"Irreverence is easy--what's hard is wit."--Tom Lehrer
Monday, March 24, 2014
The HoseMaster's Comprehensive Guide to Wine 3
CHAPTER FIVE: WINE TASTING
You’re never going to learn a damned thing about wine unless you learn how to taste it properly. With your mouth. Advanced students learn to use their tongues, like with kissing, but you’re not there yet. It can be hard to put wine in your mouth and avoid your tongue, so, fine, use your tongue, but don’t expect to learn anything from it. Try to keep it out of the way, as if you were at the dentist’s office and he’s drilling. This is how professional tasters do it. Oh, I’m kidding. I’m just being tongue-in-cheek.
The purpose of this chapter is to keep you from looking like a moron when you’re out in public tasting wine. At home, you can do what you want, for all I care. Pour the crap up your nose, or drink it out of a dog bowl, what does it matter with the cheap shit you drink? But if you’re at the tasting room of a fancy winery, or at an expensive public tasting, try not to look like a dressed-up dildo from the Miley Cyrus Collection. First of all, after the wine has been poured, pick up the wine glass by the stem! That’s what the goddam stem is for—it’s the handle! Don’t pick it up by the bowl like you’re a cast member of “The Real Housewives of Appalachia.” Picking up a wine glass by the bowl is like picking up a steak knife by the blade. The minute you pick up the glass by the bowl, everyone in the room knows you’re the kind of person who thinks Negroamaro is that guy in “Twelve Years a Slave.” What’s worse, though, is holding the wine glass by the base, between your thumb and forefinger. What are you, a circus act? Only pretentious wine pretenders hold their wine glass by the base, and you’re a novice. You only aspire to pretentious.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ A QUICK ASIDE ON STEMLESS WINE GLASSES
Stemless wine glasses are stupid. Don’t pick them up. They’re like crotchless panties. It’s a trap to make you put your fingers somewhere you shouldn’t.
Stemless wine glasses are like forks without tines. They’re the chopsticks of glasses.
Once you’ve picked up your glass of wine properly, it’s time to swirl it. There’s no justifiable reason to swirl it, it’s just another idiotic convention that wine demands. Oh, “experts” will tell you, it helps the wine to open up. Yeah, right. If I want the wine to open up, I’ll take it to fucking group therapy. It doesn’t do that. Oh, those pompous “experts” will also say, it helps to volatilize the esters! What the hell does that mean? If I want to volatilize esters I’ll go fart in the Jewish Home for Old Ladies. But, still, to look cool, you have to swirl the wine in your glass. Try to swirl it as fast as possible. And, remember, if it’s wine from Australia or New Zealand, swirl it in the opposite direction or you’ll totally ruin the wine. Many people think the wines from Australia suck when, really, they’re just swirling them in the wrong direction. There, Australia, problem solved.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ A QUICK ASIDE ON LEGS
People often ask what the legs in a wine measure. This is simple. They measure the stupidity of the person asking.
Now that you’re finished swirling, and you’ve put Wine Away® on all the stains on your shirt and the shirts of those within your swirling radius, it’s time to take your first sniff. Try to clear your mind, which shouldn’t take long since it’s largely an abandoned warehouse, and let your sensory memory tell you what aromas you’re picking up in the wine. Can you smell flowers, or peaches, or blackberries? Do you smell oak? Does it smell creamy or buttery? Most people will tell you there are no right or wrong answers. Yeah, there are. There totally are. Chances are you’re going to miss most of them, but the people serving the wine know the answers. And you should, too. The answers are right in front of you, in the damned glass. If you don’t know what the wine smells like after sticking your nose in it and smelling it five times, you’re like the goober on “Wheel of Fortune” who gets the answer to the puzzle wrong after Vanna’s turned all the letters around. Sheesh. No right or wrong answers. Since when is life like that? Jerks.
Why does it matter what it smells like, anyway? We don’t buy wine to smell it. Well, for one thing, if it doesn’t smell good, it won’t taste good—think hobos. Also, it’s a proven fact that taste is 70% smell. This sort of seems like God fucked up. So we don’t really have five senses, we have 4 1/3. Taste blind and you’re down to 3 1/3. Think of that the next time you believe wine reviews. That esteemed wine critic judged that $150 wine using only 3 1/3 of his senses. Well, actually, there’s no sound involved, so you’re purchasing wine based on the opinions of somebody using only 2 1/3 of his available senses. That’s less than half! Boy, don’t you feel stupid now. Hey, you have this Guide, just cancel those worthless subscriptions to wine publications. Let’s face it, 2 1/3 of their available senses? They’re not even fucking trying.
As Putin said to his top advisor, Now it’s time to put it in your mouth. Take a sip of the wine and leave it in your mouth for several seconds. The most important quality of fine wine is the texture. There are many acceptable textures for wine depending on the wine’s provenance. It might be rich and sumptuous. It might be lean and delicate. It might be like the inside of your lover’s thigh, or, perhaps, the corns on your grandmother’s feet (which, by the way, is where the name “Cornas” comes from). Any texture might be acceptable, except corduroy. There are wines with the texture of corduroy, but when you swirl them, you know not to put them in your mouth—they make that creepy “swishy” sound.
Once you’ve taken note of the flavors and texture, it’s time to spit. Or swallow. I’m sure you’ve made this choice before. Once the wine has evacuated your mouth, make sure to notice how long the flavor of the wine lingers on your palate. This is called the finish.
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."
"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..."
"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."