Monday, August 8, 2016

The HoseMaster of Wine™ Previews New Wine Books


I’ve been wading through the upcoming releases of new wine books set to debut just before the holiday season this year. Oh, it’s an exciting lot! All kinds of fascinating, controversial, and just plain must-have books for the literate oenophile. Both of them. Many of these new releases are self-published, but the rest are actual books. Here are some of my favorites. All of the books were reviewed totally blind to guarantee objectivity.


“The Completely Amateur Guide to Writing Worthless Wine Books” by Madeline Puckette

Ms. Puckette, pixieish author of the fairy tale website “Wine Folly” (why, just kiss a frog and, Abracadabra, you’re a knowledgeable wine writer—with frog breath, just like Michel Bettane!), has written a very useful book for wine bloggers who want to publish. So many wine bloggers ask themselves, “How do I create a successful wine book when I know very little about wine, and have the writing skills of AutoCorrect?” Ms. Puckette managed that very feat with her book, “Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine.” If by “Essential” you mean “facts don’t matter.” The Donald Trump approach to wine. Turns out it’s simple, though one might assume that given the author. This useful book gives the aspiring wine writer worthwhile tips on how to write a worthless wine book:

Use lots of graphs and pie charts. They look official even when they are totally worthless, sort of like Scientologists.

Who needs experience when you have Wikipedia? With a few quick strokes and deletions, you can take any wine information found on the internet and Melania Trump that motherfucker. Simple.

Get a cute haircut. No reason. Just, for once in your life, get a cute haircut. All the wine experts have them!


“The Completely Amateur Guide to Writing Worthless Wine Books” is an Essential guide to wine writing. And I do mean Essential.



“The Finger Lakes Clean and Jerk” by Kelli White

The prolific Ms. White, author of the heaviest wine book on record, “Napa Valley Then and Now,” has outdone herself with the supersized “The Finger Lakes Clean and Jerk.” Used by juiced-up Russian weightlifters as a workout tool, “The Finger Lakes Clean and Jerk” is the authoritative guide to the Finger Lakes wine growing region—the Wine Book of the Year no one has been clamoring for. Don’t let the title fool you, it’s not an autoerotic sex manual for lonely Master Sommeliers. They already have “World of Fine Wine” for that. (Never borrow their copies. The Terry Theise pages stick together like natural wine writers.) Rather, White has managed to produce the definitive guide to what she calls, “America’s premiere cool climate grape growing region, if you don’t count Barbara Banke’s lingerie drawer.” Weighing in at just under Peter Dinklage, this is a fascinating account of the winegrowing history of the Finger Lakes, and includes White’s perceptive reviews of the best wines of the best producers, giving special attention to the wines of the Middle Finger Lake, known as Lake Fuckyou, named for a local Native American tribe. White is a delicious writer, and you'll want to devour this massive tome with a knife and forklift.


“Riesling: Who Really Gives a Shit?” An Anthology

The perfect companion book to Ms. White’s, “Riesling: Who Really Gives a Shit?” is the newest in the “Who Really Gives a Shit?” series, following “Orange Wine: Who Really Gives a Shit,” “Wine Blog Awards: Who Really Gives a Shit,” and “Dry Furmint: Who Really Gives a Shit.” The “Riesling” edition may be the most controversial in the WRGAS? series. Riesling has long been touted as one of the world’s finest wine grapes by authorities ranging from Stuart Piggott to the highly regarded Stuart Piggott, and everyone in between. In this anthology, the editors have compiled articles expressing the majority opinion that, while Riesling may be one of the great wine grapes on the planet, most folks don’t really care. Sure, it’s great, it’s the Barry Bonds of wine, but let’s not pretend we actually like it when, really, we’re just afraid of it. Who buys Riesling? Oh, it goes with so many foods, just like bad breath. Contributors to “Riesling: WRGAS?” include Eric Asimov (“If One More Sommelier Suggests Riesling, I’m Going to Take a Wikileaks on Him”), James Laube (“I Get Enough Diesel Sucking Marvin’s Tailpipe”), and Jancis Robinson (“Riesling: It’s Rheingaud Awful”).


