Monday, June 22, 2009

Interview With A HoseMaster

How did you get started in the wine business?

Many years ago there was a television show called "So You Think You Can Vomit?" that auditioned and judged ordinary folks who believed they could have a career in the wine business. Contestants were asked to display their wine talents in front of a panel of three distinguished judges--Andre Tchelistcheff, Robert Lawrence Balzer and Arlene Francis, who, for some reason, always wore a sequined mask. I appeared on that show in 1963 competing against a young Hugh
Johnson, Jerry Mathers and an orangutan that Mr. Balzer had mistakenly married after a long evening tasting Cognac. The orangutan won (creating another game show scandal as well as ending the monkey marriage to Balzer--Mr. Balzer became a Borneo Again Christian after that) but I was a very popular second place and went on to my distinguished and interminable career in wine.
Robert Lawrence Balzer (a driller, for sure) after his conversion.

What's your favorite grape?

I get asked this question a lot. And it's odd because I don't really like grapes. I like wine. And so few wines taste like grapes these days. What's up with that? Winemakers spend so much time making their wines taste like apples or peaches or blackberries or plums, but not grapes. I don't want them to taste like grapes, but why don't they? Just another sign of the over-manipulation of wine. Sheesh. Just once I'd like to taste the damn grapes in the wine.

What was it like being a Sommelier?

It's pretty much the stupidest job in the world that one can get paid for aside from porn actress. Though the two jobs have a lot in common. I used to put a lot in my mouth that I didn't want to. And I was often naked, but that's a different story. Sommelier must be about the most overrated job on the planet. What do they actually do? Taste a lot of wine, buy a few, then sell them. Sure, you have to be well-schooled when it comes to wine, but it's not like if you don't know the answer to a question a patron asks you about wine you can't just make up an answer. They haven't the slightest idea you're making stuff up. A guy once asked me if his wine had been fined and I told him, "Yeah, for being late to practice." And for some inexplicable reason you are accorded an amazing amount of respect. So, really, it's a dream job. People think you're special because you're a sommelier, that you know the secrets to food and wine pairing, that you can taste a wine blind and identify it down to the cork supplier, that you're sophisticated and worldly when all you really are is a wine porn star and all the wineries are fluffers. Man, I miss that gig.

Are you an M.S. or an M.W?

No, but I am a member of Al Qaeda. Which has a much tougher course to get in. Though it's still judged by Larry Stone.

Have you ever faked an orgasm?

Yes. But only when I'm alone.


Charlie Olken said...

First of all, interviews with bloggists are required to last 20 questions, not five. You owe us 15 more, big boy.

Secondly, Robert Lawrence Balzer was a noted driller long before he met monkeys.

Third, he never drilled Arlene Francis.

Fourth, and this is the most important of all. I was chatting with a group of friends the other day and was listing my favorite blog sites, which I will admit with some embarrassment, includes yours. They wanted me to explain what a Hose is as they all know what a Master of Wine is. It was yet another bit of embarrassment for me at your expense.

And now for the questions that you forgot to answer:

Is Dan Berger a friend of yours?

Did you ever taste god in a bottle?

Chardonnay or Slivovitz?

If you were shipwrecked on a desert island, what tv programs would you miss most?

My mother is funnier than Jim Laube. Oops, sorry, that is not a question. I meant to say, "I know Jim Laube. Jim Laube is a friend of mine. And you, sir, are no Jim Laube".

I have a T-Shirt with a big green clover on it with the words, "Beat L. A." What go you think of that and were you responsible for KG's injury this year which handed the crown to the Lakers?

Which is aging better--1974 Heitz Martha's Vineyard or you?

And for all the marbles, "What, no naked ladies?"

Ashley Lauren said...

An Al Qaeda sommelier? I've still got all of my Burqas from High School. This could work.

Anonymous said...

Hi Charlie

Is friendship with Dan Berger some sort of a litmus test? What does a friendship with him indicate (other than a shared skepticism of bloggers)?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Charlie,

Never put God and Dan Berger in consecutive questions. I get them confused enough as it is. Not as often as Berger does, but often enough.

If I were shipwrecked on a desert island (no applause, please) I would miss "Hello, Larry," Bob Crane's Home Videos, and "Lamp Unto My Feet."

I had nothing to do with KG's injury. I thought he got it from carting around his ego. I know it wasn't from carrying trophies. And I hate basketball.

I'm aging just about like '74 "Martha's," '74 Mayacamas, and '74 Monte Bello, only it takes a LOT longer for my off-aromas to dissipate.

Thanks for the kind words, Charlie, especially,
"And you, sir, are no Jim Laube." Nicer thing anyone's said to me all year.

The naked girls are only in the print edition of HoseMaster of Wine, which only exists in my twisted imagination.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Ashley, Darling,

You went to high school? You're way overqualified to be a wine blogger!

You still have your Burqas? You want fries with that? I'll bet you look HOT in a Burqa. Or anything else. Or nothing.

And, hey, how come you interview Arthur on your blog and not the HoseMaster? I know some big words too.

Anonymous said...

I was going to suggest that Ashley interview Ron and a few others.


Dale Cruse said...

"Bob Crane's Home Videos" - priceless!