Monday, October 29, 2012

The Cure for Dull Wine Reviews Once More

Tasting notes are like those online disclaimers we mindlessly sign—nuisances that nobody reads. You go to a winery website, a box pops up that says, “Clicking here acknowledges that you are 21 years old,” and you check it and move on. How is this actually legal? It could say, “Clicking here acknowledges that you like to smell your finger after sex,” and we’d click it whether it was true or not just to get into the site. And no one seems to wonder about the consequences of signing those online forms that every credit card and every bank makes you sign. We scroll to the bottom, check the box, and hope we haven’t signed away our organs to the Russian Mafia. Though I have a big Wurlitzer they can have. I also wonder, if I have a woman check a box that says, “Checking this box acknowledges that you are over 18 and using birth control,” will that pass muster in court? Does it have to be beforehand, or does during count? Hell, I checked her box that said, “Checking this box acknowledges that I have had a vasectomy and have never given my cat a tongue bath.” Well, in my defense, it was half true. Does that make it legal? And, hey, it was only fair. The cat gave me a tongue bath first.

There’s no incentive to read tasting notes. Do I really care if a Cabernet smells like cassis, or tobacco, or Chaz Bono’s chubby? No. It has a score, that’s all I care about. But all the wine rags spend a lot of energy trying to convince you that it’s in your best interest to read the descriptions. Why? They’re boring. Fortune cookies have fewer words, more literary value, and far more truth, but I don’t want to read a hundred of them. No, I like to imagine how famous writers and thinkers might write about wine. Now that sounds like a damned premise, and about damned time.

Rod Serling on Napa Valley Cult Cabernet 

Imagine this is the last Cabernet Sauvignon on Earth and you hold it in your hands. Tomorrow every last bottle of wine made from that valuable grape will vanish except this one, and what you hold will be the ultimate cult wine, the last great vintage of a once proud grape. First Growth Bordeaux vanishes from the Earth, except for the forgeries up for auction at Acker Merrill. Napa Valley is empty, devoid of real life and meaning-- much as it is now. And you get to give the last remaining Cabernet its only rating. Do you give it a number, or (raising lit cigarette to his lips) puffs? You unlock this wine with the wine key of imagination. You’re tasting a wine made of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas, and lots of new French oak. It’s a first release from a new producer, it’s in a very heavy bottle wrapped in tissue, nestled in a flashy wooden box, an ambitious wine with an ambitious price, $195 a bottle. There’s the signpost up ahead, just you and the winery owner, you’ve both crossed over into…The Twilight Zone. 85 Points.

David Mamet

Listen, I have to give a great review to this fucking wine…I mean it…I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stayed in their fucking guest house…Well, I could, but that doesn’t matter…I don’t owe them shit for that…OK, listen, this is great fucking wine and you need to buy it…What?...Just fuckin’ buy it…You owe me, you owe me…I don’t care…you owe me. I don’t give a shit that you can’t afford it…You can’t afford it because you’re an idiot, a fucking idiot…This is going to be a valuable wine some day… I’m trying to do you a goddam favor and all you want to do is skip to the Best Buys…This wine has more fucking fruit than Fashion Week…It’s more intense than Harold Pinter…fucking Harold Pinter, I’m telling you…Don’t you want goddam Pinter in your mouth?...He tastes like fucking chicken… 98 Points, I swear.

Henny Youngman

I went into a wine shop and I said to the guy, “Give me something for steak.” He gave me his dentures.

I told him I wanted a white wine to drink while I was fishing off the dock. “How about a Jura of your piers?” I bought a case closed.

I had dinner at a fancy restaurant. The sommelier was so stiff there was a chalk outline of him on the floor.

After I finished the first bottle of wine, he asked me if I’d like a second. My wife said, “That’s all he usually needs.”

A guy goes into a bar and says, “Man, I’m old. I can’t even remember how many bottles of wine I drank last week.” The bartender tells him to take his pants off and bend over. “You had five bottles of wine.” “How could you tell that?” “You told me yesterday.”

D. H. Lawrence on Dehlinger Pinot Noir

I felt the urgency of the Pinot Noir as it entered me, its turgid fruit clinging to my palate, its feverish intensity urging me to Pommard clone orgasm. 667, I cried, 114, I didn’t care. I didn’t care. Pomegranate! Raspberry! Cola! But my cherry, where was my cherry? Gone, gone forever. I didn’t want it to finish. No, I cried, stay in me, let me feel your length, smell your woody, earthy fragrance, hold you in my mouth until my warmth releases all that you have to offer. When I’m done you linger, you’re gone, you’re gone, but you linger, you linger…


Jimmy Schnipke said...

D.H. Ron

I am spent. I hope it was as good for you as it was for me.

"I Said Take My Wife----Please." Daddy said...

I know that the longer entries are harder to write and better literature, but thanks for the Henny Youngman. One-liners are still a grand comedic tradition, and I loved "he gave me his dentures".

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Yeah, it was. I smoked one of Samantha's discarded cigarettes afterward.

The literary ones are not harder to write, necessarily. What's harder is finding writers that people actually know, and that I know well enough to quickly lampoon. They all read like failure to me, but I like the challenge of it. I, personally, like the Rod Serling. No idea why. Maybe I can just hear his voice when I read it, that great drone and pacing he had.

The comedians that I do take me back to my comedy writing days when I would have to write material for different people all the time, and have to write in their style. Henny Youngman is fun because he just did stupid joke after stupid joke, short and rapid-fire jokes. I wrote thousands of jokes like that in my day. Usually one out of every twenty was good enough to actually deliver. I don't miss those days, but it's a great comedic exercise, and fun to write about wine in different comic's styles.

Jack Stems said...


Randy Sorenson said...

James Joyce as read by Mister Rogers?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Jack Stems,
Or I could do a whole bunch of good ol' Walt and have a Whitman Sampler.

"I Sing The Medium-bodied Electric..."

I kinda like the Mister Rogers idea--that could definitely turn up in the next installment. Thanks!

Samantha Dugan said...

So turns out, that breath of fresh air I've been seeking for, was here all along. I miss you!

Marcia Macomber said...

Ah, yes! Those damn '21-and-older' checkboxes. They seem unbelievably silly! Must seem that way to all the bazillions of teenagers who think they're so clever to outwit them! Wink, wink!

The Serling is mahvelous! I can immediately hear his voice and the soundtrack going right at the end.

And somehow I knew you'd get in a Pinter reference right at the top. I can hear Joe Mantegna or Kevin Spacey chewing up the scenery delivering this review.

The Youngman is so deliciously refreshing though. I vote for more one-liner comedian reviews: Jack Benny, George Burns et al. Even Steven Wright.

More, please!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,
Not sure how fresh the air is around here, but I miss you, too, Baby.

Thanks for the kind words. The one-liner is Tweeting before there was Twitter. Though I don't Tweet. I do occasionally whistle in my pants, however. I thought about Benny, but his comedy relies on his classic stare and presence. Steven Wright might work. Though he's sort of early George Carlin on downers.

Dean Tudor said...

Oh THAT Henny Youngman...

Ron Washam, HMW said...

You bet your sweet bippy, that Henny Youngman.

Cris Whetstone said...

The DH Lawrence was a bit too close to amateur reality to be funny.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Aren't we all living in an amateur reality?

Patrick Frank said...

For election day: I knew Joe Heitz. Joe Heitz was a friend of mine. This wine is no Joe Heitz.