“Making Sense of Phoning It In” by Matt Kramer

Some wine writers tirelessly impart wine knowledge; Matt Kramer is our leading wine writer who tirelessly speaks of his own. In this collection of columns first published in Wine Spectator, Kramer delights us with clever satire (“Letter to a Wine Snob: Be More Like Me) and hard-hitting editorializing (“Letter to a Wine Snob: You’ll Never Know as Much as I Do”). Kramer has an easy-to-read style. He’s the Easy Bake Oven® of wine writers—he works with one low-wattage light bulb. This is the latest in his “Making Sense of…” wine books. The wine world is eagerly anticipating next year’s release, “Making Sense of Hanging it Up.”


These are all must-have wine books. And keep your eyes open for these other about-to-be-released titles:

“Melania Trump and Me” by Natalie MacLean

“Mama Mia, Logorrhea!” by David Schildknecht

“The Fred Dame MS Story” by Fred Dame MS, as told to Fred Dame MS, English Translation by Fred Dame MS, published by Fred Dame MS, foreword by Fred Dame MS.

“A Crash Course in the Wines of Sicily” by Eric Asimov with Alfonso Cevola.

43 comments:

Alfonso Cevola said...

Actually, the Sicilian tome might also be known as "The numbskull's guide to wine tourism" as my skull is indeed, still numb.

pam strayer said...

No one else makes me laugh so hard over my morning coffee.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Alfonso,
I couldn't resist. Glad you're basically OK, my friend. And being a numbskull will make your TexSom experience perfect.

Pam,
Yeah, I have that effect on women. Smooch! I adore you.

Orris Cowgill said...

Which AutoCorrect did you use? DILLIGAS. Good laugh today especially the wiki leaks.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Orris,
I had to look up DILLIGAS. The act of looking it up reflected my agreement with what it stands for. Thanks for that.

Thomas said...

WRGAS and DILLIGAS, each in the same morning. I am fully educated until tomorrow.

I can't wait for Alfonso's and Asimov's crash course. Obviously, they wrote the book the way every Italian in Italy would write a book--while driving.

Sparks said...

I am bitterly disappointed in you. You used to be impartial. You used to be above reproach. You wrote that the only way to honestly evaluate a book is to review it 'blind' and yet, it is now clear you have actually seen these books. Things will never be the same as they were, my innocence and trust are gone. All I have left are the rock solid ethics of presidential politics and the honesty and authenticity of natural wines.

BFJ said...

Hahaha, the Riesling portion is cruel, but I love the Piggott line. Nice work, sir, as always.

David Pierson said...

How about Eyeglazer, James Conaway's heelarious sequel to Nose, where a newbie to wine goes on a murderous rampage after trying to get through his three door stoppers about the history of Napa...

Dean Tudor said...

Very well put Ron, as always...You are the bestest.

The Wine Writers' Circle of Canada was considering offering an MWW (Master of Wine Writing), but now I'm not so sure. It is tough to be a writer and be mocked by such a rapier wit as yourself. Of course, we give honorary degrees if you speak to the class...DWW anyone? Dean Tudor, MWW.

Dean Tudor said...

I'm just joking. Trump is the bestest. He's not as unhinged as some wine writers.

Nestor Milo said...

Regarding Puckette's defamation. The journey must begin somewhere, right? For what I've been reading in this comment section most of you started that journey taking weekly private lessons from H. Johnson and attending thrice monthly tasting seminars with B. Laxer, but for those of us that where not so lucky it was a great start. Wine was a lonely road for a while, and when i visited my first wine region, Madeline promptly responded to my email with google map locations of 20 wineries I had to visit, each one with personal descriptions and recommendations. That was 4 years ago, for free, and not the only time she responded to me, a complete stranger. I have her posters, and her book, they help to inspire my curiosity (yes, to fact check as well) and also because I am 100% behind good people making a living of their passion. No of you would know that, of course. From what I gather your eheritance includes extensive verticals, and measures as large comfortably inserted in your posteriors.

