Monday, September 28, 2015

America's Next Top Somm!

“Good evening, and welcome to America’s Next Top Somm Live! Here’s your host, Larry Anosmia MS!”


“Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Tonight is the season finale to America’s Next Top Somm. One of our finalists will be named America’s Top Somm. He or she will receive $25,000, and a prestigious contract with Jackson Family Estates, our generous sponsor. Yes, that’s Jackson Family Estates—Where People with Important Wine Credentials Go to Die™. And now let’s meet the judges!”

(The three chairs onstage, each in the shape of a giant tastevin, revolve to reveal the three judges, to a thunderous ovation.)

“First, he’s often referred to as America’s greatest chef, mainly because it’s one of his job requirements. Known for underpaying sommeliers because he knows they want his name on their resumés, he’s a hero to restaurant owners everywhere, it’s Thomas Keller!” (Applause) “How are you, Thomas? Are you ready to go?”

“I am Larry! I’m kinda choked up. I can hardly breathe. I feel like a force-fed goose that will make amazing foie gras! I’ve sold so much foie gras, Larry, I have a three-car gavage.” (Laughter, and applause)

“Classic, Thomas! Our next judge is the publisher of the world’s most influential wine magazine, and something of an overstuffed goose himself!” (Laughter) “Each year, his magazine allows restaurants all over the world to pay him to declare their wine lists excellent. They’re not called the ‘Grand Awards’ because they’re cheap! Let’s hear it for Mahvelous Marvin Shanken!” (Applause) “Marvin! Ready to do this?”

“I’m so excited to be here, Larry. I’ve never done a show like this before. I feel like Mark Cuban cigar!” (Laughter) “Put me in your mouth and smoke me!” (Applause)

“I would, Marvin, but I’m trying to quit. It’s how I got my MS. Though I’m thinking Thomas might! Or our third and final judge might, too. She’s famous for being famous; the perfect judge for America’s Top Somm because she understands and embodies Narcissism, Kim Kardashian!” (Applause) “Kim, are you ready?”

“I’m ready, Larry. Oh, and Marvin, I don’t know about cigars, but I’m big on butts! Mine can disgorge Champagne!” (Laughter, as she demonstrates it.)

“I’ve got news for you, Kim, you’re the third biggest ass on this panel!” (Laughter)

“OK, judges, over the past weeks you’ve narrowed the field for America’s Next Top Somm down to three. Tonight, those three sommeliers will compete for your votes, and for the votes of our live television audience out there! Those of you watching at home will be able to vote for your favorite somm at the end of the broadcast. Your votes will count! And we’ll crown America’s Next Top Somm at the end of tomorrow's show. The winner gets a check for $25,000, a job with Jackson Family Wines, and, listen to this, their very own MS!” (Cheers, and applause) “Yes, Master Sommelier—the Myspace of Wine Diplomas.”

“Our first sommelier is from Las Vegas, Nevada, where she runs the wine program for Las Vegas’ hottest steakhouse, Meat Compass. Let’s hear it for Annie Oakchips!” (Applause) “Annie, tell the judges, and the audience out there, what you’re going to do for us tonight.”

“Well, Larry, I’m going to identify all six of the wines in these glasses in front of me blind.” (Audience gasps) “In sixty seconds.” (Applause) “While you grope me!” (Cheers!)

“Wow. So, Annie, this simulates what it’s like for you to work in a Las Vegas restaurant, is that right?”

“Not just Las Vegas, Larry! I’m a woman!”

“OK. Are you ready? Let me get behind you. Now, when I say, ‘Start the clock,’ Annie, you have sixty seconds to call out the variety of each wine in the glasses in front of you. The audience at home will see the correct answers, as will our three judges. OK. Start the clock!” (Larry grabs her ass.)

