“Somm” is probably the worst movie I haven’t seen this year. Though anything with Morgan Freeman is a close second. That guy will do anything for a paycheck. Hell, he’d be a perfect somm. In fact, now that I think about it, all “Somm” needs is Morgan Freeman, perhaps as Andrea Immer-Robinson, to whom he bears a passing resemblance. I made a point of not viewing “Somm” for this review, and I’m glad I did. Too much emphasis is placed on actually viewing a movie before you review it, discovering what the movie is about, its subject matter and plotlines, its story development, its director and its stars. Reviewing a film blind is far more objective. It removes any prejudices I may have brought to the screening. I think you’ll agree that blind movie reviewing is the best way to get to the core of the film, and the best way to evaluate it. Hard to imagine a sommelier could disagree, at least.
Let’s begin with the title. Why “Somm” and not “Sommelier?” Were they worried about the number of letters on the theater marquee? Hell, it won’t be up there more than a week. Or is it because Americans are incapable of pronouncing “sommelier?” Well, that’s the truth. I used to hear “som-lee-ay,” and “som-a-lay” and “prik.” But I always think "somm" is a bit derogatory, a bit diminishing. And it’s not consistent throughout the film, from what I made up in my head. For example, no one calls Fred Dame simply, “Dil.” Is he even in the movie? If he is, I loved Linda Hunt’s performance as the old M.S.
“Somm” follows a bunch of guys as they attempt to pass the legendarily difficult Master Sommelier exam. It seems few women attempt the exam, which explains the absence of stirrups. The film has the obligatory time-lapse shots of clouds passing over vineyards (a symbol, I suppose, of the fleeting nature of time and the irrelevance of what these bozos are doing—either that, or the clouds look like ponies), as well as more time-lapse photography of vineyards going from dormant, to sprouting leaves like the Jolly Green Giant’s pubic hair, to being laden with grapes and, finally, to being harvested by Jolly Brown Dwarves, who wouldn’t know a somm from la migra except the somm’s shoes are dirtier. What this has to do with four dweebs cramming their pickled brains with wine facts escapes me. It’s said that maybe only 1 in 50 manage to pass the M.S. exam. So it’s exactly like the Miss America Pageant, only these guys don’t need to have a talent or a Brazilian.
If you don’t know that much about wine, much of what is discussed by the four candidates may seem like gibberish to you. It is, actually. I mean, look at those dorks, you know English is their third language, after Elvish and Klingon. The boys talk in short hand about the general character of a variety of grape varieties. This might come in handy the next time you feel like a dinner guest has overstayed his welcome. For example, we learn that Viognier has the characteristic smell of “Nathan Lane’s Wet-Nap.” Zinfandel can be pegged to “I threw up a little Pop-Tart in my mouth.” Seyval Blanc reminds the boys of “Melissa McCarthy’s landing strip.” A round of Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noirs yields the descriptor “Don Knotts.” And Syrah is given away by its distinctive aroma of “Bev-Mo 5¢ Sale.” There’s way too much of this kind of babbling in the film, but it does accurately reflect the kind of secret lingo that prevails in the wine world. When it comes down to it, it isn’t knowing wine that really matters, it’s knowing how to speak the language of wine that fools people into thinking you’re a wine expert. Con men always learn to talk the talk first.
But along the way, as we watch the guys sit around and drink thousands of dollars worth of wine, spit profusely, and expect their wives to clean up (are they becoming sommeliers or Arab princes?), we start to fall in love with them and their obsessive pursuit of an M.S. They’re likable enough guys, in the way all self-absorbed, narcissistic men are--think Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson with tastevins. The filmmaker, pity that guy who had to sit through endless hours of tastings with those bores, manages the nearly impossible task of making the audience root for these guys; though it’s to fail, of course.