Bob Henry said...

"Get a cute haircut. No reason. Just, for once in your life, get a cute haircut. All the wine experts have them!"

Geoff Kruth, he's picking on you again.

http://hosemasterofwine.blogspot.com/2015/11/the-somm-old-shit_30.html

gabriel jagle said...

dude, Wine Folly is the new Natural Wine.
In other news, I think I work with a few people who've contributed to the WRGAS series

Charlie Olken said...

Sometimes it is necessary to just have fun--as you usually do when you allow these explosions of irreverence to enlighten our days.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Gang,
I've stayed away because I've been busy. This was, indeed, as Charlie intimates, a throwaway piece. It began with the title of Kelli White's new giant book, Finger Lakes Clean and Jerk. I don't know where that came from. But pieces like this give me a rest from the more "serious" pieces, the satires and "Wine Critics in Hell" and Trump Emperor of Wine stuff. It's fluff, but, I hope, at least amusing and strange and just maybe makes a point.

To address Mr. Milo: Get over it. Puckette wants to be in the big leagues, she should learn the damn rules. I can tell you unequivocally that I get more personal emails from people in the wine business, writers and sommeliers and salespeople, thanking me for making fun of her, for pointing out her lack of knowledge and her puerile pieces, than for any other thing I do, including insulting Riedel and Parker and every other target. That doesn't make it right, but to pass yourself off as an authority when you are not, is certainly grounds for satire. Defamation? Really? As it turns out, it ain't libel if it's the truth. Love her all you want, adore her, but don't mistake her for any sort of authority. Her work is littered with mistakes. If that's who you want to learn from, I'm glad you're not my doctor.

And yet, I expected your response. Ms. Puckette has a loyal band of sycophantic man-boys, and whenever I lampoon her, I get threats and insults. I almost never get them otherwise. Sad, really.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Oh, and for those of you keeping score, I'm actually publishing a Sighted Review of Ms. White's "Napa Valley Then and Now" on Thursday. Her work motivated me, and I thought I needed something new to keep myself interested in my own blog. I haven't written book reviews since college. I raved about "Love Story!" (Remember that piece of shit novel?) I had fun being a serious critic. I'm sure I'll get shit for it, which I richly deserve.

Thomas said...

Ron:

I'm glad my books are dry enough to keep you from not even wanting to not read them. I couldn't stand the defamation and libel that you would spew from the truth about me ...

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Thomas,
You'll have to settle for slander. I'm too lazy to write.

Charlie Olken said...

Hey!! No insults to Love Story. Erich Segal was one of the teachers of a class I took in college called "Uses of the Comic Spirit". The best damn English class I ever took. Imagine reading assignments like Don Quixote and Rabelais.

Some of the people in Love Story were real classmates altho the central characters were mostly fictional.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Charlie,
"Love Story" has one of the worst first lines in the history of novels: "What do you say about a 23-year-old woman who died?" Maybe it was 21. No matter. He wrote it as a tearjerker, as a way to make quick money, and it shows. He may have been a great teacher, but that's about as bad a novel as I can think of. The movie was the chick flick of the '70's. Man, what a piece of crap.

Though Don Quixote I can get behind.

gabriel jagle said...

I watched that movie with my wife a couple years ago. It was the whitest thing I've seen since the Napa Valley Wine Train.

Nestor Milo said...

Mr. Washam,
Are you kidding me? Come on man, relax. I did not insult or threten you. You clearly missed my whole point, sadly. It seems you just extended on your article. You failed to include key words and phrases from my response, such as: "was a great start", "four years ago", "helped to inspire my curiosity", "free". Is she really pointing people in the wrong direction? Are friendly conversations about wine with people that are starting in this thing that wrong direction? I dont think so. Winefolly helped me a lot, it would give me bits and pieces of information that I would then expand upon. When I staryed reading about wine I had 0 guidance, 0. Mr. Washam, like it or not, she is on the big leagues. When your first publication sells out in the first few hours of release, I think It qualifies you. Is that a good thing for the world? I dont know. To answer that, is why you are here, the Piper has to pipe, my problem is with what follows (rats).

