Monday, April 30, 2012

Wine Terrorists

No one really likes to talk about it. But wineries are afraid. Lives and reputations are at stake. Am I speaking about Antonio Galloni taking over from Robert Parker? No. No one cares about that. The Pope dies, white smoke comes from the Vatican, and Pope Antonio the First carries the scepter and Holy Tastevin. Nothing changes but the size of the ring you kiss. The ring around your guest house bathroom tub. Am I speaking about the slow pace of the economic recovery? No. Wineries quickly adjust, they are remarkably adept at losing money in every sort of economy--it’s what they do. And superbly. Am I speaking about climate change? No. Wineries welcome climate change. The vast majority of them have the wrong varieties planted in the wrong place anyway. Climate change gives them a shot at a good vintage like they’ve never had before. So what is it that wineries don’t want to talk about, yet fear?

Wine Terrorism!  (Cue the theme from “Psycho,” or “Love Story,” you choose)

I wasn’t able to get any wineries to speak on the record about these dangerous and well-organized groups for fear of being targeted. But the fear in their eyes when I brought up the subject spoke volumes. Who are these terrorist organizations, you ask? Here is a brief list of a few of the wine terrorist groups wineries fear the most.

No Added Sulfighters

Led by their notorious founder, Alice “the Gravedigger” Feiring, the NAS has made it their job to ruin wineries that adulterate their wines by adding sulfites. This is a very dangerous group, unafraid to use whatever means necessary to destroy their enemies. The NAS believes that adding sulfites is unnatural, like wearing panties on your head, or eating your own or someone else’s bougars, or getting enjoyment from wine. And it must stop. At first, the NSA used propaganda, spreading the word that sulfites were harmful and caused headaches in white women. They lobbied to have the words “Contains Sulfites” added to wine labels, as though it wasn’t the alcohol that would kill you first. Yet wineries continued to add sulfites at bottling. NAS escalated its attacks, resorting to violence and mayhem, and, even-worse, name-calling. Their first attack used nerve gas. Twenty members of NAS wearing ski masks entered the tasting room at Rodney Strong Vineyards and, while shouting, “Kiss my SO, too!” simultaneously released deadly sulfur compounds—from their pants! Frightened and startled guests panicked, thinking they’d mistakenly landed in the Sierra Foothills, and in the stampede that followed several Millenials were hurt when they inadvertently sobered up and heard how everyone hates them.

In another incident, which wineries and Homeland Security are reluctant to talk about, the NAS filled a windowless van with explosives made from fertilizer packed into cow horns. Only luck and an anonymous tip foiled the NAS plans. Had the van exploded, it would have been a terrible example of Carbombic Maceration.

How far will the NAS go? Wineries are scared. Owners have received late night phone calls from The Gravedigger, most threatening, but a few just asking to see if they wanted to talk and what they were wearing. Bottling line operators report that they’ve had to put their sulfites under lock and key. In one famous case, an NAS operative infiltrated one winery and was able to switch the sulfites to sugar before the wines were bottled. The Rombauers are still scared, though sales of their wines have skyrocketed. The NAS says they will not stop until every offending winery is punished. And offending, well, it’s what most wineries do.

TCA Baggers

The TCA Baggers are an ultraconservative group led by the mysterious Sheldon “Screwy” Stelvin. Very little is known about the group, their activities and whereabouts are kept under a very tight seal--that you’d think would be easy to crack. Their goal is said to be the elimination of all other closures for wine besides the Screwcap. “We believe that a wine’s life begins when it’s first screwed,” Screwy Stelvin wrote in his seminal (semenal?) manifesto, “A Tree Barks in Brooklyn,” “and that those who continue to abort a wine with TCA-laden corks should be killed, jailed, or forced to judge Cab/Syrah blends from Paso Robles.” Dangerous words, indeed.

Cork forests in Portugal have had to install elaborate security systems to keep TCA Baggers (known as "Quercus Clowns" to authorities for their habit of piling 20 members into a Mini-Cooper) from poisoning the ancient oaks. No one is allowed into the forest before he is screened for explosives, hazardous materials and ah-so’s. Even so, there have been breaches in security. In one famous case, a suicide bomber was able to get access to a cork oak forest. His bomb badly misfired, however, and he simply pinged around the forest off the trunks of the oaks for about thirty-five minutes.

Alc Hide-a

The most dangerous of all the wine terrorist groups, Alc Hide-a is led by the elusive and brilliant Osama bin Dealched. His band of terrorists insist that wine over 12% alcohol is against God’s will, a sin that deserves death, and lousy with food. Alc Hide-a is the most sophisticated of the terrorist groups. New recruits are flown to secret training facilities in San Francisco where they are indoctrinated in the evils of high alcohol by terrorist sommeliers secretly pledged to the teachings of bin Dealched. While Homeland Security designates all sommeliers as suspected terrorists, they usually don’t bother spying on them. Sommeliers are notoriously easy to track. Just follow the trail of snoot.

Once indoctrinated, new recruits are taught to infiltrate normal society to spread the word that lower alcohol wines are better, while wines that are luscious, rich and satisfying are unnatural, corrupt and provide far too much fun. Wine, Alc Hide-a believes, is not meant to be fun; rather, it is meant to be brought to the table in order to rob a meal of as much pleasure as possible, joys of the flesh being sinful and the work of Satan. They point to all the dead winemakers in Hell as proof.

Osama bin Dealched is believed to be hiding in the emotional desert of Napa Valley in a remote wine cave. He leads tours for wine club members only.


Thomas said...

"...infiltrated one winery and was able to switch the sulfites to sugar before the wines were bottled. The Rombauers are still scared, though sales of their wines have skyrocketed."

Lovely...and so is much of the rest of it.

Marcia Macomber said...

Magnificent! Kinda been waiting for the HoseMaster to do a post on wine terrorists. (Such a nefarious lot!)

I thought my favorite would be the "Carbomic Maceration" but then I was taken by the "Alc Hide A" group -- so certain they're doing the world an enormous (or even smaller) favor.

Must agree with Thomas, the Rombauer line is precious.

Dean Tudor said...

What about the wine terroir terrorists? Or was that intentional...

As always, great material, needs to be collected into a book or PDF.

Kathy said...

Fantastic! Alc Hide A...brilliant.
Comme d'habitude (as the French say enroute to terrorizing the euro in next week's election).

And, mes amis, terroir is just dirt that is getting washed away with all the rain in France enroute to genetically modifying grapes so they can do the backstroke to China.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

The wine world has many terrorist groups determined to make us see that their way is not only the best way, but the right way. I only touched on a few here. Oh, I don't know, I may risk my life and expose a few more. Or I may not.

And, yes, Dean, I intentionally avoided the "terroirist" pun. Even the lamest wine blogger (a very high hurdle to get over) has used that. I prefer to create my own lame puns.

amy cleary said...

Alc Hide-a is rather wonderful.

Puff Daddy said...

Nice, Ron.

I'll add "Screwy Stelvin" to my list of memorable Hosemaster created characters.