The M.S. exam consists of three parts. The service exam is perhaps the easiest of the three. The boys have to learn how to smoothly upsell a wine list (“Really, domestic sparkling wine for her birthday? Planning on riddling yourself later?”), pour just enough wine in the first three glasses so the host’s glass is only half-full, remember to not take phone calls from annoying wine salespeople (“Remind her I only taste with winemakers or other M.S.’s”), and show up drunk for work. No one fears this part of the exam, or the second part, which entails a scholarly essay on some esoteric part of the wine business. One of the boys fails when he states that “Phylloxera is the capital of Pennsylvania.” It’s Harrisburg, moron.
It’s the third part of the exam that the boys spend the film fearing—the blind tasting. A candidate has to taste six wines blind in 25 minutes and identify them with no other clues besides how they smell and taste. The wine could be made from any of the thousands of grape varieties, and could be from anywhere in the world. Passing this portion of the exam is the most difficult part, and, as with any good exam, it’s a gift a sommelier will never make use of again. In what other test is the passing grade dependent on a party trick? You only have to do it once to get the result you want. Basically, it's like erotic asphyxiation done right. It's at this point in the film that the suspense builds. We’ve watched our heroes taste countless wines, crack endless wise, cry, wet the bed, call Jancis Robinson and breathe heavily, dance with Chaz Bono for good luck, stick pins in their Larry Stone voodoo doll (actual size), and swordfight with Erectile Dysfunction victims. All that for those two letters after their names.
Tom Wark, and his Warkaholics, recently banded together to form the American Wine Consumer Coalition. I think this is a great idea, though I can hardly wait for the National Wine Consumer Coalition to start so the two can play a Best of Seven World Series of Wine Consumer Coalitions. Don’t bet against the Washington Senators. Surprisingly, I wasn’t consulted during the formation of the AWCC. I certainly would have come up with a better acronym. Consumers Of Wine Seeking Honesty In Trade, that would work.
Yet it’s about time that someone stood up for the rights of wine consumers because, God knows, we’re done standing up for the rights of migrant workers, women and the mentally ill, all of whom make the wine business what it is. It’s the ordinary everyday wine consumer who needs looking after, who deserves to be able to buy what he wants, when he wants, however he wants, on whatever day he wants, whether he’s wearing underpants or not. (There are guerrilla tactics, but I recommend commando tactics.) We need a Voice for the American Wine Consumer, and who better than Tom Wark to be the ventriloquist to those dummies?
I haven’t joined the AWCC yet (again, sucky acronym—how about something perky like Drinkers Of Wine Need Equal Rights?). I’m waiting to see if there’s a discount if I buy twelve memberships, or if I join the Coalition of the Month Club. (The August selection of the Coalition of the Month Club is membership in the Stop Calling Every Fucking Wine “Food Wine” Coalition—a really worthy cause. Though, again, acronyms, people, acronyms!) I plan to join soon, but I’m waiting to see if they actually address the needs of American Wine Consumers.
To begin with, how about getting rid of the countless ridiculous laws regarding the sale of alcohol? Here are a few for starters:
In Alabama, it’s illegal to sell wine at a hanging.
In Pennsylvania, you can only buy wine at state-run stores where the wines are selected by rhesus monkeys formerly used as lab animals. Though, oddly, their scores are remarkably similar to Wine & Spirits.
In Tennessee, you can only buy wine in a county where the Supervisors sign their names with an “X.”
In Massachusetts, you can’t buy wine on Carl Yastrzemski’s birthday.
In Florida, you can’t buy wine if you use a walker. Unless it has cutout tennis balls on its feet, then you can buy wine during Wimbledon.
In Texas, you can drink and drive, but only if the wine scored 90+. Wilfred Wong is a State Treasure.
When these, and many other, laws were enacted, consumers were left out of the legislative process. They didn’t have a seat at the table. Hell, there wasn’t even a sommelier available at the table. And the house wine sucked. It’s time for that to change, and I believe the AWCC can be a force for good. (Again, such a worthless acronym. What’s wrong with Brotherhood of Lovers Of Wine for Justice Over Big Business? That’s a mouthful.) Here’s what I hope the AWCC will set out to accomplish:
Lobby in the states and at the federal level for the rights of wine consumers, hopefully at a nice Morton’s with a big T-Bone and a bottle of Priorat.
