Monday, December 14, 2015
The HoseMaster's Letter to Santa 2015
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.
HoseMaster of Wine™