Monday, July 30, 2012



Chapter 6 That Big Spit Bucket in the Sky

The woman I was going to have sex with in the middle of the book was lying in a bloody puddle on the floor of Avril’s office. This didn’t seem fair. Hell, I’d just come out of the closet, like Sally Ride, only I’d gotten burned on re-entry. My sudden entrance had startled Crystal’s killer into discharging his weapon. Also, his gun went off. I slipped in the discharge, and the killer escaped. I knelt down to check Crystal’s pulse. I couldn’t find one in either breast. She was dead. Like print wine publications. Like Cabernet/Syrah blends. Like the look I’d first seen in her eyes.

I sat with her for the longest time. There’s something about spending time with dead people that clears the mind, which is why I like winemaker dinners. Crystal had come to me for help. Four of her lovers had been murdered, and now she had joined them in that Big Spit Bucket in the Sky. It wasn’t my fault, but I felt guilty anyway. I was determined to get to the bottom of this mess, even though my only paying client was lifeless on the floor in front of me, unmoving and cold, like sex with Martha Stewart.

Crystal was dead and it seemed to have something to do with the pursuit of letters after the names of wine jerks. As though having those letters validated your addictive pursuit of the holy grape, proved your importance in a world that just doesn’t care that you know the difference between Pierce’s Disease and tattoo infections, as though an M and a W could make an otherwise arrogant and profoundly lonely person somehow admirable. It made me sick to think about it. The big M.W. and M.S. machines, the prestige-craving lot of them, waving around their credential as though it’s an achievement to know a lot about overpriced, overvalued, fermented grape juice in a world that needs another wine expert like it needs another reality TV star. Maybe killing candidates before they qualified wasn’t such a bad idea. But Crystal was an innocent bystander, and I knew then and there, my eyes filling with tears as though I were judging orange wines, that I had to get to the bottom of this whole rotten business, this crummy, corrupt wine business.  

I must be losing my touch. It seemed like every clue I needed in this case kept escaping my grasp. Avril was still missing. Tiny had left her office with something in his possession I had a hunch was important. And Crystal’s killer had also managed to get away. I put in an anonymous call to the police telling them they needed to check on Avril’s new office carpet, took a few minutes to get rid of any traces of my presence at the scene, and I left. I wasn’t doing Crystal any good just staring at her perfect breasts, magnificent as the twin peaks of Côte-Rôtie, Brune et Blonde, the thought of which made me nervously Guigal, and I didn’t want to have to explain my presence to the cops. I hightailed it out of there like Mitt Romney at an NAACP conference.

I went back to my office on the Healdsburg Square. I guess I was hoping that there might be a message for me from Avril. There were a few messages on my voicemail:

“BEEP…HoseMaster, it’s Crystal. I’m leaving town. I don’t know when I’ll be coming back, or if I’m coming back. Forget about the job. I’ve decided Larry did commit suicide. There’s nothing for you to investigate. Thanks, anyway. Oh, and you’re a lousy kisser. I’ve had better tongue from a deli case.” Unnecessary.

“BEEP…Hello, this is Fred from NothingsBiggerThanMyHead asking for your vote in the Wine Blog Awards. Please, I’m begging you. If you don’t vote for me I’ll…why, I’ll…I don’t know what I’ll do. I’m just so desperate for acclaim… Please vote for me, please, please, please…” Idiot.

“BEEP…HoseMaster, we’ve got Avril. Sheesh, what a pain in the ass. You do her? Man, you’ll stick that thing anywhere. If you want to see her alive again, HoseMonster, drop the M.W. case. We catch you snooping around, gumshoe, Miss Cadavril ends up like cow horns at a Biodynamic winery; she's already full of shit, we'll just bury her." The guy was good, he could use semicolons while talking.

The last caller sounded like he meant business. I admit, my hands began to sweat, my heart pounded and my balls migrated north into the Jarvis cave to turn off the waterfall. And that was from the second message. Jackass.

It was clear that if I was going to keep investigating Crystal’s murder, I was going to have to do it on the sly, and I’d need my family stones. The people I was dealing with meant business and would stop at nothing. Killing Crystal had been an accident, I thought, but not Anosmia and God knows how many others. I needed to find Tiny, find out what he took from Avril’s office.