Educate wine regulators about the real interests of wine consumers, mainly drinking to forget and the relaxing of drunk driving laws. (MADD—now there’s an awesome acronym!)
Inform the media of the interests of wine consumers—including the latest upskirt of Rihanna and Justin Bieber’s hairy monkey.
Produce wine-related events for members just because there isn’t any goddam point to joining a wine coalition unless they have wine tastings where you can meet other wine consumers interested in promoting the wine rights of wine consumers while drinking Moscato Jell-O shots from naked Chinese contortionists.
Educate members and nonmembers alike on the politics behind wine, by which we mean the Three-Tier System, the influence of big distributor money, and the anti-alcohol lobby and NOT the politics of misleading winery marketing.
Support other organizations willing to advance the rights of wine consumers, like Larry’s Auto Body and the Organ Donation Association.
Support members’ interest in wine with valuable benefits. We’ll think of something. How about free rides on the Sterling tram? Buy a copy of Wine Enthusiast, get another for 5¢--a 10¢ value! The outtake reel from “Somm”—amazing spit takes. OK, don’t worry, you’ll get your damn money’s worth.
Give members discounts on real wine-related services, media and products. Like free blog subscriptions and great discounts on 2008 Mendocino Pinot Noir!
Tom Wark has worked long and hard on this, and he has the credentials and knowledge to make it worthwhile. All HoseMaster foolishness aside, consider joining. It’s worth the money, and it may just work. Here’s where to sign up:
Good Evening, Ladies and Gentlemen, and thank you for coming. I know you’re going to be glad you did. Tonight I am presenting you with the Wine Opportunity of a Lifetime, one that each of you would be crazy to pass up. Saying “No” would be like Dom Perignon going to the boss, probably bumping into a few walls on the way, telling him he had discovered a way to make wines bubbly and sparkly in the bottle, and his boss, Teddy Moët, says, “No, thanks, Dommy Baby, we’re going with orange wines.” How much would weddings suck now? Even gay people wouldn’t want to get married, not even, in that newfangled way, to other gay people. But Teddy Moët didn’t say, “No.” And he and his partner, Wink Chandon, went on to make a fortune in Champagne, though eventually, in a nasty moment of betrayal, Wink stabbed Teddy to death on the Ides of March--thus creating the famous Champagne named for Teddy’s last words, “Moët too, Brut?”
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There are a lot of wine reviewers trying to sell numbers. Pathetic little pretenders who prey on the insecure and the underinformed, but they have little chance of success. They’re simply founders of fringe religions, like those of people who worship snakes or join covens or buy Bordeaux futures. They have a few sad converts, a few True Believers, a congregation of dunces, but you’ll be working for the damned Catholic Church of wine. And once you open a neighborhood place of worship, a Robert Parker Wine Advocate Scorebucks®, your wine collection plate will overrunneth.
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So our investment can be your investment. We fronted the money for the name, and now we’re going to sell it, one little bit at a time. But only for a limited time. You need to act now. Before the bastard reads the fine print.
I was astonished to have received the Poodle Award for “Best Writing on a Wine Blog.” Actually, I
was astonished that there is a category “Best Writing on a Wine Blog.” And how did I get nominated? I think I share the feelings of the recent winner of the National Law Enforcement Officers Association “Best Bloodstain at a Crime Scene” Award. That is, nothing below the neck. And my intern, the lovely and just plain nasty Lo Hai Qu, also won an award for her insightful post, “The Death of Wine Critics.” While I chose not to give an acceptance speech, Lo Hai Qu asked if I would allow her to express her gratitude for her “Blog Post of the Year” Poodle. With some trepidation, here she is.
