Monday, September 14, 2015
Larry Anosmia MS at TexSom--Orange is the New Blech
I don’t know about you, but I think that “Texas” and “Sommelier” are about as natural together as “Utah” and “Jazz.” Or “Craft” and “Beer.” The words together don’t make any sense. There’s no jazz in Utah any more than there are Mormons in New Orleans. If there were, they’d rename the football team the New Orleans Latter Day Saints, and play their games on Lun-Day. Jackasses. And beer is not a craft. Nobody thinks beer is a craft. Basket weaving is a craft. Making furniture is a craft. Coopering barrels is a craft. Beer? Beer is glorified soup. Nobody makes craft soup. Can we just move on from all the “Craft” stupidity before the craft cheese people move in. Oh, I’m sorry, I meant Kraft cheese. You know, there’s Cheese Whiz and there’s beer whiz. Not much craft involved.
I was invited to speak at TexSom, conduct a seminar with another wine expert, and attend the tastings and events. I can understand why I was invited. I’m a Master Sommelier, and there are only 230 of us in the world. That’s not very many. People think there are a lot more of us, just like they think there are a lot more serial killers than there really are. I’m not sure, but I think Fred Dame is both. Just a joke, Fred. Or is it…? Of the 230, it seems like 100 of us were in Dallas for TexSom. It was so hot in Dallas, you could hear our hair gel crackling. Sounded like small arms fire, which they love in Texas. What do you call that many Master Sommeliers in the same building? Timothy McVeigh’s next job.
My seminar was entitled “Natural Wines—Orange is the New Blech.” When my seminar was first announced, I was worried because it didn’t sell out immediately. First of all, you won’t be a Master Sommelier for long if you don’t sell out. We all sell out. But, of course, the stupid Burgundy seminar sold out first. Wine beginners always jump on the Burgundy seminar first. And it’s always the worst seminar in the lineup. Always. Why? Because Burgundy experts are the dullest people alive. It’s true. All they talk about is terroir, and Premier Crus, and the influence of the Thelonius Monks in Burgundy. It’s a bigger snorefest than a Michel Chapoutier lecture—it’s why Chapoutier has to have Braille labels, everyone’s eyes are closed when he’s talking. Always avoid Burgundy seminars! Just forget about them. Otherwise, check your Côtes and drop your Clos, bend over, and let them drive it up the Seine.
My seminar was set for the morning of the second day of TexSom. So I had the first day to get shitfaced and cruise for MS groupies. I don’t think every MS has groupies, but Larry Anosmia MS has groupies! Most of them think the short cut to an MS is through Larry’s deep dark wine cave. I don’t know what the women think. Doesn’t matter, there aren’t a lot of female Master Sommeliers, or, as we like to call them, Sommeliettes. We’re still sort of a boys club—you know, lapel pins, secret handshakes, constant circle jerks. But we have to let a few girls in now and then or there’d be a lot of flack, so we do. We know that most folks don’t take the Sommeliettes seriously, anyway, so it’s OK.
Though I’m the last guy who needs to, I attended a couple of seminars that first day. It was hard to choose which seminars to go to. I really wanted to attend my own seminar most of all. I do love to hear myself speak about wine. Master Sommeliers and Sommeliettes are wine’s ambassadors. Where would the image of wine be without us representing it? Why, people would think wine was easy to understand, that it’s not intimidating. They might think that spending your life accumulating wine knowledge was a complete waste of time—like knowing every character in “Game of Thrones,” or golf. People might buy wines they like rather than wines we tell them to like. Without Master Sommelier and Sommeliettes it would be wine anarchy. You’re welcome.
Like the Burgundy seminar, there’s always a Bordeaux seminar. You must also avoid the Bordeaux seminar. Bordeaux’s nothing special, it’s just Cabernet in lipstick, Merlot in a thong. Don’t choose the Bordeaux seminar! It’s like going to a sushi bar and ordering chicken. Idiot. I passed on the B & B seminars and, instead, attended a seminar on Carignane. Carignane is its French name; in Spain, it’s Cariñena, in South Africa it’s Carinblixen. Whatever you call it, it’s a grape I usually like. But the seminar was a Carign-yawn. Duller than a ten dollar Prosecco. They served six different Carignanes at the seminar, and needed five guys to talk about them. There’s one guy running the Burgundy seminar, and two at the Bordeaux, we need five for Carignane? One guy and a mime would have been enough. I did learn one thing at the Carignane seminar—it’s overrated. It’s the CSW of grapes.
Between seminars there were sponsored luncheons. A winery, or perhaps a regional wine consortium, comes to TexSom and provides a lavish lunch, with plenty of their wine, for the attendees. This is a perfect way to introduce budding sommeliers to their future career as industry freeloaders. I had hoped there might be a seminar about junkets. There wasn’t, but the sponsored luncheons were an adequate replacement. One doesn’t go far in the wine business unless you know how to take advantage of wineries who try to buy your loyalty and affection with food and trips. TexSom wisely showed its attendees how to grab a free lunch and offer nothing in return but an enthusiastic Thank You. This will serve them well in the future.
But you don’t want to hear about other seminars, you want to hear about Larry Anosmia’s seminar, “Natural Wines—Orange is the New Blech.” I was brilliant, though unappreciated by my civilian crowd. I presented ten wines blind and asked the attendees to guess which were “natural,” which were “authentic,” which were “honest,” and which were “the same old crap.” I thought that would be easy. Turns out, without seeing a label, no one could tell. But as soon as I told them which wines were “natural,” everyone decided they liked them better. Wine as boobs. We talked about what makes a wine “natural.” Didn’t take long. The industry standard for what qualifies a wine as “natural” is, “Because I said so.” It’s known as the Riedel Standard, and it’s foolproof. All in all, it was an entertaining and fascinating seminar, and it was clear that all of the attendees learned a lot from me. They both shook my hand afterward, though I think one stole my watch.
No matter what people tell you, TexSom is about wine, wine knowledge, alcohol abuse and exploring your Texan sensuality. Not in that order. I haven’t seen that many wine professionals that drunk since Jon Bonné announced his retirement from the San Francisco Chronicle. It was like a good old fashioned Texas rodeo—only at this one, the clowns far outnumbered the cowboys.