I was just about to go looking for the big man when the door to my office opened. I turned just in time to watch the body hit the floor.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

My Poodle Nomination--A Post Less Funny Than Usual

I briefly posted this about a week ago, but then decided that it would be better posted after voting for the Wine Blog Awards had ended. None of it matters.

So HoseMaster of Wine has been nominated in the Best Writing on a Wine Blog category for a Wine Blog Award. Honestly, I’m surprised. I have about as much chance of winning as Wile E. Coyote, but, nevertheless, it’s interesting.

What I do here is something of a high-wire act. It was always my intention to bring some laughter and satire to the wine business. You can all be the judge of whether or not I’ve succeeded. Poking pompous people in the eye is a time-honored tradition of satire, and they don’t tend to like it. I do try to choose my targets carefully. It wasn’t always so. In my early days I occasionally picked on some poor souls who were writing wine blogs with very little, or no, appreciable talent. Many of them are still blogging. I’m sure their mothers are proud. And countless others have joined them. It’s a very large recessive gene pool. I set out to just have fun with the whole damned wine business. I have many admirers but far more detractors. I think writing HoseMaster of Wine has actually devalued my status in the business. Telling the truth has a way of doing that. Which says more about the business than it does about my talent, or glaring lack thereof.  

My problems with the Wine Blog Awards are many. I think, first and foremost, that the nomination process is fatally flawed. I don’t have a problem with how many genuinely worthless blogs were nominated in the first round, most, one would assume, self-nominated or nominated by family and friends. That’s the judges’ problem. But it’s discouraging to me that many of the best wine blogs out there never even made it to the first round. How is winning a Wine Blog Award really meaningful if Steve Heimoff, Tom Wark (he may have recused himself, I don’t know), Dr. Vino, Samantha Sans Dosage, not to mention Jon Bonné and Eric Asimov and Charlie Olken (we can argue whether genuine pros should be included, but they are technically eligible) aren’t included? It’s like winning an Oscar against the cast of “John Carter.” I know that none of them care that they weren’t nominated. They shouldn’t care, their talents and voices speak wonderfully for themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I am genuinely honored to be listed on the same page as Randall Grahm, and if I lose by one vote it’s because I voted for him. But the absence of many of the genuinely talented people who slog away for free and actually contribute to the never-ending conversation about wine speaks volumes about the process.

I will say, though, that I’m happy that three of the blogs in my category practice comedy. Randall, when the mood strikes, is a brilliant comic writer. And whoever it is that writes Intoxicology Report, Chris Kassel, has a very funny style, a mind and a comic sensibility that runs roughshod and merrily over everything and everyone in his inebriated path. He’s a bit unfocused, but there’s great fun in his meanderings. He has style and voice. And isn’t wine writing supposed to be like wine itself—full of pleasure and surprise and joy? I think the best wine writing is. Otherwise, as I often point out, it’s just typing.

Awards are for the group presenting them, not the nominees. Like funerals. There are six corpses in my category, vote for the one that you think will fill more pews at the service. The Wine Blog Awards serve to promote the folks giving them, give them some kind of authority and power that they never earned or deserved. Tom Wark began them, marketing dude that he is, and then sold the rights to them. That’s all fine and good, the great American way, but they are hardly awards given by your peers or the public. It ends up being like any other sort of election—who can garner the most votes on FaceBook, who can beg the most effectively on his blog, who can relentlessly Tweet and reTweet about his nomination and who has the most Followers. It’s running for Class President in the fourth grade. It’s childish and silly and undignified. I don’t know about you, but I find Follower a demeaning word. I’d rather have Leaders vote for me. Or maybe three Leaders, which is a double magnum.

It takes an enormous amount of creative energy for me to write this foolishness twice a week and care enough about it to try and make it good. Like every blogger I can think of, I feel unappreciated. Yet being nominated for a Wine Blog Award feels empty. I know that other nominees are honored, and some have written unashamedly asking people to vote for them, as though winning will in any way improve their lives or be a genuine accomplishment. Maybe I’m alone in feeling this. Wouldn’t be the first time. I never started this idiotic blog to be famous or to change the world or to share my journey as I discover the way to end a wine career. I started it to make folks laugh, and I started it to burst a few of the hot air balloons that overpopulate our industry. I’m not crazy or stupid, I know I’ve done very little of either. But I enjoy my failure. One of the secrets in life.

