseless and forced to wear Jean-Charles Boisset’s hand-me-downs to leather bars. It’s about time these stupid, misleading French words were made illegal. “Methode Champenoise” always sounds like a fancy brand of douche to me anyway, so let’s just get rid of it. I’d like to see the law go even further and ban terms that are related to French wines, even ones in English. Crap like “First Growth.” Sounds like the results of your colonoscopy anyway. But, really, if we can just ban “terroir” we’ve made the wine world a much better place. I’ve never known a quality human to use it, only marketing people. You must vote Yes on Prop A.
VOTE YES on Proposition 18
Prop 18 would force wine competitions to award Gold Medals that are actually made of 24K gold. Opponents say that this will raise entry fees for wineries that want to enter competitions, while advocates argue that it will stop the obscene proliferation of Gold Medals. Both are desirable results. Silver medals will remain worthless, and Bronze medals will be eliminated in favor of valuable parting gifts. "Our 2009 Zinfandel was awarded American Tourister luggage!" Fewer entries, a result of necessarily higher entry fees, will mean the mostly senior citizen wine judges will actually be able to stay awake. Meanwhile, competition organizers will put pressure on the old farts to give fewer valuable medals, resulting in Gold Medal wines that are actually worth buying. Imagine that.
VOTE YES on Proposition L
Proposition L seeks to make it illegal for sommeliers (a word that would be banned if Prop A passes—let’s just call them what they really are, Cork Presenters) to make and sell their own wine. The marketplace is flooded with wine made by real celebrities, it doesn’t need wine made by fake ones. Sommeliers should be limited to doing what it is they do best—making winemakers squirm with their idiotic opinions. This is valuable work, and shouldn’t be undervalued. But sommeliers making their own wine is like gardeners making their own manure—fine in the privacy of their own home, but I don’t want to have to smell it. Be brave and stand up for your convictions. Don’t be a No L Coward.
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.
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