Monday, July 25, 2016

Lo Hai Qu on the Death of Wine Critics--The Best of HoseMaster!

Who doesn't love a good summer rerun? I had a tough week or two. So I need a break. Not that anyone cares. And I sort of miss Lo Hai Qu. I haven't seen her for a while. Lo has always been my favorite voice, but she hasn't been seen lately. My theory is that she was kidnapped by aliens, or Natural Wine producers, which amounts to the same thing.

For those of you new here who haven't met her, Lo Hai Qu emerged from my dyspeptic brain because Joe Roberts, 1WineDoody, had an intern at the time, Shelby Vittek, who is now doing an abysmal job at She's like the librarian who always recommends Tom Clancy novels. I decided that if 1WineDoody had an intern, the HoseMaster needed an intern. Coincidentally, or was it Fate, I was watching the CBS Evening News with my gorgeous wife and there was a news story about China that mentioned a government official named Hai Qu. I said to my wife, "Wouldn't it be funny if his name was Lo Hai Qu?" And suddenly, unbidden but nearly fully formed, Lo Hai Qu came into my life. 

This is her very first appearance on HoseMaster of Wine™. I won a worthless Wine Blog Award for this piece. I hadn't read it in three years before I decided to rerun it today, and as much as I like the concept (me using my Voice, the HoseMaster, who is in turn channeling a young woman's Voice--very meta), I hate how about two-thirds through I go back to my HoseMaster voice. I must have been in a hurry to finish it. I know Lo Hai Qu will one day return. In some very strange, borderline sick, way, I actually love her.

Here, from March of 2013, is the debut of my crazy and beloved Lo Hai Qu. Original introduction included:

I’ve turned this HoseMaster of Wine™ post over to my intern, Lo Hai Qu. It’s Lo’s job to catalog all the samples I receive for review, primarily wine, but a surprising amount of urine as well (Were it not for Lo, I’d probably mistake the latter for orange wines because they tend to have nicer labels). Lo also answers the phone, occasionally when it’s actually ringing, responds to my voluminous fan mail with prepaid restraining orders (I’m talking to you, Leslie Sbrocco and Jenna Talia Baiocchi), and massages my funny bone. Lo works voluntarily, and not because I lock her in a soundproofed room hidden underneath my Castello di Amorosa torture chamber replica dressed as Natalie MacLean and tied to a water bed filled with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Ah, but I do love the smell of cat pee in the morning.

Lo Hai Qu has some thoughts about wine and wine critics, and how Millennials differ from us old fucks.

Establishment wine critics are dead to me. I spent last week sending condolence cards to the people they left behind. “Sorry, Mrs. Parker, for your loss. You must be devastated. As for me, I never read The Wine Advocate, so, on the 100 Point Scale, my sadness is a 78—unctuous, with overtones of Schadenfreude.” “Dear Mrs. Laube, I can only imagine your grief. I’m sure Jim has gone on to a better place. I hear Hell is lovely this time of year. And there’s all the Lodi Zin he can drink.” “Dear Mrs. Heimoff, you must be Steve’s Mom. All the best. Please tattoo ‘I was wrong about Social Media’ on Steve before they drop him in the dirt hole. It’s comforting to know he’s met his final terroir.”

Me and my friends that like wine, we don’t care what wine experts think about wine. Since when do you need more than five years to understand anything? Medical school is like only four years, right? And you let those people poke stuff into you. Bartending school is only a few months, and then they make hella good drinks. How long is beauty school? And those geniuses have scissors near your neck. So, my point is, once you’ve spent a few years liking wine, the first thing you learn is it’s all a game. Everything you can learn from those old creeps you can learn from your friends on FaceBook, and the experts who write those cool wine blogs (not like the asswipe who writes this one) who have actually written about wine, ON THEIR OWN BLOG, for like years. Like I could see myself paying money for a subscription to Wine Spectator when I’m still living at home because the same generation you want me to listen to talk about wine is the generation who made this fucked-up world where I can’t get a job that pays more than $12/hour. Yeah, that makes sense.