Would I like to win? Sure, who doesn’t like to win? I can always brag that I beat Randall Grahm like a cave-diggin’ Chinese coolie. Definitely some joy in that. I didn't nominate my own blog. John Cesano confessed that he did, and I'm flattered he would go to the trouble. We're not even related. And to the judges who put me in the final mix, well, thanks. You've made a lot of wine bloggers very unhappy.

Competitions of this sort are odious. I was once at a la-dee-dah  tasting of Chateau Margaux conducted by the winemaker, Paul Pontallier. Someone in the audience asked him to compare his 1990 Margaux to the 1990 Latour. “I don’t make my wine to compare to Latour,” he said quietly, “I make Chateau Margaux.”

I don’t write to compare to Randall Grahm or Alder Yarrow or some Wild Walla Walla Woman, I write HoseMaster of Wine. A Wine Blog Award will never explain why.

We now return to our regularly scheduled garbage.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

So You Want to Be a Wine Judge


Many consumers see wines advertising medals from wine competitions and have little idea what those medals mean or how they were arrived at. They do know that Gold is better than Silver, Silver is better than Bronze, and Bronze is better than any wine with any sort of pastry on the label. Really, stay away from Cupcake, Layer Cake and the newly released Urinal Cake. I’m OK with orange wine, but yellow? In this edition of the Basics of Wine Appreciation we’ll talk about wine competitions and their place in the wine business. As required of a wine judge, I am writing this completely blind and in a white coat. I may have forgotten to take my Thorazine. Which makes me slightly manic and sing “Oh, de Miltown Ladies sing dis song, Doo-dah Doo-dah.” This will make more sense as you read about wine judgings.

What is the purpose of wine competitions?

Like any competition, it is to determine winners and losers. Winners are awarded medals by the losers with spit buckets. In wine competitions, each wine is judged individually. Therefore, many wines win gold medals. They tried this system in the Olympics once, but gave it up when 20 of the 80 gymnasts wouldn’t fit on the Gold Medal podium. All those girl gymnasts up there looked like a scene from Munchkinland. Every time I watch gymnastics at the Olympics, I expect a house to fall on them. Awarding medals is the main purpose of wine competitions, but there are others. For example, they also provide a place for our endangered wine judges to get together and reproduce. There is a National Registry of Wine Judges which carefully monitors the husbandry of the herd so that inbreeding can be avoided. It’s been mildly successful.

How are the wine judges chosen?

Each wine judge is carefully screened for experience, knowledge, STD’s and felony drunk driving convictions. A minimum of three out of four is required. Then each competition tries to select its judges from different sectors of the wine business—a few wine writers perhaps, a couple of enology and viticulture professors, some sommeliers, and a handful of people no one has any idea what they’re doing there. These are usually bloggers. This cross-section of the business allows for differing opinions about what each wine merits, and often lively discussions. At a recent competition, a wine judge was stabbed with a homemade shiv made from a room service breakfast sausage by a fellow judge for arguing that the nail polish smell in the Syrah was “perfect with finger foods.” Judges are also chosen for their willingness to allow other judges to raid their Honor Bar after Last Call.

Why do wineries enter wine competitions?

Winning a Gold Medal, or a Double Gold (which is simply a Gold with extra meat and cheese), can boost sales of a wine that was nearly dead in the water. Sort of like when Olympian Greg Louganis hit his head on the diving board. Competitions are a sales tool that can be very effective if marketed correctly. Say you enter a Folle Blanche into the Waco International Wine Competition and Weenie Roast and win a Bronze. Yours was the only Folle Blanche entered, therefore your wine is “Best of Class 2012 Waco Wine Competition!” Bingo! There’s a BevMo 5¢ Sale in your future. The biggest floor stack since Dolly Parton passed out on her bathroom floor. It’s totally worth the price of entering the competition. However, winning a Bronze Medal for your high-end Zinfandel is like getting 98 points from Wine and Spirits—no one cares.

How are the wines judged?

