Monday, February 20, 2017

Sam Euthanasia--The World's Oldest Wine Critic


“I remember when the ’45 Bordeaux were first on the market,” 95-year-old wine critic Sam Euthanasia tells me, “the tannins were harder than Rubik’s Cube for the color blind. I said then, and I’ll say it now, those wines will never be drinkable. I had the ’45 Mouton just the other day. Tasted like goddam Polident. It stained my teeth, which weren’t even in my mouth at the time.”

If your business is the business of wine, then you know Sam Euthanasia. He’s been the most powerful wine critic in America, and the world, since 1952, and shows no signs of slowing down. A favorable score from Euthanasia means certain success for any new winery, while a scathing review can doom even the most famous. “I fart and they add more sulphur,” he has famously said. During my interview, he demonstrated. “What does that remind you of?” he asked, “Yellow Tail Shiraz?” Indeed.

Though there have been questions about Euthanasia’s faculties, he says any fears are unfounded. “95 is the new 70—just like wine ratings!” In a recent issue of his influential publication “The Wine Euthanist,” Euthanasia rated nearly 75 Napa Valley Cabernets 100 points. “What can I tell you,” Sam said to me, “it’s the greatest vintage of my life. You can’t be scared to give 100 points to a wine. I don’t care what anyone says, wine critics today are pussies. Afraid to give 100 point scores, like that devalues ratings. Imbeciles. When I was a young wine critic, wines pretty much sucked. They had more faults than the Trump Cabinet only they didn’t make you want to hurl. Or move to a real democracy, like Myanmar. Now I taste a vintage like 2013 in Napa Valley, and, hell, the wines all taste great. They all taste the same, but they all taste great. What’s a hundred points, anyway? It doesn’t mean a wine is perfect. I don’t know where people get that idea. Honestly, 100 points just means I don’t give a fuck what you think.”

The internet has revolutionized the business of selling wine. Where once it was only Sam Euthanasia’s opinions that mattered, now there are endless resources and ratings for consumers to consider. And there are a lot of surveys that conclude that Millennials no longer look to the elderly for their wine buying advice, they look to their peers. “Hell,” Euthanasia rants, “I don’t care about internet surveys. There are surveys on the internet that prove monkeys masturbate more than winemakers, and nobody believes that. If Millennials want to ignore the 65 years of experience that I bring to the spit bucket, that’s just fine and dandy. I don’t need them. I’ve got 50,000 subscribers to my website! Though, I have to admit, their average age is the Jurassic. Only dinosaurs care what I think. But that’s the wine business. We like our wines young, and our critics old. I think of myself as an aged Claret. More often than not, I suck. But there are no refunds.”

Euthanasia’s enduring power and influence baffle his fellow wine critics. “I wish he’d die already,” James Laube told me. I think he was talking about Euthanasia, but, hell, now that I think about it, maybe not. His head was down on the bar and I may have misunderstood. Robert Parker told me, “Sam is a powerhouse. Amazing. And to think he’s doing all that on his fifth set of kidneys, well, I stand in awe. His doctor told me his liver is the size of an iguana. When he dies, his tongue is going to the Smithsonian, right next to Monica Lewinski’s and Nixon’s forked one.” Hugh Johnson simply told me, “Sam’s taste buds died in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.”

Sam doesn’t think much of today’s wine critics. “Most of them, they don’t even taste blind. They sort of imply they do, but they don’t. I taste blind. I can’t see a fucking thing. And I taste deaf, too. I can’t even tell if it’s a cork or a screwcap. And I’ve been tasting out of the same wine glass for forty years! So you know it’s not Riedel. That crap is more brittle than my hips. Oh, that reminds me, I need to wash my glass this month.”

“There are no real wine critics today,” asserts Euthanasia. “They’re all phonies. They have agendas. They don’t rate wines for the common person. They try to taste everything, they try to rate every wine available, but spend more time on the wines from their advertisers. It’s all a game to them. Slick lifestyle crap. Wine as a fashion accessory. ‘Look, a bottle of Harlan Estate makes your balls look bigger.’ The only balls I care about anymore are the tennis balls on the tip of my walker.”

