Monday, December 14, 2015

The HoseMaster's Letter to Santa 2015

Dear Santa,

I had a wonderful year in 2015. I was threatened with a lawsuit! Thank you for that, Santa. It was my most unexpected gift. Lucky for me, it lasted about as long as a Riedel wine glass before it breaks. So, truly, I don’t need anything for myself this Christmas. But, as I do every year, I’m writing on behalf of others, on behalf of the wine business itself. Truly, Santa, we’re a fucked-up business (pardon my Elvish, but those little pricks can swear) and we need your help.

I’ve been so worried about sommeliers, Santa, that I can’t sleep at night. There are so many of them. They’re the worst invasive species since starlings, kudzu and Adele. They have movies made about them, a whole franchise, worse than the “Saw” movies, with less charm and more victims screaming. They even named it SAWM. I had to turn my head away in horror at this nightmare of human depravity. Though I hear the sequel is cute. TV shows have been made about sommeliers. Sommeliers are the new Real Housewives of Atlanta, portrayed as blathering, egotistical train wrecks you wouldn’t fuck with Dr. Conti’s dick, which may or may not be real, ask Maureen Downey. There’s even a sommelier in the new “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”—Han Job Solo. Enough is enough! Honestly, we could use more teachers.

And, Santa, I had an idea; is there a way to make it so that wine scores are tied to free shipping? I think this would be the best gift of all for wine lovers everywhere. Make it so that wineries who don’t post scores from wine publications are allowed to ship their wines for free to anyone in the United States! Consumers would be all over that, and so happy. “Please, please, please, Favorite Winery,” they’d say, “don’t use any scores! Just ship me a case of wine for free. I don’t give a crap what scores you received. So if it means I don't have to pay for shipping, Don’t Tell Me!” Scores would slowly go away. Wineries would see that their best interest is in ignoring scores, not playing that silly game they cannot win. And when scores go away, consumers win, too. Well, Santa, I’m sure lots of people wish for things that are impossible, like an end to wars, or Gummy Bear dick pills, but do what you can. I don’t need scores to go completely away, Santa, maybe just make them appear as worthless as they are, like wine aerators and Silver Medals.

This Christmas, Santa, my thoughts are also with all the poor and suffering people on Earth. It would be nice, I thought, to do something for each of them, something that would bring a little bit of joy to their wretched lives, by delivering gifts that might give them hope, bring them comfort. Gifts that express our concern for their welfare. Santa, please gift each and every one of the poorest and most down-trodden with a subscription to Le Pan, and a copy of Napa Valley: Now and Then! Gifts that truly say our priorities are in order, we care, and that will burn long into the cold, winter night.

Santa, for the Napa Valley Wine Train, what about a new conductor? Something that would electrocute the whole bunch. Or, at the least, how about giving them a new slogan, “The Napa Valley Wine Train: If you go black, you never go back!”

Like Georg Riedel, Santa, I am all for free speech. But there are a few choice words I’d like for you to get rid of, as a gift to the wine community. “Minerality,” Santa, what the hell is that? And why is it desirable in wine? If I want to be fucking Demosthenes and taste pebbles in my mouth, I’ll wear a toga and visit the Flintstones. And what makes a wine “authentic?” How do we know it’s authentic? Because it has the word “authentic” in front of it? Because a wine writer says it’s authentic? Is that idiot wine writer “authentic?” Does authentic Chablis have lots of minerality? Who cares? It makes more sense if you say it with pebbles in your mouth.

Though, frankly, Santa, I don’t think even you can rid the world of “natural.” Too many stupid people believe in it, like they believe in Wikipedia and read Wine Folly. The world is made up of but two categories of things, it seems to me, natural and manmade. And manmade things that are called natural are called natural out of desperation and marketing, not truth. Like Tang has “natural” orange flavoring. And it’s only “natural” to defend yourself with a gun. Nothing natural yearns to be manmade. Nothing natural is manmade. It’s a step down. Natural wine? OK, Santa, I give up. Let people fall for that tap dance. Wine’s about as natural as a hot fudge sundae. But, I guess I can only hope for a "natural" death.

Santa, would it kill you to keep an eye on Randall Grahm? I sure hope his plans to create 10,000 new grape varieties succeeds. The wine world needs Randall, he’s our Don Quixote, or, at the very least, Dapple. Please, Santa, make sure that when Grahm succeeds at creating a distinctive and new wine made from 10,000 different grapes that he’s created and cultivated that it doesn’t taste like Silver Oak. I think that just might kill him. Make sure it has minerality.

I hope all of this isn’t too much to ask. I tried to keep my list short this year, Santa. I wanted to include a lot of other gifts, like a Do Not Resuscitate Order for the regular contributors to World of Fine Wine—it would only be humane. And probably too late. And a few fresh ideas for Wine Spectator would have been nice, give Marvin the originality transplant he so desperately needs. Wine Spectator’s originality suffered rigor mortis years ago, and it’s been Restaurant Awards, Top 100, Best Wines under $20, and Matt Kramer ever since. It’s hard to tell the Wine Spectators from the 1990’s from today’s, except the scores are higher and the ads are slicker. Oh, wait, it’s the other way around. Wine Spectator is the missionary position of wine magazines--I don't mind being screwed, but can we change positions once in a while?

No matter, Santa. Most of all, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa (cheap party deals on the Napa Valley Wine Train!), and all the best in 2016.

I wonder if I’ll be here to write you next year, Santa? Like most everyone else, I hope not.

