“…any food product that feels compelled to tell you it’s natural in all likelihood is not.”—-Michael Pollan
Thursday, December 12, 2013
The New Wine Fairy Tales: The Talking Fish
The Talking Fish
Once there was a young boy who lived in an enchanted valley in the far north of a golden state. One day the young boy was walking along the river when he heard a voice. There wasn’t another person around, and the young boy wasn’t prone to hearing voices in his head, not like his cousin who had pierced his body with several hundred toothpicks and claimed to be a magic washboard. The voice was asking for help.
“Help,” the voice said, in a tone that registered as fishlike. Not baritone, but bass.
The young boy walked in the direction of the river, towards the voice, and came upon a fish stuck between some rocks. “You must be a pretty stupid fish,” the young boy said, “to get stuck between rocks.”
“Fuck you,” the fish said. “If you help me out from between these rocks, I’ll give you a magic power.” The young boy was impressed at the fish’s command of the language, and he stepped into the river and kicked the talking fish until it was freed.
“Cod-dammit,” the fish said. “You could have been a little gentler, asshole. But you’ve freed me, as I asked, and so I will grant you a magic power.”
“Do I get to pick my magic power?” the young boy asked. “Because if I do, I pick being able to lick my nuts like a dog does.”
“No, moron,” the talking fish said, “the magic power you now have is that you are a Super Taster!”
“oh.” the young boy said.
“What?!” the fish said, “that’s not good enough for you?”
“Can I taste my nuts?” the downcast young boy inquired.
The talking fish paused for a moment, and then said, “Listen, son, manta man, I think I’m wasting this magic power on a dumbshit like you. But a deal is a deal.” And with that, the talking fish swam away.
Now it happened that the enchanted valley where the young boy lived was the most famous place in the world for wine. The enchanted valley was covered in vineyards, and people came from all over the world to taste the wines. Almost everyone who lived in the enchanted valley was a winemaker. Of course, this stood to reason, because no one can stand to be around a lot of winemakers except another winemaker.
Being a Super Taster was amazing, the young boy thought, but not really very much fun. It was kind of a stupid magic power. He could taste things that nobody else could taste, but that didn’t get him laid. And, really, the young boy thought, what’s the good of having a magic power if it doesn’t get you lots of strange. One of his friends had a magic power. He had twelve inches of tongue. He got lots of strange, and a recording contract. That was a real magic power.
One day the young boy stopped at a nearby winery to talk to a winemaker he knew. The winemaker handed the young boy a glass of his newest release of Cabernet Sauvignon, even though he knew the boy to be dumber than an awards show.
“Wow,” the young boy said, “I’ve never had a wine like this. I can taste blackberries that a bear slobbered on, green olive from a Leccino olive tree, sweet Santa Rosa plum, vanillin from a lightly toasted Francois Freres oak barrel from a tree once hit by lightning, your wife’s lipstick, a whisper of your neighbor’s happy spurt, a #2 lead pencil with an eraser nearly gone, Kenyan coffee slightly overroasted, and cassis. And,” the young boy said, thinking of his friend the talking fish, “on a scale of 100, I’d give it 96.”
The winemaker was floored. He made the young boy write his description on a piece of paper and he took it to the local wine merchant. The wine merchant posted the description in his store, and the winemaker’s wine sold out in one day.
Soon every winemaker wanted the young boy dumber than a roomful of ball bearings to taste their wines and write about them. The young boy started to ask for money for his words. “Oh,” the winemakers said, “we can’t do that. That would make you look like a dishonest young boy. Charge the wine merchant!”
“No,” the wine merchant said, “I can’t pay you for your super taste. Make the people who buy the wine from me pay!” And so he did.
Soon the young boy was tasting hundreds and hundreds of wine every day and writing long and detailed descriptions of what he tasted. He tasted dozens of flavors in every wine. His descriptions baffled the people who buy wine, for no one could taste all the flavors the young boy could taste. And, for the most part, the people who buy wine didn’t even want to taste the weird shit he tasted in the wines. They gave up reading his words. It was the scale they loved anyway. The people who buy wine didn’t even care a little bit about all the descriptions he wrote, about his magic power, they only read the numbers. In the back of his head, the young boy, as he assigned the numbers to the hundreds and hundreds of wines he tasted, could hear his old friend the talking fish speaking his words of wisdom.
The young boy knew he had been right. Super Taster was a stupid magic power. He was wealthy beyond his wildest dreams, famous and powerful in the enchanted valley in the golden state. But now people made fun of his words, and insulted his magic scale. The young boy, now not so young any more, yearned for the days before he’d stumbled upon the talking fish stuck between two rocks, for the days when he could just enjoy the enchanted valley and all the winemakers who lived there. Well, maybe not the winemakers.
One day when the young boy was very old, he was walking near the river again when he heard the voice of his old piscine friend. Could the talking fish still be alive? The young boy, now old, hurried to the river. And, there, waiting for him, was the talking fish.
“Talking fish! How are you? I’m so glad to see you.”
“Who the fuck are you?” the fish said.
“You don’t remember me? Forty years ago I rescued you when you were stuck between two rocks and you gave me the magic power of being a Super Taster.”
“Idiot,” the talking fish explained. “I didn’t give you any magic fucking power. I just said that so you’d help me.”
“You mean I’ve never been a super taster?”
“Hell, no. Man, you’re dumber than a school of anchovies. There’s no such thing as a super taster. Who the hell thought you were a super taster? Douchebags. You’re no different than anybody else.”
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
"...With sometimes crude analogies and occasional droppings of f-bombs, Washam cleverly uses satire to expose the underbelly of the wine business. It's often hilarious stuff as long as you're not the one being lampooned. Washam takes no prisoners in skewering all that is silly, stupid, frustrating and pretentious about wine, and his favorite targets are other bloggers and writers. No one is immune."
--Linda Murphy in "Vineyard and Winery Management"
"No one is immune from California sommelier and wine judge Ron Washam's skewering. He polishes that skewer with boundless enthusiasm and acuity." --JancisRobinson.com
"As serious as the world of wine is, it does allow time for humor. Each Monday and Thursday, Ron Washam customarily posts a commentary on his needling wine blog HoseMaster of Wine. Washam, a former sommelier and comedy writer – he might say they are closely related – is the most opinionated, humorous and ribald observer in the wine world. His body of work is irreverent and remorseless. It’s almost always satire and parody, though he occasionally drifts into straight commentary, sometimes even with tasting notes. This past year, one of his posts was named the best of the year in the Wine Blog Awards. His success has spawned several imitations, which in their awkwardness show just how difficult satire is."
--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
"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
"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."
--Reign of Terroir
Robert (Joseph) was/is funny unlike HoseMaster who wasn't/isn't.