“OK, the first wine is, uh, Viognier, probably Virginia. Hey, that ass is not on the list for sale, buddy. The second wine is…Zweigelt. Pretty sure. Touch that again and I’ll Coravin™ your leg bag. The third glass is, oh, hmm, this is hard, maybe Meiomi Pinot Noir? Smells like God gave up. And, listen, touch those again and I’ll make you drink this crap. Number four is, wait, I can’t smell anything, it’s gotta be Pinot Grigio. Don’t stand so close or I’m charging you a porkage fee. Five smells like…oh, wait, is that Ruché? Is that a .187, or are you just happy to see me?” (Ten seconds!) “Six is, oh, oh, wait, six is…Pignolo!” (BUZZER) (Applause)

“That was amazing, Annie. Now, judges, tell us what you think. Thomas, you go first.”

“Very impressive, Annie. I liked how you handled Larry groping you. Larry, you can stop now. Though I was surprised you got the Viognier wrong.” (Audience moans) “That was shampoo. But you did great, and, if you want to work for me, not a problem. And minimum wage will soon be $15/hour in California!”

“Thanks, Thomas. Tough about the Viognier. But let’s move on to Marv. Marv?”

“If I’m not mistaken, Annie, didn’t Meat Compass receive a Wine Spectator Grand Award? That’s quite an honor. So I know you are comfortable with ridiculous prices and customer intimidation, which is important. And I liked that you pegged the Meiomi. It fooled Laube. So I think you did great, and you’d be a great America’s Next Top Somm!” (Applause)

“OK, Marvin, well said. Now, Kim, what did you think of Annie?”

“I like your dress. It shows off your ass, and that’s really important for women.” (Applause)

“Thanks, Kim. Our next finalist is from Los Angeles, California, where he runs the wine program at the restaurant for Cedars Sinai Hospital, The I.V. at the Shore, by night, and is practicing ventriloquism by day, please welcome sommelier Price Gouge!” (Applause) “Welcome, Price. Now how are you going to top Annie and become America’s Next Top Somm?”

“Well, Larry, I’m going to present each of these remarkable judges with a wine list I put together that doesn’t have a single wine the judges will recognize!” (Oooh) “And, while they’re trying to figure out which wine to order, I’ll disappear!” (Applause)

“That’s astonishing, Price. Those of you who have never been a sommelier may not understand how hard it is to actually create a wine list that makes no sense to anyone, yet, for many new restaurants, that’s the current trend. It’s important that the sommelier be far more important than the guests, I think we all agree about that. Alright, Price, go ahead and give Thomas, Marvin and Kim their wine lists.”

“Now, Price, I…wait, where did he go? Judges? Anyone seen Price? Well, when it comes to wine lists, I guess Price is the hardest to understand. So? Marvin, what do you think?”

“I don’t have the slightest idea what to make of Price’s list. There are, like, 80 wines, and I don’t recognize a single one. Wow. That’s unbelievable. And Price isn’t here to help. I don’t know what to say, Larry. I’m deeply impressed, and I think that’s what people are looking for nowadays from their sommeliers. In the old days, I’d look at a wine list and see dozens of wines I wanted to try. That seems selfish of me in retrospect, but it was just the way service worked. I think it’s great that so many young sommeliers are more focused on their own taste, on fooling the customers into ordering their pet wines, their Pet Nats as it were. If I were at I.V. on the Shore, I’d definitely have to spend a lot of time talking to Price about what wine to order—time I’d otherwise have to spend with my wife and friends. It’s all about him! Price is the epitome of America’s Next Top Somm!” (Applause)


“He’s pretentious, he’s self-centered, he’s all about being the star of the show…he’s perfect, Per Se!” (Cheers)


“I like that he was staring at my ass. That’s important for a woman.” (Applause)

“OK, judges, so far we’ve had Annie blind taste and identify six wines while I groped her, while Price dazzled us with Narcissism. Let’s move on to our third and final contestant. He’s from New York, where he just recently returned after a short time serving with ISIS, and is the sommelier at New York’s hottest spot, Tavern on the Landmines, please welcome Hugh G. Markup!” (Applause) “You’ve got two tough acts to follow, Hugh. Dazzle us!”

