Thursday, July 2, 2015
EPHEMERA: Wine Blogging--Just Another Kind of Sad and Lonely Exhibitionism
I spend a lot of time wondering why I do what I do now, considering where I've been, and considering the big wine picture. It seems to be out of some sort of need for attention. Which is pathetic. Writing HoseMaster of Wine™ was originally a way for me to see if I could still write satire. But after five years and more than 400 pieces I think I’ve answered that question. No fucking way. However, I have received an awful lot of attention, much of it negative, and, like the flasher in a battered trenchcoat who lives for the reactions, I keep waving my weenie around hoping for applause for my limp apparatus. Maybe wine blogging is just another kind of sad and lonely exhibitionism.
The nominees for the Poodles were announced (the winners having just been announced) and I ill-advisedly perused many of the nominees. Ouch. I don’t know who the judges were, but theirs must have a terrible task, the equivalent of judging the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest and having to drink the hot dog water afterward. Yet this year I felt some compassion for the nominees. Most must have felt gratified to have been nominated. I lobbied hard not to be nominated, I hate meaningless awards, which is another kind of pathetic. I didn't vote for the Poodles, but I certainly hoped that Chris Kassel would win for Best Writing on a Wine Blog (he didn’t, but he won for Best Blog Post of the Year, ironically, for a post that had nothing really to do with wine, but with Robin Williams' suicide--Morgue and Mindy) because he’s smarter and funnier than I am, and comedy is so much harder to write than tepid wine prose. That said, I’m sure Chris doesn’t give a crap that he won. I never did.
I ask myself all the time, what am I trying to prove by writing HoseMaster of Wine™? I don’t know the answer. Maybe I’m not trying to prove anything. But it feels to me like I am. Only I don’t know what. If anything, it’s to prove that I love wine. Not particular wines, not the romance of wine, just wine. And like any great love, I can’t explain why. I can only say I know my life would have been empty without it. That my love for wine is what led me to everything good about my life. So I feel protective of it, and I dislike those who merely use it, those who talk about it thoughtlessly, those who pretend to love wine, pretend to know more about wine than they actually do, but are merely using wine to benefit themselves. And they are legion.
I’ve always hated the pretentiousness that surrounds wine. Smart people can be pretentious, which is shameful. And stupid people can be pretentious, which is laughable. Wine writing these days seems guilty of being both shameful and laughable. Not all of it, not every single instance, not every single writer, but far too much. On the cosmic scale of being human, knowing a lot about wine barely ranks above being good at pinball. The endless debates that surround wine elevate trivia to heights equalled only by TMZ and pledging sororities. Yet chat rooms and blogs are filled with the kinds of wine frauds that would make Rudy Kurniawan proud, and only because wine is deemed important. I love wine, but I’d never, in the grand scheme of things, attribute it much importance.
In 2014 I judged in six wine competitions. This year I’ve judged two, and I’m probably done for the year. I know why I attend competitions. For the simple joy of being around a bunch of interesting wine folks, many, if not all, of whom know more about wine than I. It’s kind of like attending Bible Study, only everybody’s nuts and drinks too much. So just like Bible Study. Judging reminds me over and over again how endlessly fascinating wine is, and how it unfailingly outmatches us, humbles our feeble senses of smell and taste. Wine isn’t about those senses, though in a strictly objective sense it is. Wine is really about camaraderie, congeniality and laughter, the simple joy of intemperance. Or it’s supposed to be. Too often that is missing from wine judging, and from wine writing.
Truthfully, it’s also flattering to be asked to judge a prestigious wine competition. Not getting asked to return can be disheartening, a kick in the old grape nuts, but when you’re the HoseMaster, well, you never expect to be invited to the cool parties in the first place. Satirists never are. Getting invited even once is pretty cool, makes me feel accepted and appreciated. So, again, we’re back to pathetic.
Pardon my little rambling essay. EPHEMERA has always been about sitting in front of the fucking blinking cursor and just expressing what’s been running through my twisted mind. I do wonder why I do this. I don’t need to; it isn’t keeping a roof over my head. It isn’t a path to fame and reputation—not the way I do it anyway. It’s not even very good, not a repository of wit or insight that the world will some day honor and read. It seems to be some sick way of caring about wine, some way to repay what I owe to wine. As if that were possible.