Charlie Olken said...

Re Love Story--Erich Segal wrote it very early in his writing career. He first did a very funny play with Joe Raposo, who later earned fame for his songs on Sesame Street and elsewhere.

Love Story was NOT written as a cheap tearjerker, but it was also not great literature. On the other hand, it sold 4.3 million copies so he did make money.

Sorry you did not enjoy it, but a lot of us did. I do have extra reasons to like him and the book. Many of the characters in the book were my college classmates. And his father was the rabbi who married my uncle Pete and aunt Rose. A fact that Segal reminded me of when he called me to the head of the class at the end of the session. I rather thot I was in some kind of hot water, but it turned out that he recognized my last name. By the way, he and Raposo were also friends with Tom Lehrer so he cant be all bad.

Charlie Olken said...

By the way, I had never thot of your common taters as rats, but at least we are rats with a sense of humor.

Samantha Dugan said...

As one of your longest "rats" do I get dibs on all my favorite bits?

I think that Wine Folly person lost the "Big League" status the second she started pandering by pairing peanut butter cups with like fucking Barolo or whatever. That's a con move if ever I saw one. Luckily for me/us, our customers don't bother with her and instead trust our staff for information. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a local shop I know but, well that makes me feel like she really ought to use her...power, for good and not for bullshit.
I love you!

Nestor Milo said...

Hi Samanthaaaa!!!
Glad you could make it. Is this the peanut butter cup and Barolo pairing you where talking about? Because if it is, its completly out of whack.
Cheeeers....
"Peanut Butter Cups
Yep. Peanut butter cups are serious business. With all nutty chocolates, such as almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts, look for a wine that accentuates the nutty flavors. Amontillado Sherry with a Reeses is unforgettable.
Recommended Wines
Amontillado Sherry, Oloroso Sherry and Madeira"

http://winefolly.com/tutorial/5-badass-wine-and-chocolate-pairings/

Mike Meisner said...

Wine Folly might not be the authority in wine writing Ms. Puckette and her fans think it is. For that you need to turn to Vinepair. They completely knock it out of the farm league park with their prolific contributions such as "THE WINE YOU SHOULD DRINK BASED ON YOUR FAVORITE BRAND OF YOGA PANTS" or life changing tips such as, "LIFE HACK: HOW TO POUR CHAMPAGNE WITH NO FOAM".

With these sites in mind I am preparing to announce a new publication to trump both. It will be called "Wine Hacks" and feature only the best and brightest of WSET Level 1 candidates.

Samantha Dugan said...

Nester,
Thanks for the welcome...nice to be noticed round these parts these days. I misspoke a bit, it was the doughnut burger and Pinotage bullshit that sent me over the top. That said, the whole having wine pairings for junky food, candies and cookies and such is just stupid. People, consumers, do it for sure but to have a professional lend any kind of legitimacy to that crap makes the job of those of us in the actual trenches way fucking harder. You have no idea the things we hear, daily, for pairing requests, 'I need a wine to pair with my raw oysters and pesto dish. Has to be from southern Spain, red, and vegan" if you think I'm exaggerating I assure you, that was an actual request a month ago. When the "experts" tell people that there is a wine for every course, song, movie, personality disorder, they are in essence calling bullshit on the truth, and fine with wine being a backseat because you shoved it in the way back and turned the radio up so loud you can't hear it. I tweeted as much and her response, after avoiding my question of if she had actually tasted her recommended "selections" herself was, "haha. so I guess you might have peanut butter cups and Parantoux. rolls off the tongue..." so that's where I got the peanut butter cup part.

That shit makes the work we are actually doing harder. And the reason I got a menu foisted in my face today, from a caterer who, "Checked online" and came up with suggested pairings for my customer, "For the berry and Balsamic salad, you want a crisp Sauvignon Blanc" or as I told the customer, "You could all just eat forkfuls of that and take a bite out of a raw lemon. Same difference" and for the toffee dessert, "You need a Cabernet Sauvignon" my response, "The fuck you do. You NEED coffee but of you want wine you want tawny port"

Just kind of tired of undoing what the pandering cutsie set is doing. I'm trying to actually sell wine and make people fall in love with the flavors, not the idea.

