Monday, April 22, 2019

Reasons You Failed Your Master Sommelier Exams

During the service exam, you stuck your tongue into the neck of the wine bottle you’d just opened and moaned, “Oh, God, I love you, Lettie.”

In your description of Grüner Veltliner, you used the word “taint” without mention of cork.

Mistakenly wore your diaphragm around your neck instead of a tastevin. Made the wine smell funny.

May have been overheard calling Fred Dame MS, “Wine’s Donald Trump.”

When asked by the examiner if you thought a Duckhorn was good, you said, “Yes, it’s perfect for when you have a really tight duck.”

Forgot to bring the answers you found in your email to the blind tasting exam.

Your answer for a question on soil samples was 1000 words on Depends.

You mistakenly identified “sommelier” as the primary grape in Sauternes, and declared Barsac a venereal disease contracted from stools in natural wine bars.

During the blind tasting exam, you spit each wine into your hand and yelled, “Baby needs a new pair of shoes!”

Beyoncé is not a variety. It was not crossed with Kanye to make Pinotage.

When asked for a wine to accompany Hamachi, you suggested Yellow Tail.

You wore clown shoes.

Identified all six wines in the blind tasting as “kinda bitey.”

When asked to identify the seven subzones of Chianti, you left out Sneezy.

When finished serving a bottle of Grower Champagne, one is not supposed to spike it and yell, “In your face, cocksuckers!” That’s only allowed after serving Dom Perignon.

You thought part of the service exam was blowing a balloon animal in the shape of your MS mentor. Where did the balloon animal figure in, stupid?

You misunderstood the word “proctor,” and asked to have your prostate checked. Luckily, it was fine.

When asked what is your favorite German TBA, you said, “The winner of the Angela Merkel lookalike contest.”

You have a vagina.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The HoseMaster of Wine's™ Commencement Speech for the Shemp Howard Wine, Food and Dog Grooming Institute

Inspired by reading Karen MacNeil's commencement speech to grads of the C.I.A., a speech about "the last true things" (so, yes, it's a short speech), I thought I'd reflect on my own notion of wine's last true things...

I had the honor of being asked to be the commencement speaker at the recent graduation ceremonies for the unaccredited Shemp Howard Institute for Sommeliers, Wine Professionals and Mexican Hairless Dog Groomers. Here is my speech in its entirety.

Let me start by saying that when it comes to wine, wine writing, and the wine business in general, it’s all been done before. There just isn’t anything new you can add, and it’s best if you just understand that from the get-go. For one thing, I think we all know there are too many sommeliers as it is. I recently read a statistic that there are more sommeliers per capita in the United States than there are lab rats; though one group is used for drug experiments, and the other to run mazes for paltry rewards. Guess which group is which. Hard to tell, right?

Don’t let this discourage you. Every day, thousands of unqualified wine professionals just like  you write blog entries, assemble wine lists, host wine tastings, and annoy unsuspecting patrons of wine bars. The wine business seems to have an endless capacity to absorb graduates of wine programs from all walks of life into meaningless, poorly paid, and strictly tangential jobs. This could be you! You have every reason to be proud. The diploma you’re receiving today from Shemp U. has as much value as any wine education diploma from any other institution. Virtually none. There’s comfort in that.

But before you go out into the real world of wine, I have a few words of advice I’d like to share, advice gathered from a lifetime wasted in the wine business.

First, Have a Backup Plan
I hope you paid attention in your required Mexican Hairless dog grooming classes because there are thousands and thousands of wine biz wannabes who want to get into the business, most of whom will fail. Looking around at this handsome group, I’m guessing your real future is in credit card fraud. That’s great! Just have a backup plan. The job you’re dreaming about, whether it’s a sommelier job at a prestigious restaurant, or a much-admired wine critic (which, by the way, is an oxymoron), or a wine auction consultant selling fraudulent wines for quick bucks, is probably taken. Be smart. Go ahead and plan on spending your life stacking wine boxes at supermarkets at 4AM because that’s where most of you will land.

Second, Learn to Pretend
One thing I tell all the young people who ask me how I became so successful in the wine business is it’s important you know how to pretend you know more than you do. This is the key to success in the wine business. Indeed, I don’t know anyone in the business for whom this isn’t true. “Wine Folly” has built a shabby Tinkertoy wine empire on pretending, and you can, too! In almost every conversation I have with successful, even famous, wine people, I realize with astonishing regularity that they’re faking it. If you cannot learn to pretend, your chances of success in the wine business are very slim indeed.

Third, Don’t Make Waves
The wine business rewards dullness and unoriginality. We don’t like new ideas, and we don’t like to be challenged or made fun of. Do things the way they’ve always been done. This is especially true for those of you pursuing a job in wine marketing. The same old lies have worked for decades. It’s your job to walk the same path. But I can see by your faces that’s probably already a done deal. Good for you!

Fourth, This is a Man’s World
Get over it.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Proper Etiquette For Taking Your Own Wine Into a Restaurant

This is a piece written as a reaction to Matt Walls' piece on about the tired old subject of corkage fees.

