Monday, March 2, 2015

How to Enjoy Wine--A Simpleton's Guide

Wine might be the most difficult beverage on Earth to enjoy properly. Coffee is easy. No matter what coffee “experts” tell you, coffee is all the same. It’s roasted beans, for God’s sake. Powder it and run hot water through it, and, bingo, it’s coffee. Essentially, coffee is human Drano. You don’t need anything to enjoy it, just open your trap and pour it down the drain. And beer is just beer. It’s not about complicated human enjoyment. No one worries about cellaring a great beer collection, or enjoying just the right beer with dinner. Beer and food go together like opera and pole dancing. You want a lot of each, just not on the same night. And it’s really over when the fat lady dances.

Wine Spectator decided to rip off Eric Asimov (How to Love Wine) and publish their own guide to How to Enjoy Wine. This is the equivalent of writing How to Enjoy Orgasms. Really? How hard is it to enjoy wine? Just lay there until the swelling subsides. The rest of my "Simpleton's Guide" is over at Tim Atkin's award-winning blog. And watch for my new book, "The Tantric Guide to Wine," arriving soon. I'm the Sting of wine writers. Tantric sex is like calling the plumber--you're in all day and nobody comes. Anyhow, wander over to Tim Atkin MW, and feel free to leave a comment there, or, if you prefer, leave me a little wet spot here.


My old computer recently passed on to the great Cloud in the Sky, taking with it some cherished photos I had stored, without backup (backup is for cops and toilets), as well as my continually updated list of ideas for HoseMaster of Wine™. It’s a bit disconcerting when all of your ideas disappear. Suddenly, you’re the editors of Wine Spectator. Not that I can’t come up with more ideas, but I miss that old list. It had years of ideas I’d enter as I thought of them, and was a kind of calendar of stupidity, greed and scandal in the wine business.

Many of the ideas came to fruition, but more than half didn’t. To be honest, at least that many were just plain stupid ideas. I would write an idea like “Asimov parody.” Oh, that’s brilliant. How did I think of that? Oh, I know, here’s an idea—what wine goes with Tony Award nominees? That’s pure wine writing gold. Mostly, my idea list was a way of keeping track of what I was thinking about, and of what I wanted to lampoon. Those ideas were jumping off points, a way to kickstart my imagination, and were usually quickly abandoned once the actual writing began.

So few ideas are actually any good. The list was a reminder of that as well. Inspiration is a fickle dominatrix. When I would sit down to write and felt like I had nothing to say, I would get frustrated. Looking at that list reassured me that writing HoseMaster of Wine™ has never been easy, and never really been fun. It reminded me that I could use an editor, though one is never forthcoming. And it reminded me of something I’ve only slowly learned to believe over the course of writing comedy most of my adult life—the well never runs dry. I always fear that I’ll sit down one afternoon to write and not a single joke will appear. That I’ll search futilely in the desolate landscape of my simian mind and not find a single banana peel to slip on. But, so far at least, that hasn’t happened. The writing starts, and the weirdness and jokes appear. And when I’m done, I gleefully hate ever word of it.


Unknown said...

Great stuff Ron.. but for Gawd's sake, stop obsessing that every piece has to be a comic jewel, ask anyone, they'd rather read the Hosemaster than any other wine blog out there.. but one quibble, beer is not just beer.. and I do try and pair the right beer with the right food, especially bar food, I know, get outta the damn bar David and get a life...
Couldn't disagree more with one of my fav chefs, David Chang, like his lack of pretense, said he loves pounding some hideous American light beer, well, maybe on a hot line, but no, not for drinking and he railed at that stupid fucking canoe joke, why is sex in a canoe and American beer the same, they're both fucking water.. just like my wines, like a high alcohol beer, just well made, please...

Bob Henry said...

Not that this gives you much succor, but this weekend's Wall Street Journal column by behavioral economics researcher Dan Ariely addressed the issue of "clutter" (in this case, your growing list of ideas):

Dear Dan,

I have this pile of papers on my desk. It is growing by the day, and the clutter is driving me crazy. At the same time, I don’t feel like I can handle my regular workload, so I keep postponing clearing up the pile—and it keeps getting larger and more daunting. Any advice?


Sometimes, we need to be forced to make a decision. My advice: spill a cup of coffee on your pile of papers. A few weeks ago, I was grappling with a similar problem, and one morning, while on a video conference call, I reached out to pick up my coffee and knocked it onto the pile of papers. I then had to look at each page and decide whether it was worth cleaning and drying. Most of them were useless.

Have a dilemma for Dan? Email

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Yeah, I know. But obsessing is what pathetic little satirists do. It's our twitch, our uncontrolled tic--we know everyone notices, but we hope they pretend they don't. I was more upset about losing a bunch of personal photos than the HoseMaster ideas. Most of them sucked.