Merry Christmas!
HoseMaster of Wine


Unknown said...

Dear Santa: Please keep Ron alive and writing in 2016. I'd ask that you supply him with inspiration, but the Wine Industry itself seems sufficient for that. Jim Lapsley

Tom In Real Life said...

Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Robert Millman said...

Ron--This is one of your masterpieces. I was laughing so much on a NY subway that everyone looked at me as if I were a NY crazy. Perhaps they are right. Bob Millman

Samantha Dugan said...

All I want for Christmas this year, an hour or two with a bottle of Champagne and You.
Happy holidays my beloved Ron.
Oh, and please, oh please, don't stop!

Steve Osterholt said...

P.S. to Santa: Our unanimous wish is that Ron keep writing. Not just this slog, but also a book. Just think how much fun that would be. And if he did write a book he could change his bio to use the term "bibliophile" instead of that p-word ophile.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Thanks. I rarely lack for ideas, but I often lack motivation. So much dreck, so little time. I spend far too much time at this crummy keyboard. I'll keep plugging away as long as it feels worth it. But, believe me, it ain't really worth it.

Don you now your gay apparel?

Thank you, that's kind. I'll take masterpiece, though that has me thinking you are indeed a NY crazy.

My Gorgeous Samantha,
Oh, man, that sounds great. You know how I love a good disgorgement. Happy Holidays, Gorgeous. Tell you what, you start again and I'll think about not stopping.

A million kisses. I love you!

No books. Wine humor is a smaller niche than dog food recipes. I'm content just annoying everyone here once a week.

Marc Davis said...

Just a fan. You always make me smile /laugh. Robert Millman is right, Can't read this on the subway.

Ziggy said...

This blog is the only reason I go to work on Mondays (and sometimes Thursdays).
I never think of reading it at home.
If Ron quits I quit.

Merry Xmas, Hosey


PS: I am a robot.

Thomas said...

I would say Merry Christmas to Ron (and everyone else) but then, I would lose my grouch creds, so I won't say it.

I want to say to Millman and company: hope you don't drink coffee on the subway.

It's 68 F. in the Finger Lakes eleven days before Christmas. Should I be worried about that situation?

David Larsen said...

I really enjoyed this piece! Not sure if you've been a good enough boy to get all the presents you asked for though.You could get a lump of coal or a bottle of orange wine instead.

Bob Henry said...


68 F.?

Maybe you Finger Lakes guys picked too early:

~~ Bob

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Thanks, everyone. I'm more than likely going to take a Holiday Break. Say now through next Thanksgiving. I hope everyone has a fantastic holiday season, and, from the bottom of my evil heart, thank all of you for being part of this meaningless blog. I'm lucky to have the best group of common taters in the wine blog world, bar none.

Merry Christmas!
Happy New Year!

Don Clemens said...

Ron, you've done it again. Your Randall Grahm and Silver Oak riff made my day. You NEVER let me down! My wish for you is health, happiness and even more inspiration. Thank you for keeping me reasonably sane in a world of wine weirdness. Happy Holidays!

Charlie Olken said...

Happy and Merry, Ron. Come back full of whatever it is that drives the Hosemaster.

Your buddy,
The Puff Master

The artist formerly known as The WineGuy said...

Thanks for one more great read in 2015 RHM!
I look forward to giving out lots of silver medals with you at the Chron comp. next month. Cheers!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Oh, well, thank you. And thank you for being such a regular common tater. Way too may lurkers around here, but welcome to the blog world.

Back at ya, Puff Daddy. I have no idea what drives me, or the HoseMaster. Mental illness is the best guess.

Thanks for everything, Charlie!

Well, that won't be easy since I'm not judging at the Chron. But feel free to cast my vote for Silver as my proxy. Or even Silver+!

And what the hell are you doing here? But thanks for reading.

susan wu said...

Really, HoseMaster, that you're going to wean us for a year?

I'll suffer from severe separation pain. But on the other hand, I don't see our take/give relationship sustainable - we, the readers, have been taking but not giving reciprocally and may have contributed to your persistent weariness from committing to this blog. So please enjoy the well-deserved hibernation.

Will miss your wine and (blind) book review. There's something American Classic about HoseMaster although it sounds lame lingo. Heck, is Coca Cola or Marlboro considered American Classic too? Anyhow, I think you handled the Riedel thing with classics. If American Male Classic was partially defined as being gutsy, ballsy and soulful, then there you go - you've got it in you.

Happy Holidays to you too and many many smooches.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Susan Darling,
Oh, I'm taking a break, but probably not until Thanksgiving. Just goofin' around. I will more than likely return the first Monday of January over at Tim's place.

But I love that you take me so literally, Darling. And thank you for your kind words and thoughts.

Happy Holidays, Dear Susan Darling, I adore you!
Smooches Galore!

Aaron said...


I was actually just there! Visiting family in Ithaca, I decided to finally stop off at a couple of Finger Lakes wineries, I hit Monello and Shaw Vineyards. Rather interesting, although I seriously need to be able to get to a lot more before I start forming better impressions about the Finger Lakes. Other than Riesling, Riesling, everywhere! :)

Carl Giavanti said...

Is it OK for a winery publicist to say this is hilarious?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

No. But thank you.

Thomas said...


Next time, let me know. I'll steer you in my favorite direction. If you come back in winter, bring a bathing suit!

SauternesOliver said...

Most Epic blog of the Year!