Oh, Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha…! I won, I won! When do I get my check? Awards come with prizes, right? Like don’t I get some kind of Riedel thing? A decanter, or a bong? I love those new Riedel bongs. And they’re right, the Maui Wowie is a LOT better out of their special Riedel Maui Wowie bong. OK, I didn’t compare it blind to a regular bong, but I was fuckin’ blind when I was done! Do I get one engraved? No? Nothing? What do you mean? Nothing? I win the stinking award and I get Nothing? Nada? Zero? Oh, crap, I got totally Jay Millered.
So what exactly do I get for winning the Wine Blog Award? The admiration of my peers? And what’s that worth? They’re wine bloggers. Wine bloggers are to writing what karaoke is to singing. Just a bunch of unattractive people faking it. So I’m supposed to be happy that they think I’m good? The hell with that. I want some money. Prizes are supposed to be about money. I mean, imagine you win Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes and the guy shows up at your house with balloons and a pat on the back? Now remember that I didn’t even get any fucking balloons! They get all these karaoke rejects up to Canada, charge them a bunch of money to drink Tannat (a grape that’s the same backwards, just like the Godforsaken country it’s from), rake in all this cash on the backs of the wine blog phenomenon, make the centerpiece of the week an awards ceremony, and what do they give the winners? They slip ‘em the ol’ Dr. Conti. “Hey, you won an Award! I swear to God it’s real.” Like we’re a bunch of wine collecting rubes, like we don’t know our Kochs from our buttholes. Sad thing is, they might be right.
By the way, Rudy, if you’re reading this, call me. I think you’re kinda cute. I love an Indonesian in handcuffs.
Me and my friends laughed like crazy at the winners of the Wine Blog Awards (that fart water HoseMaster likes to call them the Poodles—which has caught on like open sores, so congrats on that). So Best Overall Wine Blog is Terroirist? Really. It’s just a bunch of links. I know, maybe next year Reader’s Digest will win the Nobel Prize for Literature! That makes the same sense. Oh, I hear the phone book is up for a Pulitzer. Great plot, but I thought it had too many characters.
And then The Journey of Jordan is the best winery blog. This is too funny. Me and my friends thought for sure that Ridge dude would win, but you can’t beat a video parody of “Gangnam Style” that proves once and for all that wineries only hire white people who dance like Curley Howard with a load in his pants with poetry explications. And isn’t there a rule that if you use the word “journey” in a wine blog you’re officially Out of Original Ideas? Everything these days is a stupid journey. I’ve got an idea. Instead of a journey to discover wine, why not take a journey to somewhere where no one can hear you?
Every year, me and my friends can’t wait until the Best New Wine Blog is announced. It’s the Wine Blog Awards equivalent of our favorite part of the Academy Awards broadcast—the Death Montage. So the one this year is a bunch of winemaker interviews. That’s it. A bunch of winemaker interviews, which, by definition, are autopsy reports, with the same questions for every interview. Awesome. So the winner of the Best New Wine Blog wrote all of sixteen questions. Wow, I haven’t been this riveted since the last time I took the written test at the DMV. If you like the insight and wisdom of the IRS Form 1040, this is the blog for you! But you know what, and this kinda sucks, it just might actually be the best new wine blog. I like to read it with Bette Midler singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” in the background while pretending all the winemakers interviewed are dead.
And what’s with that NothingsBiggerThanMyHead guy? He reviews more crap than than a septic tank repairman. He won again for Longest Reviews on a Wine Blog. Me and my friends have wine tastings and we read his reviews outloud and every time he uses a funny descriptor, the drunkest one has to act it out. It’s a great party game! So like last time I got “penetrating gunflint” and I sat funny for a week. My friend got “a squeeze of green apple” but she was so drunk she totally let one rip. Love this guy. I'd totally do him just to read the review. "Musk, cigarette butt and My Little Pony Lubricant and Depilatory." Act that out.