If you really want to get Euthanasia wound up, all you have to do is ask him about whether or not he is losing his senses of smell and taste. Most experts agree that by the age of 70, smell and taste have significantly degraded. What must they be like at 95? Wouldn’t the biggest, sweetest, most intense wines get the highest scores? Just like the volume on Euthanasia’s television is perpetually set at “Heavy Metal?”

“Why are you asking me?” he rants. “All the other damned bigshot critics are nearly as old as I am. Parker, Laube, Steiman, Jancis, Olken—they’re old enough to be my kids. Nobody asks them about how degraded their olfactory bulbs are. Trust me, their warranties ran out years ago. They’re NOT running on fumes. And so you know, I had a new olfactory bulb implanted. It’s state of the art. It’s an LED olfactory bulb. Uses a lot less energy.

“And, besides, I don’t need to be able to smell and taste that well to accurately review a wine. In fact, it’s a huge advantage to have a poor sense of smell and taste when you’re judging wine. It really helps when you review natural wines. Oh my God, does it help. People think it’s hard to review wines. It’s not hard to review wines! Every jackass with a smartphone is reviewing wines now. ‘Wow, look at me, I have 3000 reviews on CellarTracker!’ That doesn’t make you a wine critic. That makes you a pretentious prick. Which is the first step to being a wine critic, but only the first step.

“Everybody thinks I should retire just because I’m old and think my house doesn’t smell like cats. I only have nine, how much can they smell? A great wine critic doesn’t need his full set of senses. Three out of five is plenty. It’s experience that matters, not performance. Which is what old guys always say. I’ve gone beyond judging wines for subtlety and nuance. Honestly, I judge them now for revenge.”

8 comments:

Steve Lay said...

About Sam Euthanasia, well where does one start. Another well done mime or tome. Luckily HoseMaster of Wine has a vast array of acquaintances with in-depth understanding of wines and wine critics. Sam is clearly in the right concerning his views and such views seem to be backed up with reason, perception and scientific facts. Some of the critics noted by Sam Euthanasia, have got to be at least at that magic olfactory age of 70. But as long as some producers are willing to give up wine and pay for a blind tasting then I say go for it; a whole publishing industry is counting on such.

Ziggy said...

So, let me guess, Sam will eventually wound up in Hell?

David Larsen said...

This was one of your funniest posts ever. Already, i am looking forward to reading it again. Will share it with my fellow wine geeks!

gbgolfer71 said...

SO MANY Great Lines!!! Wonderful column! What's next? Masturbating monkeys from Myanmar?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Steve,
Long time, no common tater! Welcome back.

I was thinking the other day about who might be the oldest wine critic working when my HoseMaster brain said, "Who cares? Make one up." So Sam Euthanasia came to me. Crusty old fart. I went and found the photo first, and then his voice became clear to me. I'll never figure out how my twisted mind works.

Ziggy,
If he ever dies.

David,
Thank you, my friend. Sharing is good! I share your Soos Creek wines with my friends.

gbgolfer,
Nice alliteration! Maybe not masturbating, but sitting at typewriters and magically coming up with "Wine Folly."

David Pears said...

Damn, this is accurate, punch-laden and one of your very best pieces, HMW!
I'm with Ziggy, but might Sam be the stranger in the Lodi wine bar? Or is he the father of Larry? Grandfather of Lo Hai Qu? Or just sugardaddy for both?

Thanks,

David

Ron Washam, HMW said...

David,
I'm not sure where Sam fits into the HoseMaster universe. He won't end up in Wine Critics in Hell, that's for sure. I don't know who the Stranger is yet. Or the bartender. I'm flyin' blind in Hell.

I might bring Sam back again. I had fun with his Voice. Though I do wish Lo Hai Qu would come back to me. I sort of miss her. And I definitely have to get to Act 7 of WCIH. So many pieces, so little time...

Fenton said...

Yes, brilliant. I love Sam. A fine addition to the the Hosemaster Pantheon of odd balls I want to hang out with. But we need to know WTF is going on with Lo Hai Qu. We have all been worried that she may be deported by Trump's brown shirts. She's here on a green card, right? And she has a criminal record after that fiasco with Loqueesha and Shizzangela on the Napa Wine Train. Seriously, this must be addressed.