Monday, March 4, 2013

Sommeliers Without Borders

I was watching a piece on 60 Minutes a couple of Sundays ago about a group of Christian doctors and nurses, and other personnel, who spend their lives on a medical ship that travels up and down the coast of Eastern Africa tending to the medical needs of poor Africans. They do this for free. It reminded me of the Doctors Without Borders charity, and that inspired today's post which is over at Tim Atkin's blog. After nineteen years as a sommelier, and 35 years in the wine business, I can honestly say I've done nothing worthwhile for humanity. And yet so many of us think wine is inspiring and mystical and magic, and that we possess a kind of knowledge that has actual value. So here's where satire steps in. And how Sommeliers Without Borders came to be.

And, as ever, please feel free to comment here, or over at Tim's.

Tim Atkin, MW's Blog


Thomas said...

I love the closing paragraph.

The last words gave me an idea for a play: Donner at 8?

Samantha Dugan said...

"He can be a pompous dick like the rest of us" killed me.

Quizicat said...

Great! Poor Navajos.

Marcia Macomber said...

Thank Gawd I'd already finished my coffee before reading or I'd have a mess to clean up all over my keyboard and desk. Priceless!

Your closing line is well... Hannibal Lecter-worthy!

The “PLEASE! Need money for a Somm. Food is getting cold. Smile if you love Natural Wine” sign gives me a great idea for a graphic if I can find the necessary pieces... It'd make a nice book cover graphic, Hosé!

Samantha Dugan said...

"I can honestly say I've done nothing worthwhile for humanity" and to this I can only say I wholeheartedly disagree. You remind us to not take ourselves too seriously, when you do write about wine you do so brilliantly, you make us a lot and junk, without payment for your efforts and as someone that has been tremendously moved by your presence in my life...You do plenty for us Ron. I love you.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Well, you've opened up a can of bloggers with that. What about "Guess Who's Coming to Donner?" Or "My Donner with Andre?"
Though I'm old enough now for the Early Bird Donner.

Thanks. Though "Poor Navajos" probably goes without saying.

Marcia Love,
I seem to make a lot of people spit coffee. Man, you people have some nasty habits. My breakfast is usually Meth.

My Gorgeous Samantha,
Those are kind words, Love, but, hard to equate the Peanut Gallery here with humanity. If I make folks laugh at the pretentiousness of wine (hey, I'm no Meg Maker) then I'm satisfied. But as a humanitarian, I'm right up there with Donald Trump.

I love you, too, Gorgeous!

Thomas said...

"But as a humanitarian, I'm right up there with Donald Trump.'

You're fired!

Charlie Olken said...

You are probably right that you have not done anything worthwhile for humanity.

Although I would put the creation of Larry Anosmia as possibly belying that claim. Larry makes all the somm jokes worthwhile.

And, one thing about this latest essay struck a chord with me, and it is echoed in a quiet way by something that Marcia said.

You best work is worthy of republication--and not just here.

I think there is a book of wine fun in your work. It would be a mix of the most creative and amusing (million points, grape essays), pointed barbs, some parts of the MS/MW story lines possibly redrawn to some extent or finished off and essay like today's that are erudite, complex and thoughtfully amusing at the same time.

Today's was classic dry humor with a dash of one-liner of a type that only the best writers can pull off.

I would see some decorative items in the book. You used to decorate your MW stuff and Sam decorates her essays. Marcia has an idea for a cover.

BOOK. I see it.

Samantha Dugan said...

Sir Charles,
I do more expectorating than decorating but thank you, very sweet.

winebookgirl said...

But would the book include comments?

Thomas said...

Amy has a good idea. We could do a collaborative book, with posts and comments. Maybe even give it a catchy title like:

The HoseMaster of Wine Blog Book: He Speaks in Tarrangos.

Unknown said...

that post was fantastic. loved the scene at applebees

my wife is in the medical field, and she keeps me humble by doing something that actually matters. everyone in the wine industry should be so lucky

The Sommeliere said...

"Ron Washam is a recovering sommelier and former comedy writer, who also judges at many major wine competitions, whether he's invited or not. He blogs regularly and rather pathethically at HoseMaster of Wine"

Ron baby, as a recovering sommeliere, let's do the 12 step program together! My only problem is that I am not as funny as you are, but I am a bit cuter!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Puff Daddy,
It would have to be a self-published book, and I type really slowly. But thank you for the support and kind words. I confess that, unlike most of my premises, I really liked the Sommeliers Without Borders conceit.

No comments in the book. They're much funnier than the material they remark upon. Can't have that.

Thanks. Though we in the wine biz are awfully proud of our accomplishments, they don't add up to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Something I try to remember.

Being cuter than me is a very low bar to get over; I'm sure you're much cuter. Forget the 12 Step program, let's just get drunk together.

Charlie Olken said...

OK, Ron. get busy on the manuscript. I predict that there are people here (does the name Amy Cleary ring a bell?) who know something about publishing.

And, yes, Somms W/O Borders was very high class humor--of which there is more than a smidge in your writings. '

You could start by prioritizing your array of writings into categories of worthiness--such as, "The World Cannot Get Along Without This". "This One Made A Few Geeks Laugh", and "Only T. Pellechia Got This One".

I admit that Sam and I and Marcia and anyone else we can drag in to make you keep your nose to the grindstone will probably ask you to do something to complete your MS/MW exertions, but that is what friends are for.

So, get on with it.

Bella Vino said...

But Fred Dame was having none of this. Suddenly his good old boys club was taken over by the unwashed masses. Wine snobs were as common as Franzia Chillable Red. Thunderbolts sparked from his fingertips. All the Somms from around the world were summoned to the hallowed ground of Romanée Conti, where Fred gave them all counterfeit DRC (Gallo Hearty Burgundy laced with Biodynamic Valernum). They went to sleep and never woke up. And Fred Dame with his photographic palate was once again revered as the one true Master of all wine douchery. The hallowed ground at DRC was never the same after the deceased Somms had decomposed into the Terroir, producing a mutant grape that smelled like hubris, and tasted like arrogance.

Thomas said...

"Only T. Pellechia Got This One".

Charlie, it's time for me to make a confession.

When I saw the title to this one, I thought it was going to be about how sommeliers know no bounds. It is to some extent...I guess...I hope...if only to save face...

Yes, there is a book in this, and I would be happy to work on a proposal if Ron is amenable to the idea. Or he could do what everyone thinks is the way toward riches without borders: produce an e-book.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My wife is also very disappointed that I've abandoned "Dial MW for Murder." She's concerned about Avril Cadavril. And Larry Anosmia, who refuses to die. But I don't think I'll be compiling a book any time soon. Just having fun with my odd little comedy gift, and I have little ambition for anything more than that. In fact, I'm barely hanging on to HoseMaster as it is--I'm way overdue for another retirement.

No e-books for me. I don't like the way they smell.

Cris Whetstone said...

Pompous dicks and Donners. Needed that laugh.

Are you sad this organization was not around for you to participate in in your days of glory as a somm?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Oh, no, my friend, THESE are my glory days.

Actually, I spent two years in Louisiana as a volunteer for Sommeliers Without Borders. I was there for a week. Did you know the Creole word for Sommelier is "Gallette du Vin?" Yeah, pretty cool.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Here's a comment from Dave, sent to my email because Blogger is so weird:

"Fer christsakes, Hose, you've gone and done it by putting Fresno on the map. Now everyone will want to move here.

The lines at Applebee's are already out the doors, of course those doors are labeled "Men" and "Women".

Dave (Lodi's looking better)