OK, so I’m pretty buzzed right now. So I’m just gonna say that the stupidest winner was HoseMaster of Wine™ for Best Writing on a Wine Blog. Same tired old shit he’s been saying for five years, and he wins? You know what it is, you know why he won, don’t you? Everybody hates wine blogs now. It’s just a fucking backlash. Me and my Millennial friends hate them, that’s for sure. All these old people blathering on about wine. Blah blah blah blah, I was at this tasting with World’s Most Famous Winemaker, blah blah blah blah, I kissed his winemaking ass, blah blah blah, I had a vertical of his winemaker throb juice, blah blah blah, join me on my journey to discover wine, blah blah blah, I just love the wines of Peru and the Perumaniacs are the loveliest people, blah blah blah… So me and my friends voted for the HoseMaster, not because he’s the Best Writer, crap, he couldn’t write for Bazooka Joe comics, but because we hate wine blogs and Wine Blog Awards. Like if you hated baseball you’d vote Barry Bonds into the Hall of Fame. Same thing. Or if you hate truth you voted for Michelle Bachmann. Another same thing. So that’s why he won, the dick. Everybody knows it. Except him, he thinks he’s so funny.
I’m just hoping next year at the Wine Blog Awards he’s part of the Death Montage. Hell, he won, I guess he already was.
I wrote this piece in July of 2010 and, at the time, it caused quite a stir. I think it was mostly the photo. The conceit was that this particularly unattractive wine blogger wrote a list of what he learned at the Wine Bloggers Conference, held in Walla Walla that year. After every Poodle Conference, the blogosphere is alive with mediocrity, list after list of "What I Learned at...," and I guess I'd been having a bad week. Apparently, I have a lot of those. And the piece seem appropriate given the recent WBC in Canada. Anyway, it's always a joy to see THIS guy again, and revisit obscure cultural jokes about vuvuzelas.
learned so much at the Wine Bloggers Conference, and I had this totally
original idea to list the Top Ten Things I Learned! It just came to me.
I swear, I don't know where it came from. Maybe I'm channeling one of
the many geniuses I met in Walla Walla. You would not believe how many
geniuses were there. Steve Heimoff was there (he's like a SuperGenius!
He sounds just like Stephen Hawking! Not the physicist, just some guy
named Stephen, hawking.), Lettie Teague was there (she's such a genius
she writes for the Wall Street Journal, which is a newspaper just for
geniuses and doesn't even have comic strips!), Andrea Robinson was there
(she's such a genius she's got these wine glasses that make wine taste
so good you think you're drinking out of Riedel instead of a Riedel
ripoff! Wow, how smart is that?), there were geniuses everywhere! I
haven't met that many really, really smart people since I applied at the
DMV. I learned so much about blogging, and I'm really excited to share
it with you. I know a lot of you couldn't really afford to go to the
WBC, so I'm hoping these insights will be helpful. I wouldn't have been
able to go either if I hadn't sold all of those samples wineries have
sent me the past six months. Oh, don't worry, wineries, I'll still post
tasting notes on the wines! I'm not stupid. I wrote down all the back
labels and I'll go from there. It will be just like I actually tasted
them. Anyway, here are the Top Ten Things I Learned at the WBC!
1. To be a good wine blogger, you not only have to learn about wine, you also have to learn how to write!
Not sure I signed up for this. Isn't it enough that I know a little bit
about wine and took typing in high school? Those seem like solid wine
blogger credentials to me. Now it turns out I have to find my "voice." I
don't even know what that means. People can't hear me on this blog. I
don't need a voice. I have Twitter. Which is like vuvuzelas--if you
played them with your asshole.
2. Just reviewing wines doesn't make for a good wine blog.
Then why do they give an award to Best Reviews on a Wine Blog? I'm
going to go with this lesson, but I still think people are really
interested in my reviews. And why wouldn't they be? Nobody knows more
about Wines under Eight Dollars than me. I think the problem is bloggers
who talk about really expensive wine and about wines from grapes nobody
has heard of, like Mourvedre. Who the hell has heard of Mourvedre?