I actually lead a very uncluttered life. I throw stuff out, give away lots of books to the local library, clothes to Goodwill. But you're right, ultimately, it's something of a relief to have that list gone. I think I can reconstruct most of it in my head anyway.

I am always asked where I get my ideas from. Ideas are not hard to come by, they are around us all the time, waiting for us to make them real. But ideas are like dreams, if you don't give them life immediately, they vanish. Say them out loud, write them down, tell them to your dog--something to make them stick. Ideas aren't at all hard to come by. Great ideas are. But for every great idea you capture, there are dozens that aren't so good. But there are no shortcuts. You have to capture the lousy with the good. I make lists.

Bob Henry said...

"Eponymous laws" . . .

Kitman's Law: “Pure drivel tends to drive away ordinary drivel."

Sturgeon's Law is an observation that in any given field, the vast majority of its works are of low quality. It is commonly stated as: "90 per cent of everything is crap."

A corollary of Parkinson’s Law: “Clutter expands so as to fill the storage space available.”

Bob Henry said...

Thomas Matthews is the executive editor of Wine Spectator magazine.

Perhaps Hoser's blog posting should be retitled:

"How to Enjoy Wine -- A Simple Tom's Guide"

Rob R said...

I'm just so sorry! Fabulous. I'm just so sorry I actually own some plastic wine goblets. Found them in the garage. That's just the ticket for plonk! (although not tear shaped...)

Ron Washam, HMW said...

And then there is one of the many HoseMaster Laws: The pricier the glass, the bigger the ass.

The garage is where all plastic glasses are stored, isn't it? And isn't "plastic glass" an oxymoron?

I like #HoseMasterMonday in England because I spend far less time in the common tater section. If I want a day off from responding, I just write a piece filled with stupid jokes, instead of a piece that insults Parker or bloggers or the business in general. Voila, I'm off for the day. Feels good.

Bob Henry said...

". . . in the common tater section."

Also known as the Peay-nut gallery?

Charlie Olken said...

Gee, the object of your winemakers to watch satire has decided to blow town. Let's hope the Chronicle hires someone who is equally good as comedy fodder.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

I think I should take some credit for Jon's departure, don't you? I'm sure it was mostly my mocking of him that made him move to NY into the arms of Talia and PUNCH. How the mighty have fallen. Next thing you know, he might start a blog. Bonnography. Has a certain ring to it.

Jon writing only once a month about wine for the Chronicle (I'm tempted to call it a Menstrual Show, but I won't) leaves only Asimov and Lettie as fulltime wine journalists for major newspapers. I think it's sad, but unsurprising.

I don't think the Chronicle will replace him, do you? And, no, I'm not available.

Charlie Olken said...

Yes, HMW, you were singularly responsible for Mr. Bonne's departure.

However, you are also responsible for global warming, Ribolla Gialla and Pablo Sandoval leaving town.

But, we, your faithful taters, don't care about your role in any of that latter stuff. We just sit quietly on the edges of our seats waiting for the next installment of any of your many mystery novels. And, I can tell you that hundreds and hundreds of winemakers are breathing a sigh of relief that the much disliked Jonboy has been run out of town. I am sure they will send you tons of wines now that there is no one else to insult them.

Oh, wait, he insulted them and then did not review their wines unless they were among the chosen two dozen and their 50 case lots of Charbono and Bastardo.

Marcia Macomber said...

"Opera and pole dancing" Oh, my, the visuals of Wagner sung and danced on a pole... scary stuff!

Would've commented over there, but the Discus was refusing to load.

Charlie's summary of the Great Departure is dead on. Will be interesting to see how the void is filled. ("Void? What void?" Yes, I can hear you already!)

Ron Washam, HMW said...

You left out that I'm responsible for the Hundred Point Scale, and Beyonce's baby.

I'll miss Jon, really. Good comic fodder is hard to come by. Though PUNCH is a pretty easy target, too. Talia and Jon are the new Dorothy and John--not married, but separated at birth. I think Talia has already written her glowing blurb for Jon's book about French wine that he hasn't even written yet. I may just review it before it's written, too.

And who you callin' a Bastardo?

Marcia Love,
Will the Chronicle even replace Jon? Why? I'm sure it was cost cutting. Though, as we all know, Natural wine abhors a vacuum. Though it loves a good plumber's helper.

Charlie Olken said...

Bastardo? I could have called you by your French name, Trousseau Noir, but the thought of you and a trousseau was too much to overcome. Although I'll bet you would be just lovely in all white.

Bob Henry said...


A Wall Street Journal personhal technology columnist likewise lost a whole bunch of photos that he had archived on his computer.

His solution?

See yesterday's column rating "cloud" storage services.

"The Best Way to Back Up Your Computer"