The judges sit at a table and are served each flight of wines by the wine competition volunteers—there are many transients and drifters. Among the judges, not the volunteers. The wines come about a dozen at a time, already poured into very cheap glasses so as to give the judges the feel of being at home. The judges never see the bottles of wine they are evaluating. The judges quietly evaluate each wine knowing only the variety and vintage. Well, quietly if you don’t count grunts, groans, cellphones, dog whistles and all the instruments in the bodily orifice band. When all the judges have finished awarding each wine either Gold, Silver, Bronze or WTF?, a discussion ensues about each wine and a consensus is reached. Majority rules. So if three of the five judges decide the wine is worth a Gold Medal, it is awarded a Gold Medal even if the other two judges wouldn’t serve it to Jay McInerney’s overworked divorce lawyer. The best wine of each category, as determined by the judges, is then sent to the Sweepstakes round where every judge has a say in which wine is awarded Best in Show. Fifty-five wine judges can’t be wrong. Hey, it wasn't wine judges who ruled that corporations are people. No one who has ever worked for one would say that. Only dopes in robes.

How much credence should I give to Wine Competitions?

Sure, you watch FOX News and think it’s real. You watch American Idol and think it’s not fixed. You bought Spanish wines from The Wine Advocate. You think you have more than 350 friends because you’re on FakeBook. You think natural wines taste better. You’re in the Wall Street Journal wine club. You believe Apple isn’t selling your every move tracked by your iPhone to marketers. Is discernment your strong point? Hey, it’s only wine. Judges are human, except the MS’s, and make mistakes. And are happy to pass them along to you. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Sample Policy

HoseMaster of Wine™ is happy to accept any and all samples. Samples will be consumed in a timely fashion, particularly lingerie. With proper notice, wine can be judged after having been poured through pantyhose, a process superior to decanting, especially if the pantyhose are being worn at the time. It definitely improves the L’Eggs.

Please be aware that HoseMaster of Wine is entitled to samples from you, and it is foolish not to believe so. Not only does HoseMaster of Wine receive hundreds of thousands of hits on a centennial basis, assuring that your wine will be favorably viewed by my immediate family and people searching the web for “fat guy’s butthole,” you can also rest assured your wine will be proudly reviewed accompanied by a crappy photo taken with my ten-year-old cellphone. Your winery’s Social Media Director (hint: look for her sitting outside in the picnic area sexting Tim Fish to get him to milt all over your new releases) will tell you that the Millenials love that immediacy, with its implied lack of detail and hard facts.

Please remember to include fact sheets and other winery propaganda along with your submitted samples. HoseMaster of Wine understands that wineries are buried beneath mountainous piles of this rubbish and is happy to dispose of it promptly for you. Please include all previous wine reviews for your samples so that HoseMaster of Wine will not be embarrassed by an inconsistent review. HoseMaster of Wine is not responsible for having an adequate background in wines of your appellation or variety, but will certainly strive to appear knowledgeable by plagiarizing Wikipedia and the wine’s back label, the wine blogging industry standard.

Wines are reviewed on different scales according to how the HoseMaster of Wine is feeling the day the wines are tasted, or by the prestige of the winery that has sent the samples. Prestigious Napa Valley wineries, for example, are judged on the 94 Point Scale, 94 being “Recommended” all the way up to 94, which is “Highly Recommended, a Must Have.” White wines are judged on the 12 to 16 Point Scale, a subset of the 20 Point Scale. White wines have no business being scored more than 16 points, and HoseMaster of Wine will not compromise the integrity of the blog to do so. Exceptions include Chateau d’Yquem, which is white, but Social Register white, not the trailer trash white all the other plonk is. Let’s face it, Grüner Veltliner is the result of a cross between first cousins and still wears adult diapers, which are noticeable in the aromatics. Wines are occasionally graded, and in keeping with the notable decline of the country’s educational system, grades are intentionally inflated. Thus, a C- wine will likely receive an A-. Blog readers understand that A- wines are crap, but your promotional material will reflect the highest score plausible. A+ wines only a cretin would submit to a wine blog.

