“…any food product that feels compelled to tell you it’s natural in all likelihood is not.”—-Michael Pollan
Thursday, April 17, 2014
The HoseMaster of Wine's™ Wine Class
You don’t have to know much about wine to enjoy it, and you need to know even less to write about it. Knowledge can enhance your pleasure drinking wine, but it gets in the way of writing a wine blog. This is yet another of wine’s mysteries, like why so much wine tastes alike. No one knows why so many wines taste alike, though I think we all agree they do, but it does explain why so many of them receive exactly 89 points. When it comes to wine, shit just works out. You will find that if you become interested in wine, knowing more about it will enhance your experience, deepen your relationship with wine. This is how wine differs from women.
My goal in publishing The HoseMaster of Wine™ Wine Class is simple. I’m tired of answering stupid questions from readers individually, so I’ll answer those idiotic questions here, in a format that won’t single you out as one of the dumbest wine drinkers since Kathy Lee Gifford. At the end of each month’s course, I hope you’ll be encouraged to return, discuss the wines I’ve recommended, and pray to Almighty God I won’t be present in the comments to ridicule your puny and irrelevant “insights.” I think you’ll find that by participating you’ll discover just how little you actually know about wine, and you will begin to keep your thoughts to yourself when among more knowledgeable wine people. I see this as a public service.
As you follow my lead and taste the wines I tell you to, you’ll begin to understand your own tastes and where you have failed to appreciate how much better mine are. Wine can be an intimidating subject, but that’s what makes it worth knowing about. Lots of beverages will get you drunk, but when you know about wine you can use that knowledge to intimidate other people, and that’s where much of the joy of wine lies. If you take my Wine Class seriously, soon you’ll be able to make your superiors look stupid, and, honestly, isn’t that just about the best thing in life? Aside from setting cats on fire?
I taste hundreds upon thousands of wine each year, but tasting is different than drinking, in much the way a food fight is different than eating. When you taste a wine and write about it as a professional, you’re extrapolating from that tiny taste how you think it will go with food, how it will age, and how it measures up against other wines in its category. How is this like a food fight? People throw shit at you when you do it, that’s how. Fat people with powerful wine publications. When you drink, you make all that go away. You can assess the wine with food, learn about it as it evolves over the course of the evening, and maybe work up the courage to tell your critics to fuck themselves with a four-foot ah-so. This is the way to learn about wine.
The class will require some work on your part. Genius. I’d like for you to take notes on each wine. If you want to go all Schildknecht (check Wikipedia under "Logorrhea"), use your imagination, describe smells and tastes that can’t possibly be there. That’s a good way to feel superior to the others, and increase your vocabulary. But, for the most part, I’d recommend you stick to your general impressions of the wine. Is it red, and why? Hold the glass up to the light and admire the legs. Idiot, the legs don't matter, I'm just screwin' with you. Would you describe the aroma as intense or is it delicate? You’re old, how do you know you’re not just losing your sense of smell like so many of our prominent wine critics? Does the aroma change, and if so, did you blame the dog? Would you say the texture is soft and silky like the inside of your mistress’ thighs? Or is it harsh, like the feel of her whip? And why are you so easily aroused, what does that say about you? Finally, what is your overall impression of the wine? Did you find it pleasant or profound? Or did you find it crappy despite knowing you’d be wrong because I selected the wines, you moron, and what do you know? These are all questions I’d like you to entertain, as well as what makes you think anyone will even read your thoughts about wine? There, now you know what it’s like to have your own blog.
My purpose is to get you to think about wine in a way you may never have before, that is, from an educated perspective, not your usual stultifying ignorance. Those of you who are already knowledgeable about wine might find that joining in the discussion will reaffirm your own particular arrogance in a pleasing manner. Perhaps wine’s best quality is its ability to powerfully affirm self-importance. This is certainly reflected in all of the wine world’s major personalities, some of whom should probably be publicly shamed only they’re too drunk most of the time to notice, often appearing in worthless videos dressed in a nun’s habit. Yup, I’m talking to you, Jon Bonné.
Alright, let’s get started. What better wine region to begin with than Bordeaux? Everyone acknowledges that France makes the finest wines in the world. In fact, you’ll find that the countries that make the best wines are the countries that hate Americans the most—France, Germany, Italy and, of course, Napa Valley. There was a time when every beginning wine drinker cut his teeth on Bordeaux. Now no one gives a crap about Bordeaux except the face-obsessed Chinese. But I think that Bordeaux still has a lot to offer the novice because once you discover how overrated the wines are, you have learned a lot about wine. I’ve recommended a few wines, but, truly, considering the ones you can afford, you’ll find that a wine from any vintage from any appellation will disappoint.
Try to match the Bordeaux with a simple meal. Beef would work, even something so simple as Grandma’s Alpo. Note how the wine enhances, or fails to enhance, the meal. Think about ways you might better have spent the forty bucks the Bordeaux cost you, say by giving Grandma some human food. Everything I’ve mentioned in this beginning column is important to your ultimate appreciation of wine. If at the end of these Wine Classes you don’t feel more comfortable about wine, you’ll have only yourself to blame. I can’t hold your goddam hand all the time.
Finally, don’t worry about the glassware you use. Like you would. Make sure and put lipstick on before you taste or you’ll look like you don’t have any self-respect. Men, mind the backwash, what are you, a hillbilly? Use any glass you like; especially with Bordeaux, it just won’t matter. Worrying about using the proper wine glass when you drink wine is like worrying about what kind of paper bag you put the dog shit in before you light it on fire on your neighbor’s porch. It just doesn’t matter, it’s the quality of what’s in it that counts.
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..."
"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."
--Reign of Terroir
Robert (Joseph) was/is funny unlike HoseMaster who wasn't/isn't.