Nestor Milo said...

Hi Samantha,
You are a class act. You are totally right, that was not a good article, and that peanut butter and Parantoux, she was clearly messing with you. But what cheese thing can I say? WInefolly to me is like an old friend, yes it makes stupid mistakes that get you in trouble, but it is also there when you need it. I really hope that you understand my prespective. I truly believe that gastronomy can fix everything. If we can get more people spending more than an hour in the kitchen, eating and drinking better (and affordable), the world would be a better place. I work retail,in a small shop, it drives me nuts seeing people pointing at the bottle with a coin on it and raving about it, or wanting to dring Cali Cab with their morning tea, so I tell them "go ahead drink what you like for now, but it is your responsibility as an inteligent being, to learn about other cultures, to see what that thing that has been produced for centuries its all about". That philosophy, I applied to winefolly, 'good for a start, time to move on'. It is not her fault that the American palate and culture has been getting consistenly raped for so long. I dont know, Sam, this post got to me, it is the first thing I read on this blog, we are human, we get attached to things. I guarantee you that Winefolly has done more good than bad, I'd like to think I am that example. I hope you feel better about those crazy guests, here is something for you:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KE5GGMhmo-M



Samantha Dugan said...

Nestor,
Oh trust me, I knew she was, trying, to mess with me, or brush it off as a joke and I'm not annoyed with her for that. The fact that she didn't answer the question about if she had in fact tasted those things together, the things she put out there for her loyal readers to try, well that was her, well her folly.

I'm all for making things fun and easier for people to learn. I have 20 years of flesh in this game kid. I deal with the consumer, as you do, and articles that dumb wine down to flat out stupid do more harm than good. Period. Is that true of all her work, not a clue as I've no cause to read her work. I am sure she means well but perpetuating a pile of steaming crap isn't helping, it's flat out pandering and I will call it out when I see it, no matter the source. People love her, that's great, they love Olive Garden too and it doesn't make it authentic or correct. I think that's why I agree with Mr. Washam here. Well, that and I love him!

Class I may not have but integrity, that I do, and it ain't for sale.
Thanks foe banter kid! Miss this place when I'm away too long....

Nestor Milo said...

Mmm...Say it gurllll!!!...I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. Good day.

Samantha Dugan said...

Your lucky I didn't spray it! Agreed and cheers to you. Keep fighting the good fight and it's always nice to see new faces round these parts....some of us are crusty. xoxoxxo

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Nestor,
I'm happy to have a new common tater. Thank you for being unafraid to voice your thoughts. I have only a few things to say. My Gorgeous Samantha (regular folks here know how much she and I love each other) said plenty of things with which I completely agree.

First of all, I'm not a fan of links. No big deal. Just me. But it's my blog and I don't like links in the comments because they don't contribute to the discussion, they obfuscate it. So do your best to refrain. Sorry, it's just my general rule, and you're new here.

Second of all, when you compared me to the Pied Piper and my common taters to rats, you were laughably and stupidly off base. If you hang around here, Nestor, you will soon discover that over the years I have been lucky enough to attract some of the best-informed and most interesting and talented people in the wine business. You should be so lucky to one day be as smart and talented as Samantha, Charlie Olken, Thomas Pellechia, Alfonso Cevola, Pam Strayer, Gabe, Dean Tudor, and, well, a dozen others. Google them. They do NOT blindly follow me. They are far more influential and talented than I am. No one was insulted by your comment, only dazzled by your ignorance. It's OK. No worries, but you might have felt you had the last word when all you had was your foot in your mouth.