HoseMaster of Wine prefers to taste wines as part of a junket. In order to be fair, HoseMaster of Wine accepts all junkets and is pleased to affirm that the wines from everywhere on the planet are A- wines. Please submit a list of other bloggers and journalists who will be accompanying HoseMaster of Wine on the junket. Most journalists are unacceptable traveling companions because they always ask to borrow money. HoseMaster of Wine reserves the right to choose his roommate if single suites are unavailable. What, are we going to fucking Lebanon to taste wine? Where’s my suite? Roommates must be willing to tuck the HoseMaster of Wine in at night while quietly singing, “You Are My Sunshine.” And then there should be no crying over spilt milt.

Please remember when submitting samples to HoseMaster of Wine that it is unlikely that you will receive any sort of acknowledgment. This is professional courtesy on your part. Please do not email HoseMaster of Wine asking if your samples were received and tasted. It’s none of your goddam business. The wine is mine now. The wine review is proof that your wine was received. Eat me.

If you are unhappy with a review on HoseMaster of Wine, get in line for the exclusive Go Fuck Yourself Club™. All wines are tasted under controlled conditions, usually after several good wines paid for have been polished. HoseMaster of Wine does not taste wines blind but will clearly state otherwise as a courtesy. Your marketing people at Foolsome and Company sent your wines in the belief that HoseMaster of Wine has limited knowledge and experience of wine and will give a good review simply because otherwise the free wine pipeline may dry up like Betty White’s poop chute. While this is usually the case, how much did your wine suck that you don’t like the review? Please don’t email HoseMaster of Wine with your complaints. Simply fire your winemaker. Your reason? He makes wines you need to send to wine blogs to get positive reviews.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Dullness of Wine Reviews Cured!

Is there anything more boring to read than wine reviews? OK, besides Jonathan Franzen. If wine itself were as boring as the average wine description, we’d all be drinking Nyquil to get high. Which makes a helluva Grasshopper, by the way. Wine critics assign numbers to give us a quick impression of how much they like or don’t like a wine, and then somehow manage to write a description to accompany it that is actually duller to read than the number. How the hell can you be duller than “89?”  Yet Wine Spectator does it dozens of times each issue. And the descriptions are all interchangeable. If the descriptions got scrambled before the magazine went to press, how would anyone know? They don’t match the wines they belong to in the first place, what does it matter? And nobody, but the winemaker, reads them. Until they appear on a shelf talker at BevMo and then it’s the better alternative to speaking to one of the clowns that works there.

What if actual writers had been writing wine reviews all along? Aha! The damned premise finally appears. And none too soon.

Dorothy Parker on Zonin Prosecco (79 pts)

I was hoping the bubbles
Would subsume my troubles
But, alas, this Prosecco
Is frizzante dreck-o.

You’re better off drinking
A four dollar Chardonnay
Than mass produced urine
From Valdobbiadene.

Men seldom make passes
At introduced gasses.

Edgar Allan Poe on Chateau Montus 2009 Madiran (94 pts)

It’s the darkness of Tannat I’m attracted to, the impenetrable and consuming blackness that reflects the human heart. It speaks of death, and pairs nicely with venison. The Tannat is evil with power, drenched in tongue-torturing tannins. It curls up in your mouth like Cerberus, preventing your palate from escaping its Hell. Will it age? The question is, will you? I’d give the wine six years in the cellar. Your death will come much sooner. You’ll both rest in a cold, damp place for a long time. One of you will be alive when you go in.

Raymond Chandler on Mount Eden 2007 Estate Chardonnay (95 pts)

You know the kind of wine I’m talking about. It’s the third bottle you’ve opened that night, and the first sip of it has you staring at your wife’s neck while you fondle the knife on your waiter’s corkscrew. The night is warm, and through your open windows you can hear the sound of the drunks gathered at the local wine bar. You promise yourself you’ll open your wife’s neck like a Master Sommelier, never setting her down on the tablecloth, if you hear the word “minerality” one more time from those brix dicks. And you’re drinking the kind of wine that makes you want to hear it. It’s a moment too late before you realize the words you just heard were “Min...nesota oak.” Damned wine geeks, now you’ll have to start dating again. Pair with oysters, but be careful with the knife.

Lenny Bruce on 2009 Bryant Family Cabernet Sauvignon (6 pts.)