Wasn't that the guy who created "Jeopardy"'s real first name? What turns
people off is talking about great wines. Come on, people, let's stick
to what wine bloggers do best--recommending reliably mediocre wine!
3. I'm really famous. Everywhere I went around the hotel, people knew me. It's like I had a name tag. Oh.
4. There were wine writers before Robert Parker.
Apparently, this is true. But most of them were British and white and
had a hairy wah and a huge Johnson. But they are the past and we are the
future, and somehow we're supposed to feel good about this.
5. Marketing people are really nice, but you can't trust them.
This is kind of hard to believe. All the ones at the conference were
really, really nice to me and only said good things about my blog and
how good I am at matching wines with reality TV shows, which is
something I thought of myself and is really way more clever than
matching wine with music or old movies. Like with "Biggest Loser" I said
you should drink K-J Vintner's Select Chardonnay because it's really
fat and hopeless. And why wouldn't I trust marketing people when it's
marketing people who gave the Best Writing on a Wine Blog to marketing
people who write fluff about wineries and wines they represent and are
major sponsors of the WBC and also sponsor the European Wine Blog
Conference (where I hear the girls go topless!)? That seems fine to me.
Theirs really was the Best Blog. And it's not just a blog, it's paid
advertising! It's a blogger ideal. I guess they mean don't trust
marketing people who don't have a blog.
6. Bloggers don't like criticism.
That's what so great about blogging. We're all nice to each other. It's
like we all have the same defective gene. Except that HoseMaster guy.
But I'm guessing he's just mad about his hairy wah. Plus, I hear he's
been in prison for identity theft. He stole Hitler's.
7. Publish as often as possible. I
kind of knew this anyway, but it's good to have it reinforced. Content
needs to be slapped together as quickly and as often as possible. It's
quantity not quality. With enough quantity, quality will come. We know
this from Harlequin Romances and Cook's Champagne and Orson Welles. So
don't sweat the facts, don't worry about originality, just crank it out.
Whew. This one I can do. 8. Walla Walla is the Lady GaGa of wine regions.
I made this up, but it's really catchy. Walla Walla=GaGa. And there are
so many other similarities. Lots of fancy packaging with basically
nothing inside. And next year we won't be talking about either one of
9. Speed tasting wines and posting about them is fascinating and educational.
For example, I learned that most red wines taste exactly the same. Kind
of like spit does. And that tasting notes are best when written quickly
because you can just use the same words over and over and nobody really
notices. For fun, I often write descriptions, and then shuffle the
descriptions and the wines so they don't match! Know what. It's hard to
tell the difference. And it turns out that's what most wine bloggers do!
Now they tell me. That's how you know you have good tasting notes,
they're interchangeable. This is liberating and should cut the time I
spend on my blog in half, so I'll have five extra minutes to read
Catavino and thrill at the prose.
10. Credentials can be fabricated.
This is the most important thing I learned at the WBC. Your readers
know a lot less than you do, so knowing what you're talking about is
irrelevant. It's that you say stuff often and with a unique voice. So
now I'm going to be the Selma Diamond of wine bloggers! And if someone
stops by your blog and does happen to know more than you, you can delete
their comments. But how likely is that? With a stunning dearth of
talent, just look around, wine bloggers don't get comments.
What if Jesus had turned water into a nice gin rickey? Ooh, wouldn’t that have been refreshing? Maybe with little umbrellas in them, or, I know, a little red crucifix. That would have been festive. Then maybe every dimwit who starts his Journey to Discover Wine would stop referring to wine as some sort of miracle. It’s not a miracle. A miracle would be Robert Mondavi coming back from the dead. I mean the winery, not the man. A miracle would be a wine faith healer who could touch wine barrels and cure them of Brett, like an Oral Roberts of wine only without his fingers in the bungs. A miracle would be getting on the Marcassin mailing list and understanding the newsletters. Wine’s just fermented grape juice. A gin rickey is a miracle.