And thirdly, I welcome everyone here. Unlike Madeline Puckette, I do not delete contradictory or critical comments. Ms. Puckette routinely doesn't allow the comments on her blog of those who DARE to correct her. Which would be a full-time job. She's something of a fraud. Folks like that often help others--they call the "marks." I applaud your loyalty to her, but those of us who have decades of wine experience get grumpy when we spend hours undoing her misinformation and ignorance. When you mentioned that her book was a sellout, you were more right than you know.

Glad to have you here. It's a tough and very smart crowd. Many before you have withered under their gaze. I'm just the ringmaster, the HoseMaster. I'm very proud of the folks who show up here. And, I promise, if you manage to impress the folks who hang around here, Nestor, it will actually help your wine career. At Wine Folly, well, that's the wine world's version of the folks at the Trump rally.

Samantha Dugan said...

I said your in place of you're.....way to win. Ugh. Having a week.

Nestor Milo said...


Woa woa woa woa, woooaa Ron!!!
Coming out swinging!!! I think we established that I am a friendly about two comments ago!!! I'll take it though. Please know that before you get all bent out of shape trying to destroy my reputation (before I have one [I don't care about a wine career, I just want to enjoy the damn thing]) I am not ashamed or intimidated by your eloquently-austerely-piquant marking of territory. Absolute power corrupts absolutly, Ron. You can't deny that ignorance is bliss, but believe it or not I am here to learn. Did you know that Cabernet Frank and Sauvignon Blanc are the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon? I learn than in winefolly.
Good day to you.

Orris Cowgill said...

Cabernet Frank, ha! the Folly Dolly needs some spelling lessons also. If that is where you learned to spell.

Nestor Milo said...

Orrissss,
My man!!! I dont know what you are talking about.
Good afternoon everyone, just woke up from a long night. Had a few questions, I was hoping anyone could help. Do guys know what are the benefits of drinking whiskey and redbull( the cocktail of choice last night)? And also, what is this whole Trump theme that keeps poping up in this blog? Do you really think that Trump is really that bad (for the wine world of course)?
Cheers and good day...

Orris Cowgill said...

That is exactly the point. I'm out of this conservation, its annoying.

gabriel jagle said...

Nestor my dude,

Fight the good fight, but be sure to respect your opponent.

- gabe

Nestor Milo said...

Gabe my brother,

I am a lover, not a fighter. Thank you for the complement, but i don't consider myself an opponent, specially for the folks around this parts. Jeez you probably just ofended some people. I am just looking for a bit of comedy, some wit, food for the mind, and definitely try not to annoy people too much (sorry Mr. Cowgill) I guess satire is more serious than I though. Respect is all I have, what I lack sometimes its context. Tell me Gabe, am I in the wrong blog?
Good day to you.

P.S: awsome profile pic by the way, kids are awsome, you look like a proud dad, are your wines in Fl?

gabriel jagle said...

Nestor,

Sorry about the 'respect your opponent' language, it's a phrase from martial arts. I apologize if it came-off a bit to combative. I also meant what I said about 'fighting the good fight'. I've had my share of disagreements with the folks in this comment section. It's good for everyone to have their opinions challenged. Just remember to listen to others as much as you would like them to listen to you. Especially with this crowd. They've been in the wine biz a lot longer than you and me. They've probably never had to Google 'How is Sparkling Wine made?', which is probably why they don't appreciate winefolly.

If you are looking for a bit of comedy and some food for the mind, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find any wine writer that is better then Mr. Washam. The profile pic is new, so thanks for the compliment. The little man is not even two years old, and he's already taught me a lot. As for my wines, we're barely making enough to supply the city of Portland. But if you know a good distributor in Florida...

Nestor Milo said...

G. J:
Good distributor in Fl? We have more distributors than wine, there has to be one that works for you here, at least one comes to mind. I heard that people in Portland drink like vikings so they probably need it more than us at the moment, as soon as you have some to spare, we'll take it."They never had to google how sparkling wine is made" That is funny man, and a bit crazy, considering that almost all of my wine knowledge comes from the internet. This lovely folks are the wine version of Gandalf.
Good luck in your business, hopefully I can taste some of your wine soon. The kid is a blessing so you are covered there.
Cheers and good day.