I mean, who drinks this shit? You spend a year growing the Cabernet up on some fucking mountain in Napa Valley, pay a bunch of Mexicans to pick it, then spend another two years waiting for it to be ready. You know, I’m thinking, why does everything we get high on come from Mexicans? It’s like they’re a whole race of drug fairies. And why wait three years for a bottle of wine? Shit, you can get high on horse in a couple of minutes, and it’s cheaper than this stick-up-your-ass Cabernet. What do you eat with it? Your own vomit. What else?

William Faulkner on Lodi Zinfandel (82 pts)

I see it too now, the blood color, warm like the night, and I can smell it as well, the smell of the old barn burning, the barn where he’s hiding. That matchstick aroma, like the fulvous sulfur of our preacher’s Hell there to blacken us for eternity as it burns our sins into our skin, surrounding me now. I want to walk into the woods to escape, but I don’t know the terroir, it’s invisible to me, and apparently to the winemaker as well. Matchstick or not, I raise the liquid to my lips. I drink, and it transubstantiates, not into our Lord and Saviour, but into Oreo cookies, white surrounded by black. I remember who’s hiding in the barn. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sage Blogging Advice From the HoseMaster After 199 Posts

According to Blogger, this is my 200th HoseMaster post, at least in this incarnation. I stopped being funny about #23. Every single day I wonder why I do this. I think I finally know the answer—the retirement package. It’s so generous. The same pay as I’m making now, and free health care at any emergency room. And I’ll receive a plaque in the Wine Blogger Hall of Fame, currently under construction in Hell, thanks to a generous grant from Robert Parker, who is planning to move there in the near future from his own private Hell. 

For those of you new to blogging, I thought I’d share some of the hard-earned wisdom that has come my way via HoseMaster of Wine. I wish someone had warned me about this stuff before I started typing. It would have saved me a lot of grief, heartache and hate mail.


It’s depressing. Especially if you read about yourself here. That’s really depressing. In the beginning, I got very excited if someone mentioned my name in their blog. Now it’s like when they call your name for jury duty—you know you’re in for a long, boring ride. Once in a while, I used to Google my blog’s name. It’s a pretty distinctive name, shared by a band, a plumbing company and a bunch of black guys who gangbang white girls. I’m not making that up. I’d sue them, but I’m basically scared of them. They each have several inches on me. I mean, they have a longer reach. No, wait a minute, it’s because I once belonged to Big Brothers. Oh, I don’t know. But I’ve stopped Googling my blog name. When I read what others say about me on their blogs, I’m stunned. Not by what they say, but with how poorly they say it. I like a nasty remark as much as the next guy, but, for God’s sake, it should have some wit. What’s the difference between the Wine Bloggers Conference and the morgue? Toe tags. Though I think Randall Grahm has one. And, anyway, writers should never read their reviews. I seem to be much loved and much loathed. But I knew that without reading my name elsewhere. Take my advice, do not read about yourself. And while you’re at it, don’t read about me either.


There was a time when I wanted the word “monetize” banned from wine blogs, but the most annoying word now is “journey.” Yes, life is a goddam journey, is that the most original idea you’ve had during your damned journey? No one cares that you’re going to write about wine and that you want us to join you on your journey to discover it. REALLY. No one gives even one little teeny-tiny yeast fart. We might care about your journey into nymphomania, or into gay Scientology, or maybe into soft tacos, but your journey to discover wine is about as thrilling as a Tony Danza film festival. The minute people see the word “journey” in your About Me profile, they leave your site. It’s a dead damn giveaway that the last original thought you had died of starvation. If you currently have that word on your blog, get rid of it. It’s part of your blog journey.


All that crap about “I have 30,000 hits a month” is just that. Crap, and mostly aimed at getting free stuff. There are dozens of ways to measure the number of visits to a blog, and each gives a vastly different number. It’s like the paid attendance at a baseball game—who cares? Eighty per cent of them aren’t paying attention anyway. Those 30,000 hits a month?—picture all those empty seats behind home plate when you watch a game on TV and it’s declared a sellout. Most of the people who visit wine blogs—empty seats. The vast majority of wine blogs—sellouts.