What if it turned out terroir was caused by sulfites?
What if sommeliers had to wear bells around their necks so you’d hear them coming? Big ones, like cows wear. And they could never take them off and had to wear them to wine tastings? And what if we issued supercharged cattle prods to restaurant customers so they could use them on the sommeliers as needed? Wouldn’t this enhance the restaurant experience and guarantee more people would want to look at the wine list? Wouldn’t it motivate sommeliers to be less arrogant? A wine list with seventeen German red wines? BZZZZZZZZZTT. Should have thought twice about all that Spätburgunder on the wine list, genius. Sommeliers would achieve new heights of popularity, and, as a bonus, receive the outpatient shock treatment therapy they need free of charge!
What if Stelvins were made like child-proof medicine bottles? Would Tim Fish still have a job?
What if you could go online and buy an MS for a day? Like you can register to legally marry couples for a day? You could print up some cards that say “Ron Washam (or your name might be preferable), MS” and you’d know everything about wine for a day. Like when The Scarecrow gets a diploma in “The Wizard of Oz.” You could buy it before your trip to wine country and walk into every winery and say, “Hello, I’m an MS.” just like the real ones do. You could drop it into conversations. “Does anyone know where the Court of Master Sommeliers is? I think I’m on jury duty.” Or what if you could buy a WSET for a day? Why would you? You remember what happened to the lepers.
What if spitting caused cirrhosis?
What if Robert Parker had decided to use SAT scores instead of the 100 Point Scale? You know, what if he’d thought of us as college material rather than junior high dumbshits? Then nineteen 2009 Bordeaux would have received 2400 points! 800 for aroma and complexity, 800 for overall quality, and 800 just for showing up. Sure, everyone understands the 100 Point Scale, but only brainiacs would understand the SAT scale. Though the highest score for a legendary 1982 Bordeaux back then would only be 1600. This still makes sense when adjusted for score inflation. Only wines with high scores would be allowed in college coeds.
What if Roundup worked removing winemaker tattoos? Would you carry some in your car? Even in Sicily?
What if smell were connected to bodily functions in your brain instead of memory? So every time you smelled Merlot you had to whiz? Would that affect the sales of Merlot? Or would it just come in wider-mouthed bottles? And what if smelling a nice Argentinian Malbec made you belch? Ever eaten in Argentina? I think it actually does. And if smelling Prosecco gave you the hiccups? No problem. The taste will scare them away.
What if a passion for orange wines is the perfect predictor for early onset Alzheimer’s?
What if grapes were the size of cantaloupes? Would you need migrant Samoans to harvest them? Or would you hire illegal aliens? Space aliens.
What if a winery could ship wine legally to any state in the Union? Wouldn’t that be entertaining chaos!? How would consumers know what wines to buy without a bunch of inept, barely wine literate middlemen to decide what wines are available and where? What would state legislators do without electoral money from the liquor industry? Win on merit? What if we treated wine like guns and didn’t worry if children or the mentally ill sign for the delivery? What if wineries weren’t allowed to sell their wines anywhere but the winery, and we didn’t allow exports from Italy, France, Greece and other third world countries? Limit choice the old-fashioned way—build monopolies! What if we passed an Amendment to the Constitution reinstating Prohibition so we could then pass another Amendment to the Constitution ending Prohibition, but then craft alcohol laws on a Federal level rather than each letting each individual State make a jackass of itself?
What if they let anyone write a wine blog? And then gave awards? How stupid would that be?
Ever wonder what it takes to host a spectacularly successful wine tasting in your home? Me neither. But here it is the first Monday of June, and I'm over at Tim Atkin's blog with some helpful pointers. Beam yourself over and discover Riedel's Law, as well as suggested themes for your next wine tasting. You won't want to miss this Special Edition of HoseMaster of Wine™ where I do my finest Martha Stewart impression. It's so good I'll probably end up in prison! Feedback on Tim's blog is appreciated, but feel free to comment here as well.
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."