“I’ll try, Larry. Those ISIS guys didn’t know much about wine, but they taught me a thing or two about sales techniques!” (Applause) “I’m going to ask each judge to look at my wine list. When they’re ready to order, I’m going to intimidate them with a few choice words into spending more money than they intended.” (Applause)

“That won’t be easy, Hugh. These are experienced wine professionals with four large breasts between them. Good Luck. Let’s start with Thomas.”

“OK, Hugh, let me have a bottle of Spottswoode Cabernet, the 2009.”

“And six glasses?”

“Yes. There are six of us.”

“Very well. I’ll bring the smaller stems.”

“Oh, I meant two bottles of Spottswoode.” (BUZZER. Applause)

“Nicely done, Hugh. Now, Marvin, see if you can outsmart our somm.”

“No problem. So, Hugh, I’d like to order two bottles of Montelena Cabernet 2001, please.”

“You’ve had the Screaming Eagle, yes?”

“Of course, many times, Hugh.”

“And your guests?”

“Well, I, uh, don’t think, I, uh…I doubt it. Let’s start with that, then.” (BUZZER. Applause) “Oh, BLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP you, you BLEEEEEEEEEP. You got me.” (More applause)

“That leaves it up to you, Kim.”

“OK. Bring whatever damn wine you want, Hugh. My ass is paying.”

“Nicely played, Kim! You win, and Hugh wins. Spending other people’s money is what a great sommelier learns to do. Hugh, that was fantastic.”

“There you have it, folks. Now it’s up to you. You have the rest of the evening to phone in your votes for America’s Next Top Somm. Be sure and tune in again tomorrow when we’ll find out which sommelier will win $25,000, a job with Jackson Family Estates—Where People With Important Wine Credentials Go To Die™, and an MS. MS! The Myspace of Wine Diplomas! This is Larry Anosmia MW wishing you a good night, and reminding you that it’s not important to drink the wine you like, it’s important to drink the wine we like. GOOD NIGHT!”


Don Clemens said...

I think I've served the prototypes of your panelists!

Tom In Real Life said...

I keep thinking, at some point, this guy's going to run out of sacred cows to flambe but... apparently not. Thanks for putting the snark back in my Monday reading Ron. You the best.

Anonymous said...

Where People With Important Wine Credentials Go To Die™ - I almost fell out of my chair!!!!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

So sorry, but they're out there... Thanks for being the earliest common tater so often.

Thank you, though I always think the word "snark" is a subtle putdown, which was not your intention. I don't think. Anyhow, I suspect I'll never run out of "sacred cows," the wine biz is crawlin' with 'em. Something of a mixed metaphor, but they do leave steaming piles everywhere. Thanks for chiming in.

Amy My Sweet,
Man, you need to wear a seat belt. Doesn't K-J have about 10% of the MS's in the world on their payroll? Plus Heimoff?! Sheesh, it's like a stud farm without the studs.

I love you, you know.

Unknown said...

This belongs in the pantheon of "Hosemaster Highlights." Way too many ROFLMAO lines to count, but I. V. at the Shore is in the top 10....
George Ronay

Fenton said...

Epic funny! Good work Hose. The Donald lost his Apprentice show. Maybe he will show up as a judge in a future season.

Mark Rader said...

A flat riot. Takes me back to those nights at the Pacific Dining Car.

nojomo said...

One of my favorites yet. Cheers.

Unknown said...

I will unfortunately have the image of Kim's ass disgorging a Champagne bottle for the rest of the day. Gaseous fun? Thanks for the chuckles!

David said...

Wow, Ron - you´re on a roll!
I agree with nojomo - probably one of the best HMW posts until now.
Seems like the riedelicious business just lubricated your funnel and sharpened your skewer. First a really good Lo Hai Q piece, and now this piece of unregulated insanity.
Last Larry A post, you said that you were still finding his voice. You got it now. And did he just change the MS to an MW like that? - he sure is a magician of sorts!


Daniel said...