If you’re lucky enough to get comments, remember that the comments are not about you, they are about the commenters. This is unlikely to be a problem for you. Recently, I looked at a bunch of the nominated Best New Wine Blogs, and only once or twice did I see a post that had more than 1 comment, and that was usually from WineHarlots, so that doesn’t count. (By the way, DO NOT look at those nominated Best New Wine Blogs, especially if you’re pregnant or will be operating heavy machinery. They’re either written by Aussies on Quaaludes, or perhaps as Quaaludes, or mostly plagiarized from Wikipedia.) Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the regular cast of misfits, evil geniuses and misanthropes who comment here. But I’m just the ringmaster, here to oversee the three rings where they display their polished acts. Just stay out of your commenters’ way and they’ll be happy.


Wine Bloggers

Monday, July 9, 2012

What We're Reading

Compiled by the editors of HoseMaster of Wine

1WINEDOODY: The Dude offers another wine quiz, this time asking readers to identify the three major causes of wine headaches (Hint: Histamines, drinking too much, and opening Champagne with your teeth). In a video post, the Dude lectures other bloggers about not being douches, which is what a douche would do. And don’t miss his account of his visit to Harlan Estate where he and Paul Roberts hide behind a Salmanazar.

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Jay McInerney talks about a new trend in wine he’s excited about--drinking it out of the skulls of poor people. Tasted blind against the same 1990 Burgundy out of Riedel crystal stemware, he prefers the beggar’s coconut, saying, “…it was deeply satisfying knowing this was a vessel that had never seen Burgundy, not to mention First Class on Singapore Airlines.” As an added bonus, he reminds us, wine skulls are dishwasher safe. Lettie Teague discovers Wine Away.

WORLD OF FINE WINE: Jancis Robinson, MW tastes the latest crop of orange wines and wishes there’d been a frost in the damned groves. Andrew Jefford says that it’s time we get back to appreciating wine for it’s true purpose, getting pissed and waving our bangers at the Buckingham Palace guards. Hugh Johnson weighs in on something, it’s not clear what, but it seems important. Tom Stevenson conducts a vertical tasting of Veuve Clicquot and suggests it might be useful for cooling off dressage horses at the upcoming London Olympics.

DR. VINO: As usual, more links than Jimmy Dean’s funeral buffet. Also, details about Robert Parker’s asking Jay Miller to return and review wines from Mexican drug cartels. And news that Chateau D’Yquem sells a bottle of Semillon for more than $500!

WINE SPECTATOR: Matt Kramer says that it’s time we get back to appreciating wine for it’s true purpose, getting hammered and waving our kielbasas at airport security. James Laube suggests his favorite reds for kielbasa. Harvey Steiman rates hotel honor bars in his Dora the Explorer pajamas. Tim Fish writes about the joy of cork trivets.

STEVE!: STEVE! debunks Biodynamics, calling it pseudoscience based on mysticism and faith. He goes on to rate 50 new California Cabernets on the 100 point scale, yet another pseudoscience based on mysticism and faith.

PALATE PRESS: Don’t miss the fascinating article on the newest trend in restaurant wine lists—placing the iPad wine list on the chair and having the customer butt-pick his wine, written by one of Palate Press’ regular buttpickers. A sexy look at the reproductive cycle of grapes, glassy-winged sharpshooters, barn cats and Ben Flajnik by Meg Houston Maker. Not sure who wrote it. And reviews of dozens of wines that will make you lose the will to live.

WINE ENTHUSIAST: Publisher Adam Strum answers his most frequently asked question, “What the hell is up with my hair?” A year-long investigation by Virginie Boone reveals that the 100-year-old vines in Lodi are actually only 25 years old but look so ancient because of the fucking heat. And Paul Gregutt introduces us to Oregon’s best-kept secret—most of the Pinot Noir vineyards are actually Zweigelt.

SERMONTATION: Tom Wark weighs in on the minerality debate with his opinion that, “…wines don’t taste like minerals, stupid, those are your fillings.” He also congratulates the winners of the 2012 Wine Blog Awards, somehow knowing who they are already. And don’t miss his rant about how electing a Mormon President will be bad for the wine industry unless he picks a drunk as a running mate, but will Limbaugh accept?