Just what is the etiquette for bringing your own bottle of wine into a restaurant, you self-entitled twerp? Oh, I don’t know. You may as well ask, what is the standard etiquette for bringing my own semen to a Tupperware party? It’s about the same situation. There is no answer. But you can certainly expect some disgusted looks from the help. What did you think was going to happen? People were going to ask for a small taste?

Let’s say you’re determined to take that highly overrated wine to dinner. It is overrated, you know. You’re the kind of idiot who complains about the high prices on wine lists, but then goes out and spends several hundred dollars on an overrated wine because some wine critic everyone knows is on the take gave it 99 points. You think you’re saving money by bringing in your own overpriced trophy wine, that’s how smart and savvy you are. Hey, I know, next time you go to the movies, take your own projector! That’ll save you a fortune.

Sure, you have an impressive wine cellar. Good for you. It’s at home, right? So here’s what you do. Eat at home, Wineboy. Listen, I have pedigreed dogs, champions of their breed, but I don’t take one when I go out for Korean BBQ. What sense does that make? It’s like taking a chicken hawk to a cockfight. What are you thinking? Kinda rude, don’t you think? There’s gonna be dead chickens, anyway. You’re just being stupid.

But if, after all that, you decide to take your own bottle to a restaurant, what can you expect? Pretty much what you deserve—condescenscion and ridicule. Suck it up and take it like a man. Listen, these are people trying to make a living working in a goddam restaurant. They don’t care that you brought in some dusty old Bordeaux out of your amazing wine cellar. They already hate you, and now you want them to admire your taste in wine? Sure. I know, offer them a taste, that should make them suddenly smitten with your charm! Only offering them a taste of your ’59 Margaux is like offering caviar to a duck. And then expecting that nothing will be on the bill. Get over yourself.

Oh, everyone is going to tell you it’s fine to bring your own wine, that the restaurant is just happy to have your business. And, like whatever that is in your Tupperware, you’ll probably swallow it. I don’t know what you do for a living, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a customer trying to save money on your services isn’t exactly your favorite. I mean, you don’t take your own oil to Jiffy Lube, do you? Knowing you, you probably do. You probably also try to buy Girl Scout cookies with Bitcoin and ask for exact change. Dick. You’re sneaking hot dogs into baseball games and using their mustard and relish for free, without even calling ahead to ask if they have a weenie fee. You’re insufferable, you know that?

It’s fine. I don’t care. Take your own wine the next time you go out to dinner. Just don’t act like you’re doing the restaurant a favor. That’s obnoxious. And the least you can do is leave a generous tip, maybe some of that money you stole from the Girl Scout.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Worst Wine Marketing Slogans

Wine as natural as asphalt.

Your wine tasting experience isn’t complete until you visit wine country’s only vomitorium!

Our wines are as sustainable as an erection at a slaugherhouse.

Our wines are made in a natural and environmentally-conscious way as a promise to our customer that only the alcohol will kill you.

If it makes you feel any better, our ABV is completely fabricated.

Your tasting fee back if we check your ID.

If it weren’t for the herbicides, we’d be organic.

Voted “One of Ten New Wineries to Watch” by the Department of Health.

We’re marginally better than wines half our price.

Wine Spectator said of our Cabernet, “Now I know what my dog tastes when he licks his balls.”

Wine for people who still giggle when they hear, “bungholes.”

We always note the date our bubbles were disgorged, just like Michael Jackson did.

It was a trip to Napa Valley in 2003 that convinced us to pursue our dream and buy a vineyard in Lodi.

All of our wines are fermented by native yeasts. An Arapaho sits in our Pinot Noir.

We’re not happy with our wine unless you’re not happy with our wine.

Our favorite red blend was recently awarded, “Most Likely to Be Seen at Traffic Accidents”

The grapes come from a vineyard right next to a famous Superfund site!

Ask yourself, if our wines weren’t natural would we be able to say they were? Of course we would!

Monday, April 1, 2019

The HoseMaster of Wine™ Solves the Enduring Mysteries of Wine

I wasn't able to solve ALL of the enduring mysteries of wine. Many simply remain mysteries. Like why anyone reads wine blogs. Or why Esther Mobley has suddenly become Erica Asimov. Or whether biodynamics works for personal hygiene. Or who told me I was funny. I may have to write a sequel. But for now, you can head over to Tim Atkin's site to discover once and for all the answers to many of wine's mysteries.

As always, feel free to add your answers to any and all mysteries at Tim's place, or gently break the truth to us here on HoseMaster of Wine™. Wine isn't so much a mystery as it is noir--Grenache noir.

Wine is more mysterious than the success of Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Yellow Tail of musical theater composers. It’s more mysterious than North Korean FaceBook. Wine has more secrets than auction houses have fake wines, or R. Kelly has fake tears. Wine is more perplexing than Brexit (short for Brextannomyces, which causes a distinct sulfurous smell). Wine befuddles us like nothing else, except maybe IKEA instructions. In short, everyone knows nothing about wine. Especially people with letters after their names. What are those WSET, CSW, MS, MW things? Surname dingleberries?