"MS- the myspace of wine diplomas"- I've never heard it put better! of course, now that is all I will think of every time I see or hear that 'title'. thanks for that, they won't know why I'm snickering...

Martin said...

this is up there and funny because It's true. lists full of obscure crap to show off are worse than lists full of grand cru burgundies and 1st growth Bordeaux. Viognier as shampoo.LOL.

Aaron said...

I'm voting for Annie. At least she managed to show she knew _something_ about wine. The others just had the attitude to make the judges go along with whatever they wanted. Any good used car salesman in the low rent part of town can do that.

Joseph Comfort said...

Hi Yo!!! Hats off to the HMW - serving the lance of reality to the deserving once again!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hello Gang,
Sorry, I've been away from my desk all day. Thanks to everyone for the very kind words.

It won't be long before there will be a lot of horrifically pretentious sommelier "reality" shows on some worthless cable channel. Sommeliers competing is pathetic on the face of it. There's already been an incredibly stupid email going around promoting Esquire's "Best Dressed Somm" competition. Idiots. Best dressed somm is like Miss Congeniality for Serial Killers. Who the hell cares? The glorification of sommeliers is the absolute low point of the wine business these days.

I had a simple concept. The words "America's Next Top Somm" were stuck in my head. So I went with that. Larry Anosmia had to be the host, and I knew I wanted Kim Kardashian as a judge because she represents what sommeliers are becoming--narcissistic and exhibitionist. After that, I just started typing. That it made people laugh is heartening. But, mark my words, it's a show coming. Please, for the love of God, don't watch ANY reality shows about sommeliers. Instead, get a life.

Divine Miss M said...

Ron, this one has such a natural flow. It must have taken you 5 minutes to write, and it's really good.

Cris Carter said...

Hey Ron, this was great! Spot on. As a father of a nine-month old, and a winemaker until now busy with harvest, I have only had the chance to read your last couple of months' posts on bathroom breaks. (As a former somm, you too are familiar with the smell of feces having met countess distributor reps.) Keep on trucking, homie. Your words have made many an invoice-laden Monday brighter.

Ziggy said...

Still trying to find the "Thumbs Up" emoji.

More Somm B.S.:
A tastevin—a shallow, faceted silver cup—was not originally designed for sommeliers; it was originally designed for winemakers tasting in candle-lit cellars.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Divine Miss M,
Well, no, it took me a lot longer than five minutes to write. I'm old. Nothing flows that well anymore.

Thanks. I do what I can to keep on truckin', but it never gets any easier. And I never get any better at figuring out what I'm doing. I might as well be a winemaker.

And here I thought the tastevin was originally a diaphragm. The shit you learn around here...

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
Sorry to be so late to the party, was hold up in Boston for a few days with insanely limiting internet access. In fact the only thing more annoying than not being able to connect to the interwebs was trying to navigate their fucking wine lists, $56 being the going rate for a bottle of Prosecco round there. Yikes. Rather drink a magnum of fart water, (aka Pinotage) than pay that for Mionetto Prosecco!

Very pleased to now be home and able to read this fantastically hilarious piece you wrote. Bit of a Hatchet job on old Price there and I found myself, as an aging female in the wine business, jealous of Annie getting manhandled, so I guess my vote goes to Hugh. Tell me, My Sweet and Brilliant Man, there is going to be a part II.
I love you!

Wine doggie said...


Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,
Sounds like it's time for a Boston P Party. P for Prosecco, not what you're thinking. Dump that P in the harbor where it belongs. Yeah, you heard me.

I don't think there's a Part Two in me. I'm amazed there was a Part One. I'm a bit amazed that it's been so popular. But I'm always wrong. Personally, I think Lo's piece was far and away a better piece, and it drew a far smaller audience, but when I do stupid, like this piece, it's always more popular. I don't care. You know me, I write what I want to write. And I'm grateful that you, in particular, liked it.

I love you, too, MB.

Wine doggie,

Ishkabibble said...

I love this one! Bravo!