Sunday, July 31, 2016

The HoseMaster of Wine™ is Short Listed for a Roederer Wine Writers' Award

I’d forgotten that I’d entered my work on Tim Atkin MW’s site for a Roederer International Wine Writers’ Award. Every year that I’ve written for Tim, he has requested that all of his regular contributors make sure to enter the competition. It seems to be a self-nominating process, for the most part. I’m not comfortable with nominating myself for anything, except, perhaps, being an organ donor for a charity barbecue. And, I would always say to Tim, what chance does a scatalogical, raucous, tasteless satirist have in such a prestigious competition? It’s like a narcissistic buffoon trying to get nominated for President of the United States. Are people really that crazy?

I’ve won three Wine Blog Awards, and was nominated, I don’t know, maybe eleven times. I might be the most nominated wine blogger ever. Which is more shameful than not. I never nominated myself. I can say from experience that the Wine Blog Awards have a value equivalent to winning a Cub Scout merit badge. You get to wear it on a sash, but it’s hard to recognize what you actually accomplished, aside from wearing it on a sash. The Wine Blog Awards are inherently cynical and self-aggrandizing, and not worth the paper they are not written on. I’d give them back, but there’s not a fucking thing to give back. It’s like trying to return your order of refried beans with a melodic fart. There’s some satisfaction, to be sure, but it’s more about fragrance than substance.

The Roederers haven’t been around that long. But in a short span of time, they have become perhaps the most important award in wine writing. Granted, that’s a bit like being the most important award in hair styling, but true, nonetheless. In my mind, anyway. The James Beard Awards are prestigious, but there are more categories than the DSM, most of them eerily identical. Plus, I looked at the judges for the Roederers, and I couldn’t help but be impressed. (By the way, for you fellow cynics out there, Tim Atkin was not allowed to judge either me or Andrea Frost because he pays us to be on his site.) When I went to the Wine Blog Awards site, I could not find a list of this year’s judges. It’s as if they’d drawn profane cartoons of the prophet Mohammed and were in hiding. Je suis Cowardly.

But this isn’t a piece about the difference between the two awards. The only difference is one matters, the other is just so much marketing bullshit. Use your nose, it’s easy to tell which is which.

Tim Atkin sent an email on Wednesday informing Andrea Frost and me that we were going to appear on the short list for the Roederer Awards’ Ramos Pinto Online Communicator of the Year Award. I was a little confused. I used to know a busboy named Ramos who drove a Pinto, but that didn’t really make any sense. Why would he give me an award? Then I remembered entering the Roederers' competition. I was flabbergasted. I was sure Tim was screwing with me. I’m still not convinced it isn’t some sort of elaborate hoax to get me to London and humiliate me. Though that assumes there is some value in humiliating a nobody, like casting aspersions on a new Tim Allen movie.

Yet it’s true. I’ve been shortlisted (which always sounds to me like being shortsheeted—some sort of childish prank) for a Roederer Award. For one of the few times in my career as HoseMaster of Wine™, I’m proud.

I am proud, and amazed, because so rarely are satire and comedy awarded a seat at the Big Kids’ table. That my name is on a list with Andrew Jeffords and Jane Anson, two writers for whom I have enormous respect, is important—to me, of course, but far more importantly, to the cause and place of satire in wine writing. I have spent six years writing HoseMaster of Wine™. I try only to make people laugh, and very often squirm. I try to be interesting, fearless, and deranged. A Fool. I’m my own harshest critic. I take a back seat to no one when it comes to hating what I write. Yet that is the nature of a comedy writer. The most difficult thing for me to accept for the past few days has been the notion that perhaps I deserve the Roederer Award nomination. I’m trying to believe I’ve earned it. I’ll get there, but I don’t yet believe it.

The easiest part of this is that I will not win. I don’t care, not even the least bit. In fact, I would be humiliated to be chosen over Jeffords or Anson. My other fellow short listers are talented folks, too, I don’t mean to denigrate them by not addressing them, but Jeffords and Anson are in a league where I am not qualified to play. In that list, I’m the “What’s Wrong with This Picture?” guy. I know that. Yet Satire is there, playing in that league, with me as the Designated Hater. I think it’s something of a lovely miracle.

I’m not that good. I have fun, and I love to write, but I’m not really that good. Nor am I playing at false humility. Were it not for the unwavering support and encouragement of Tim Atkin MW, I wouldn’t even have bothered to apply. His belief in my satire, his willingness to allow me to write what I want without any sort of filter or editing, even at personal financial risk (from the morons at Riedel), is what put me on the wine writing map. While I owe the most to my beautiful wife, and to my long time common taters, I would never have been mentioned alongside such talent without the support of Tim Atkin MW. My sincerest thanks to him. He put his reputation behind me when no one else would. I won't ever forget that.

My mother always wanted me to be a writer. I broke her heart when I became a sommelier instead (oddly, something, in this day and age of sommelier glorification, I would not have pursued). My first thought when I saw Tim’s congratulatory email was of her. That, friends, is all the award I need.


