"Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is."--Francis Bacon
Monday, July 15, 2013
Matt Kramer on Bull, and Other Literary Endeavors
Our nation’s dullest form of writing is the writing of wine descriptions. Unless you count USA Today. (I love USA Today’s motto, “We sell it in airports cuz it’s terminally dull.”) Do you actually read wine descriptions, or do you just skim over them like everyone else? Here’s a real wine review lifted from Wine Spectator:
GIANFRANCO FINO Primitivo di Manduria Es 2010 (91 points, $75) A toasty version, with ample notes of baking spices and mesquite to the rich plum reduction and macerated blackberry fruit. Mouthcoating, featuring a long aftertaste of fruit, spice and tarry mineral. Better than previously reviewed. Drink now through 2015. 1,250 cases made. —Nathan Wesley
And here’s how a normal wine consumer reads it:
GIANFRANCO FINO Primitivo di Mandiblahblah 2010 (91 points, for $75 fucking dollars!) A toasty version, with ample something or other spices, damn I’m horny, mesquitoes and plum reduction, whatever, macerated blackberry fruit, oh who doesn’t macerate blackberry fruit…mouthcoating, oh man I need a new mouthcoat…long fruit, spice and tarry mineral…wait, did I read that right, tarry mineral?...yup, that’s what it says…what the fuck is a tarry mineral?…I used to own Atari video games… a tarry mineral must be like when James Cagney says, “You dirty copper…”…Better than previously reviewed…man, must have gotten a nasty letter from Advertising. Drink now through…my balls itch.
I read that original description and I have no idea how that Primitivo tastes, though it did make me want to invest in tarry minerals. But it takes a special gift to be able to write hundreds and hundreds of wine descriptions every year. It’s not a gift I want any more than I want to be able to fart “Stars and Stripes Forever.” OK, I actually would like that gift. But then I started thinking (ah, here comes the premise, I knew it was here somewhere), what if wine critics famous for their wine descriptions wrote actual literature? What would that look like? I have a couple of ideas…
ROBERT M. PARKER writing as Mystery Writer ROBERT B. PARKER
In my experience, absolutely the greatest private detective is Spenser. In 2010, generally a cool year, though there was a heat wave the second week of August that made the whole city of Boston smell like a fat guy in a wool suit with hints of marzipan, Spenser was already the greatest private detective in my experience, and every genuine crime fan should get to know this awesome Juicy Fruit gumshoe, with that distinctive note of leather sole.
When his phone rang, a high note tone reminiscent of a tuning fork clanged on the metal plate in James Laube’s head, Spenser answered it in his usual sophisticated and unctuous manner, “Hello.”
Regular readers will know that at this point I introduce a femme fatale, and only one that’s 96+. Long and supple, she is redolent of sandalwood, Asian spices, and lingonberry, with a distinct perfume of Elizabeth Taylor’s newest fragrance, “Rigor Mortis,” the perfume designed to make him stiff. I’d lay her down for 3-5 years.
MATT KRAMER writing as ERNEST HEMINGWAY
It was a hot and dusty day in the arena and the bullfight was about to begin. Robert was alone and he was thinking about what he would tell his friend Marvin about bullfighting. Marvin didn’t understand bullfighting. He was new to bullfighting, and Robert felt Marvin needed his insight.
It’s fine to like what you like, Robert would begin. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. If you like it for the gore, that’s fine, gore is a good place to start. Once you understand gore, how it affects the soil and how it affects your sense of smell, you can move on. If you like the pageantry, I get that. Once I only came for the pageantry, but the pageantry isn’t really the essence of the bullfight and one day you will come to see past it. Only then will you be a real connoisseur of bull. I am proud to say that I am a highly respected connoisseur of bull. Hear me, and one day you will be, too. Maybe you just like little Spanish boys in tight pants. I can see that, but you must also begin to see that there are some fine French boys in tight pants too. We are living in a golden age of boys in tight pants from all over the world.
The bullfight, Robert continued to lecture Marvin in his thoughts, is more than just man against beast. It represents respect and reverence for death. Many times the bull dies, but a matador risks his life as well. But throughout the battle, he champions the bull. As do I. We, the matador and I, pretend to attack the bull, pretend to cut through the bull, but, in truth, we are glorifying bull. Remember, there is no business here without the bull. Therefore, I am the bull.
The corrida was about to begin. Robert was in his usual poor seat. Right behind his stupid column.
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
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--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
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--San Francisco Chronicle
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