In advance of the book’s publication (it’s already reached #1 on the New York Tines Bestseller List—no, that’s not a typo, go fork yourself), here are a few excerpts from the book, as well as some of the rave reviews from many of the lying bastards featured in it.
On WINE QUALIFIERS
"One of the easiest ways to spot folks who are lying about wine is the use of wine qualifiers; that is, an adjective that precedes the word “wine.” There are many examples. Natural wine, cult wine, balanced wine, 100-point wine, Gold Medal wine… Remember that it’s unnecessary, and always manipulative and misleading, to qualify what is simply fermented grape juice. Be wary. When you hear “natural wine,” react the same way you react to the phrase “honest politician.” “Politician” is information enough. You can be the judge if that politician is honest, though if that politician has been elected to office, chances are nil. “Natural” wine advocates are like “honest” politicians—they’re always going to tell you the other people are the ones who are lying. I find it best to assume everyone who claims their wine is superior to other people’s wine is being intellectually dishonest. And an asshole."
"Ever since its inception, the 100 Point Scale has been controversial. Robert Parker, the critic responsible for introducing the 100 Point Scale, has recently been quoted to the effect that when he retastes wines that he awarded 100 points, he finds that he agrees with his own points about 50% of the time. Not something wine critics tell you before you buy the wines they awarded high scores. It’s a lot like a brain surgeon saying, “Don’t worry, the operation is completely safe and without complications. For the 50% of people who survive it.” It’s best to remember to buy two bottles of a wine rated 100 points just to be sure that one of them is a 100 Point wine.
Lying about wine with points is one of our favorite ways to lie about wine. We tell ourselves that it makes perfect sense to attach a definitively objective number to a supremely subjective experience because it’s useful, and, moreover, the people love it. The same could be said for public executions and multi-car accidents. However, one does have to be qualified to lie about wines this way. Nothing is more irritating than a liar who simply isn’t qualified to lie about the subject. We expect only our most trusted experts to make shit up."
"The public’s, and the press’, current obsession with alcohol levels is another way we lie about wine. A wine with lower alcohol is praised as having better balance, as being more reflective of its terroir, as being more natural. Of course, to begin with, all of this is based on the information listed on the wine’s label, information that is incorrect the vast majority of the time. Alcohol levels listed on wine labels are about as reliable as the weights listed on people’s dating profiles on match.com. With wine and your next date, just assume it’s going to be a lot heavier. But, hey, it might be hotter, too!
And, really, we lie to ourselves about the alcohol in wine because we want to believe that we drink wine for its complex aromas and layered fruit flavors, for wine’s tradition and sophistication, rather than for the alcohol. There is no truth in this. We drink wine first and foremost for the way it makes us feel, for its ability to convince us we’re charming and witty when we’re actually sloppy and drunk. If there were no alcohol in wine, there would be no wine business. Wine without alcohol is like tires without air—flat and useless."
On WINE DESCRIPTIONS
"Our sense of smell is tied closely to memory, but is only a passing acquaintance with language. Describing a wine is much like spending time with a police sketch artist—we try to illuminate a wine by picking it apart and describing the pieces, trying to capture the whole under the illusion we can see all the parts correctly. It’s a kind of verbal autopsy. It might be accurate, but you can be sure the wine is far beyond dead when you’re done. Then we use those autopsy results as an affirmation of the stupid number we came up with to rank the wine, as though those poor results validate the other random ones. And suddenly those once very alive wines are butterflies named and mounted in a frame—really pretty but indisputably empty of life."
“What We Lie About When We Lie About Wine” is an appropriately dishonest look at the way almost everything we know about wine is based on lies. Here’s what a few influential wine people have to say about the HoseMaster of Wine™’s first book:
“I thought I was the master of wine fraud until I read the HoseMaster’s book.”—Rudy Kurniawan
“‘What We Lie About When We Lie About Wine’ might be the stupidest book I’ve read all year, and I read ‘Natural Wine.’”—Kermit Lynch
“To paraphrase Twain, there are lies, damned lies, and marketing. The HoseMaster needs more of all three.”—Jay McInerney
“I’d wait for the audio book, except it would be like a John Cage composition—lots of noise that has little meaning.”—Eric Asimov