ON AND ON AND ON AND ON AND ON THE WINE TRAIL IN ITALY: Alfonso Cevola is the master of nostalgia, and in his current post he takes us back to how hard it was to sell wine when he first got into the business, before the invention of shoes.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The HoseMaster's Sneak Preview of New Wine Films

I’ve spent the past week viewing new films which have wine as their subject. Ever since the success of that idiotic “Sideways,” a stupidly formulaic buddy film that expects us to believe that those two guys are best friends, that ten-year-old Byron sparkling wine still has fizz, and that Sandra Oh can out-act her last name, filmmakers have seen wine as lucrative subject for a film, like superheroes, vampires and fart jokes. (I’ve always wondered, does blood-sucking cause flatulence? Remind me to ask Jay McInerney.) Several major studios sent me DVD’s of their upcoming theatrical releases. Here are my reviews.


Merging the Superhero genre with wine, director Francis Ford Crapolla tells the tale of Larry Mephitis, who volunteers to undergo a top secret assignment to sell overpriced Napa Valley Cabernets made by NBA players (Bartles and LeBron James, Kobe Bryant Family Vintage CryBaby Red, Alley Oopus One…) in China. Mad scientists (a memorable cameo by Randall Grahm as Rudolph Steiner—that other fraudulent Rudy) transform Mephitis into Mercaptan America!! Through some rather labored plot devices that involve the French Laundry changing its name to Chinese Laundry and serving monkey brains to James Laube, which raises his I.Q., as well as an amazing fight scene between Mercaptan America!! and Yao Ming that is remarkable for Yao’s nutsack being used for speed boxing, Mercaptan America is smuggled into China. Once there, our hero convinces the gullible Chinese that “those aren’t mercaptans, my friends, that’s the very smell of roadside America itself!” Apparently, there wasn’t much of a budget for the special effects (created by Industrial Light and Magic Johnson), so you’ll have a hard time believing those expensive Napa Cabernets are in such lightweight bottles. I also had a hard time swallowing Eric Asimov (as one would) as Mercaptan America!!’s love interest, though he positively glows.

TOP 100

You knew it was only a matter of time before Aaron Sorkin wrote a film about the wine business. In his signature Paddy Chayefsky Lite style (all the indignation, half the wit), Sorkin’s script is a vicious and predictably pedantic look at how Wine Spectator chooses its Top 100 Wines of the Year. Director Alan Smithee coaxes a brilliant performance from Billy Gardell (“Mike and Molly”) as Marvin Shanken, and the entire ensemble cast, who portray the reviewers for Wine Spectator, does a remarkable job making you feel like you’re right there making the Top 100 list with them. That is, you’re certain they don’t give a crap about you. Sorkin’s dialogue crackles. There’s a wonderful scene between James Laube (great casting of Marcel Marceau, nearly life-like) and Tim Fish (Don Knotts) which concludes with Fish speaking the memorable Sorkin lines, “California wine isn’t the greatest wine in the world, that’s just what we’re paid to sell the suckers. We’re shills, patsies, bought and paid for noses who assign crooked numbers in crooked fashion. And I, for one, couldn’t be prouder.” Ooh, that Sorkin is a genius.


From France comes this lovely little film about a young boy who decides at an early age he wants to become a sommelier.  Recognizing his gifts, the Académie du Sneer in Paris grants the young CoCo a full scholarship. Graduating Summa Cum Elvis, CoCo then begins his studies for an M.W. In his tasting group is the alluring Chloe Vougeot, but CoCo is unsuccessful at getting past her walls and, downcast, he begins his slow descent into alcoholism, fortuitously a requirement for the M.W. Secretly, he begins to worship Chloe Vougeot, even going so far as to have her name tattooed on his meat thief. Well, up to the “l”-- he’s a sommelier after all. Chloe will have nothing to do with him until he is a working sommelier. CoCo finally passes his M.W. exam; in a suspenseful scene he successfully identifies an old Sancerre by meowing. CoCo then manages to regain his sobriety by dedicating his wine cellar to Grüner Veltliner, Prosecco and Tannat in a Can. He is hired by a Three Michelin Star restaurant in Lyon at the tender age of 22 and proceeds to overhaul the wine list and sell only natural wines. He is given a medal by the Sommelier Society for “Arrogance in the Face of Customer Service.” Chloe finally throws herself at CoCo Vin, and after a passionate and erotic lovemaking scene where Chloe traces his tattoo and wants to know, “Where did the Vou  geot?,” the two are seen honeymooning in South Africa, CoCo’s trademark lip curled. The moral of the story? Sneer, and yet safari.