There’s a lot of hoopla surrounding the annual announcement of the MacArthur “Genius” Grants. This year, I was passed up once again. I know, hard to believe. I’m the Philip Roth of MacArthur Genius Grants, the Pete Rose, the Harold Stassen, the other Pope who’s still alive but no one gives a Ratzinger’s ass. What does it fucking take to get that MacArthur? I’m damned near out of genius. But for $125,000/year for five years, I can keep cranking out this brilliant stuff . Hell, that’s Lettie Teague money.
Frankly, I need the money. What stinks is that there isn’t any way to actually apply for a MacArthur Grant. You have to be recommended by one of an anonymous group of experts to an anonymous panel of judges. So it’s just like “America’s Got Talent.” Sadly, in that case, it seems as though my genius is doomed to go unnoticed.
However, in looking through the list of MacArthur geniuses, I noticed that not a single one had anything to do with wine. Not really a surprise. After all, wine and genius go together like monkeys and table manners. But, I wondered, why do we have to aim so high? Attaining genius is rarefied air, attained only by the likes of the greatest composers, the finest writers, and those guys at Apple stores. Why can’t we have grants for people in the wine business who aren’t necessarily geniuses, but who think they are? I could win that. And I can nominate a bunch of others. (Finally, the premise arrives…)
WINE GENIUS Greg Lambrecht!
Greg Lambrecht invented the Coravin, a device which allows you to drink from any bottle of wine sealed with a cork without having to remove the capsule or the cork itself. This is the stuff of pure wine genius. Reputedly, Lambrecht began thinking about this problem no one else has when his wife was pregnant, gave up drinking wine regularly, and, like most geniuses, he didn’t have a single goddam friend to drink wine with. Now, using a specialized medical needle he’d patented, a needle previously used only for delicate surgeries and making really nice popcorn strings for Christmas, Lambrecht found a way to penetrate the cork, remove a glass of wine, and fill the remainder of the bottle with argon gas (harvested, I believe, from flatulent Argonauts). In the great tradition of wine, the hallowed tradition of Riedel stemware, Vinturis, and wine magnets, Lambrecht created a whole new category of useless wine toy—a $300 gizmo, of limited production, of course, because every wine dweeb knows that everything valuable in wine is of limited production, that is the equivalent of a sterling silver caviar spoon. “Really? You actually opened your bottle of ’61 La Chapelle last night? Was it the servants’ day off?” The Coravin seems to be indicative of this era’s incessant need to pierce our most precious things—nipples, check; clitoris, check; old Burgundy corks, check. “Hey, Baby, want to see my piercings? Come down into my wine cellar and I’ll show you what I put my needle through.” As with all men’s toys, it’s overtly sexual, all about secret penetration. Using a Coravin is essentially wine frottage.
And, honestly, what good is a Coravin unless you have a Drilaporker® to use along with it? The Drilaporker®, which uses a high-tech, titanium fork to take one bite at a time out of a live pig so that you can savor your favorite pig for years to come!
Of course, the good news is there will be a lot fewer assholes complaining about corks as a closure from now on. Assholes with Coravins! Thank you, Wine Genius Greg Lambrecht!
WINE GENIUS Eric LeVine!
Genius is often found in the creative juxtaposition of the simplest insights. What do wine people like to do more than anything else? Not drink wine, though that would seem to be the right answer. No, wine people like to give their stupid opinions about wines to anyone who will listen. Now, what, when you get right down to it, is the Internet? The Internet is an infinite receptacle for stupid opinions, half-truths, misinformation and photographs of kitties. Why not combine those two insights? What if there were a place where wine people could go and share their wine opinions? Voila! CellarTracker was born. Originally a personal creation, Eric LeVine opened it up for anyone to use to track their personal wine cellars and post public notes on the wines they’ve consumed. Now you no longer have to hang around your local wine shop to hear someone say something worthless about a wine, you can go online to CellarTracker and hear thousands of people contributing to the white noise of wine criticism. Experts are so last millennium. Do the math. Why pay to read a wine critic with 50 years of experience when, with the click of a mouse, you can see the unbiased opinions of 50 people with at least a year of experience?! Or ten people with five years of experience? And, best of all, they’re all men! But, remember, it’s just like Twitter. If you expect people to follow you, you have to follow them, too. Thus, if you review wines on CellarTracker, defend its value to the death! This is how the virtual world works. You pretend you’re a hero on Dungeons and Dragons, and pretend you’re a wine expert on CellarTracker.
Eric LeVine had the brilliant insight that the Internet ultimately devalues everything. That humans will gladly take lousy advice for free over quality advice they have to pay for. He is clearly worthy of the title, Wine Genius! Though he forgot to include a place for the photos of kitties.
WINE GENIUS Wilfred Wong!
The wine buyer for BevMo, Wilfred Wong is also their most important wine reviewer. OK, this is genius. That 80 case floor stack in all 140 BevMo locations of The Incredible Bulk 2012 Sauvignon Blanc? Look at the review! 92 Points, and it’s only $6.99. Wow. That’s an amazing value. Who gave it 92 Points? Wilfred Wong! Well, he must know, he bought it. Plus, why would he exaggerate? Give me a case. I can tell my friends it got 92 Points from a famous reviewer. My friends are at least as stupid as I am.
You know, it’s a damned shame the rest of the world doesn’t get to do this. “Maison Pichette is clearly worthy of three Michelin stars!”—Chef Pichette. And, hey, I’ve had sex with myself, and I can truthfully say, no one is better, but women never believe me. But, then, I’m no Wilfred Wong. Though, yes, I can give you a case.
And let’s not forget the legendary BevMo 5¢ Sale. More genius. People actually believe they’re getting a deal. “Hey, that wine was horrible, but for a nickel, hell, I’ll take another.” Last time I went to the 5¢ Sale I decided to give the second bottle to an old wino hanging around the parking lot.
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..."
"And if any free sites think they can conquer the world, there’s always the Hosemaster to take ‘em down a notch."
--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."