So, you ask, when I want to learn about wine, or when I want advice on what wines I should buy, where do I go for that advice? I don’t go to those crusty old turds who write for established wine magazines. My friends and me, we don’t care about points. We don’t know what points mean. Points aren’t a conversation. Like Twitter, that’s a conversation! LOL, IMHO, MILF. #WINECRITICCORPSE. See? So if I want to know what to buy, I go on FaceBook, because the combined opinions of 40 people with an average of two years of wine experience is 80 years of wine experience! Who the hell has 80 years of wine experience? The Queen of fucking England, Elton John? And it’s 80 years of wine experience for free. This is the key word for Millennials, you dying old wine critics, “Free.” We like free. It’s why we invented the Internet, so we could get free stuff 24 hours a day—music, movies, pornography—which you idiots always paid for! We’re the smartest generation ever. So we expect free wine advice, too. And if you won’t give it to us, we’ll just make it up. It’s worked for Truth on the Internet, why won’t it work for wine? 

Maybe the confusion, to be serious for a moment, comes from the definition of “wine expert.” In the old days, people had to spend years and years studying wine, taste thousands of wines every year to fine tune their palate, taste the “great wines” as often as possible in order to understand how high the bar is set, travel to wine regions and taste rigorously, keep notebooks filled with tasting notes, and read extensively on the subject from books written by acknowledged and respected wine writers. Eventually, you’d be thought of as a “wine expert.” That is so last century. I’m only 28, and I know like at least 50 wine experts! Not one is over 35! How do I know they’re wine experts? They have a blog. They not only wait tables, do the schedules and lock the doors of the restaurant at night, they’re the Sommelier! They go to wine tastings at the local wine shop and taste every single wine every time and THEY DON’T NEED TO SPIT! Some have tasted more than a hundred wines under $25. These people know wine. Plus, they’re not old and their advice is free. Why wouldn’t I listen to them?

Don’t feel picked on, Old, Dead Wine Critics. We just prefer the voice of the crowd to give us what we need rather than the solitary voice of a professional critic, whether it’s movies, restaurants, wine or opinions. We like to share all those things with our friends, it’s just more fun and if one of us looks stupid, we all look stupid! Why in the world would I listen to a wine critic who costs money when I can go to CellarTracker and read what forty strangers have to say about a wine? This is how you learn! It’s just like in school when you passed a test because you copied the answers of the stranger sitting next to you! Hell, he has to be smarter than you are, he wrote down an answer! Same thing with CellarTracker. This is time-proven wisdom.

Millennials, we are so done with so-called wine “gatekeepers.” Why? Mostly because we don’t even know where the gate is. But, also, we have each other. And, as I’ve shown, we’re the smartest generation ever. We’ll never get tired of FaceBook or Twitter. We’ll never stop Yelping. We love Yelp! Where else can you go to find out what people with no class think about stuff they don’t know anything about? Except FOX News? Wine criticism is changing because we want to be the wine critics! And when that happens, when the old fucks writing today are finally done, retired or dead, then everyone will be a wine expert because they know their own taste—like you can be your own doctor because you know your own body. It’s the same thing! Believe me, Millennials are every bit as good at writing impenetrably and meaninglessly about wine and wine criticism as any other generation. If anything, we’re even better.


Robert Millman said...

Ron--she got better over time. Maybe the Hi triumphed over the Lo Q. I hope she has more to say. A voice like hers comes along once in a blue moon.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Lo seems to have gotten lost in my twisted mind. It's been Trump and Larry Anosmia, and maybe a new voice that seems inside me. But I know that Lo will be back. She's absolutely my favorite. I'd forgotten that in this first piece I assigned her an age--28! In my head, she's about 23. So I might just change that. Truthfully, though, to me she is ageless.

It's genuinely scary how real Lo is to me. I often expect her to walk into my house for work. Could happen...