Pam Strayer said...

Justice is served!

Eric V. Orange said...

Wow, Hose, you are SOMEBODY now.....

Kidding aside, congrats on this. Nice to see you recognized by more than just us 'taters.


nickh said...

i like your writing but others on the short list seem very odd choices indeed, a couple can't write for toffee and you have to wonder why they have even been considered,let alone shortlisted. Unless as some kind of 'statement' or perhaps from darker motives.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Thanks, Love. Hey, when are we going to hang out? After all these years, we should.

Thanks. I'm still dumbfounded and haven't quite yet come to believe it. Not that it's THAT big a deal, but being the satirist, the rabid dog of wine writing, I never expected any sort of important recognition. I confess I could get used to it.

Any competition that short lists me is immediately suspect, as far as I'm concerned. But thanks for liking my work. I hope that whoever wins is up to everyone's standards.

Unknown said...

Congrats, Hose. About time your talent was recognized. Looking forward to seeing your description of whatever you open to celebrate. Steve Pinzon

Goddess of Wine said...

Congrats to you, Master of Hoses! IMHO, any writing that consistently causes me to either spit my coffee or weep with joy or grief, or sometimes both, deserves recognition. Enjoy the moment, and get back to work!

Unknown said...

"...aspersions on a new Tim Allen movie." Or reviewing books without reading them. Chuckle chuckle, actually the appropriate way to review some wine books. Congratulations on being short cheated, you deserved it...never miss a single poorly written episode of the HSM.

Zzzz said...

@Nick It's not a dark secret, but there just really aren't that many people writing about wine and even fewer doing it well. Ron stands out for the latter and actually making wine entertaining, which is incredibly hard these days, especially as there are some on the list who do anything but...

Yeah, there are a few that maybe shouldn't be there. Maybe the judges had a particular leaning towards their writing. Maybe they were just at the beginning of the submissions and the judges got tired by the end but it's a pretty typical listing with a number of the same names that pop up year after year along with a couple of new ones. I can only guess that they're just testing the waters by nominating them to see if a little nudge could maybe propel them to do more and better in the future. I've seen others nominated in the past definitely not rise to the occasion as they thought being shortlisted meant they'd "made it."

In addition to there being few wine writers, it's a pretty lonely pursuit, and with a lot of criticism tossed at you whether you deserve it or not. Snortin' a little awards powder from time to time livens things up.

Mike Dunne said...

Congratulations, HoseMaster! As you note, you may not win - though I wouldn't wager against your prospects - but the consolation is seeing that satire, the most challenging of the comedic arts to pull off deftly, is regarded so highly within the wine establishment, and in the UK at that.

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
YOu have always been a beacon of joy and a sigh of great relief for our industry, so glad to see that others are finally seeing it. I am always honored to know and love you but these things give me a little charge of the thrilling fucking deserve it and I am sp damn proud of You.
I love You!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Thanks, everyone.

Anyone who writes about wine understands how challenging it is to make it seem interesting. The hurdle has always been that wine is far more interesting to smell and taste than it is to write about. It has that in common with erotica. Satire represents a way of looking at the world from a very skewed perspective, which, one hopes, is a way of making the reader reconsider the "normal" perspective. It's also supposed to generate laughter, which is the most liberating and wondrous human response to anything. When it does both, when it pushes boundaries, when it challenges and offends, is when it works.

Yet satire always struggles to find a place. It mocks power, and power doesn't much like that. It relentlessly takes on the pretenders, the fraudulent, and the talentless among us, many of whom hold positions of power. Satire isn't supposed to show any mercy. And while it is fun to see it at its best, it can be hard to take it when you are its target. I am either welcomed with enthusiasm when I meet someone I've lampooned, or I am openly disdained. I never know which reaction to expect.

I'd love to win. Why wouldn't I? But the art form I love has won a small victory in the short listing of my work for Tim Atkin. I'm satisfied with that, and damned proud, too.

Anonymous said...

I'm giving you a big Girls Gone Wild - WOOHOO!!

Marcia Macomber said...

Woohoo! A Toast to Hosé!

Unknown said...

Well deserved

Unknown said...

Big congrats to the Housemaster! As others have said here, you make us readers laugh and that requires a generous dose of talent.
Good luck from a fellow nominee who is clearly the odd one out on the list.

Blaise said...

I'd say all the common taters feel like we've won, too! Congrats and thank you for your constantly brilliant interpretation of people who wine, dearest Ron.

Charlie Olken said...

Satire never gets taken seriously. (I may trademark that thought).

Yet, it often, as you have shown, cuts closer to the bone than other forms of commentary.

You understand that, and so do your loyal common taters. And we understand how seriously you take the cause of humor.

Thanks. And to quote one of my heroes, you fucking deserve it.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Amy Love,
Hey, send me a video of that "Girls Gone Wild" moment! I'm compiling a Topless MW YouTube video. The one of Clive Coates is amazing. The guy is stacked.

Marcia Love,
You're one of the senior members when it comes to common taters. Thank you for all the years of support. People like you, and there are only a few, kept me going.

Thanks. I have to say, I'm actually pretty happy about the nomination. I'm rarely proud of my work, but this has helped.

Welcome. So sweet of you to drop by and be a common tater. I'm honored to be in the same category with you, and, who knows, one of us might win! Thank you for the kind words. Maybe I'll have the privilege of meeting you in London.

Smooch! Thank you for the very kind words.

From the earliest days, you've been here lending your authority and importance to my silly blog. That's meant more to me than you might know. Others in the biz read my work, but most have kept a distance. You have always been here contributing wit and insight, and I very much appreciate it.

I do take the cause of humor seriously. Humor and satire are necessary. Imagine a world without them, especially in this election year. The wine world doesn't really need another mediocre wine writer--there are countless. A few more humorists would be more than welcome.

Goddam right, I fucking deserve it.

Unknown said...

Well done, Ron. Everyone on that shortlist can write, despite what Nick Harman says. We were not trying to make a statement about anything. Apart from rewarding talent.

Don Clemens said...

Ron: absolutely deserved! I so look forward to Monday mornings when your posts arrive in my email bag. Usually, I have already been fighting the dragons of boredom in the wine biz, so I need the respite that your wicked wit provides. You very rarely let me down. You know what they say, "Just being nominated is reward enough!" (Of course, we all know that WINNING is the ultimate revenge, but...)
Congratulations, and keep sharpening that sword!

Unknown said...

Bloody brilliant article. You made me spit out my wine. Involuntarily. Your nomination is more than deserved. Your blog is, after all, the only one I read!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Awards are made to be questioned, don't you think? A judge's task is often thankless, but I'm more than willing to thank you, all the judges who voted for me (I know you could not), and even those who didn't vote for me. It must have been grueling work digging through the pile of manure looking for the ponies.

I find that talent is its own reward. My reward has been discovering my long lost comedy voice again, and meeting all the amazing people who arrived in my life because they admired my modest talent. It's been a blast from the beginning. Finding my voice, getting "discovered," being allowed to increase my influence and audience thanks to your support and your site, and finding genuine love and friendship with Samantha, Charlie, Lana, Kelli, Lisa PB, Marcia, Thomas, Christy, players to be named later, and Lo Hai Qu. I certainly want to win the Roederer Ramos Pinto Online Communicator Award, but I've already won. More than I ever dreamed possible.

I love what I do. And never more than when those I lampoon hate what I do.

Many thanks. And thanks for being such a loyal common tater.

You're too kind. Thank you. I hope one day we get to meet. I'd love to thank you in person.

Unknown said...

Actually, it's not a thankless task. I got bored of reading the 20th article about Beaujolais (all saying the same thing) but it was a pleasure to come across new writers, as well as to reward people whose continued excellence is an inspiration. There are people I would like to have seen on the shortlist, but we made the final decisions as a very good team where everyone had their say. I'm proud of the shortlist and even prouder of the winners. All will be revealed n September!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

I was just about to publish my Beaujolais article! Damn. It's a hard-hitting expose of Beaujolais Nouveau. So many fake bottles in the auction trade. I wouldn't buy older lots of them no matter what the provenance.

Actually, it must have been interesting to find talented writers who were new to you. I am familiar with the folks in my category, but the Emerging Writers category revealed some new voices to me, a few terrific ones. As you have said, wine writing isn't really dead. There are some wonderful voices out there (I admire yours, Tim, as you know) if you know where to look.

Not here would be your first clue.

Unknown said...

Dear Hose,

Congratulations for a well deserved nomination! I very much admire the writing of Andrew Jeffords and Jane Anson too and find their pieces engaging and refreshing in this oft mundane and repetitive world of putting wine into words. However, like other common taters here, yours is the only one I get excited about seeing in my inbox and will make time in a full schedule to read, often laughing out loud and sharing with my coworkers so we can laugh at ourselves and the career we've chosen, and sometimes being introspective and self-reflective with some of your more emotional and poignant pieces that really hit the mark when you have to courage to create and post them. Thank you for what you do and thank you for being you and not just announcing this great honor but doing it in the fashion that got you here-- I mean: "It’s like trying to return your order of refried beans with a melodic fart. There’s some satisfaction, to be sure, but it’s more about fragrance than substance". How do you come up with this stuff? However you do it, thanks for sharing it with all of us and getting the judges Roederer Wine Writers' Awards to read it too. Good luck.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

"How do you come up with this stuff?" is a question I've been asked my entire life. I have no idea. I surprise myself all the time, which is one reason why I keep writing. I never know what sort of bean-fueled flatulence I'll come up with.

Thank you for the kind words. The Roederer short listing has been an enormous lift for me. I'm very proud, and I'm almost never proud of what I do here. It's been a great feeling.

Hawk_Wakawaka said...

Sending all my love and the brightest smile I can. Congratulations, friend. So happy for you.