"Irreverence is easy--what's hard is wit."--Tom Lehrer
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
It's time once again to dispel some of the countless myths that surround wine. Creating these myths seems to be part of the game for wine experts, a way to keep ordinary people from understanding and enjoying wine. As HoseMaster, I have taken it upon myself to destroy these myths, reveal them for the hogwash they are. This is the third in my Myth series. You're welcome.
Myth #1 Drinking wine is healthy for you.
The Wine-Industrial Complex has been cooking up fake results for decades now that have convinced most people that drinking moderate amounts of wine is part of a healthy lifestyle. They often site the soothing effects of alcohol, how it relaxes you, relieves stress--sound familiar? The Tobacco-Agricultural Complex used to say the same things about cigarettes in the 50's. The folks who fell for it then, well, they're wishing they'd inhaled asbestos instead. And then there's all this talk about Resveratrol, a supposed antioxidant which was originally devised to add to Chevron's premium grade of gasoline. Whatever Resveratrol's done for mice, it turns out humans are basically unable to absorb it through the stomach. And, really, wine isn't particularly enjoyable as a suppository, though removing a screwtop that way is a wonderful party trick! And then there was the famous "60 Minutes" Wine-Industrial Complex fake segment hosted by Morley Safer (safer than what? Lead poisoning?) about the mythical "French paradox." A bogus study claimed that despite their rich and fatty diet, the French are less prone to heart disease than Americans because they consume more wine with their meals. Yeah, right. So now that the per capita consumption of wine has decreased in France does this mean they will start dying younger? Just more false hope. Drinking wine is not good for your health, friends, we all understand that deep down. Hey, they preserve dead stuff in alcohol--enough said. High auction bidder with bottle of Screaming Eagle.
Myth #2 Food Wine
How many times have you been at a wine tasting and been told that the wine you were tasting is a "food wine?" Fifty times at least, right? Now how many times have you been in a restaurant and the waiter recommended a dish because it's "wine food?" Never. "Food wine" is a myth. Couldn't be more bogus. Sure, wine accompanies food like stupid accompanies Paula Abdul, but wines aren't MADE to go with food. Someone tells you a wine is a Food Wine, you know it's going to be a lifeless and dull bottle of wine, a wine that can't be sold on its own merits, so they want you to buy it because it will absolutely dazzle you with food! It sucks on its own, like Lionel Ritchie without the Commodores, but pair it with cassoulet and it's brilliant! Has any wine salesperson ever said to you, "You know, I love this wine but it absolutely sucks Sarah-Palin-style with food."? No. So apparently every damn wine is a Food Wine! This is just palin (I mean, plain) stupid. Makes you want to go out and buy a six-pack of Food Beer.
Myth #3 Wines taste better out of the appropriate Riedel glass.
Yeah, right, and I can steal your nose by wiggling my thumb through my fist. How dumb are humans that they believe this? Riedel is the Bernie Madoff of stemware. OK, that's not fair. Bernie Madoff is the Riedel of Wall Street Investors--OK, that's better. Riedel starts from a premise that their specialized glasses feed the wine to the appropriate spot on your tongue for maximum enjoyment of the wine based on the famous tongue map that has sweetness at the tip of your tongue, bitterness on the sides, etc. Only problem is that tongue map was disproven forty years ago. You might as well believe masturbating makes you go blind, which only makes you feel sorry for Guide Dogs. Your tongue doesn't just taste sweetness on the tip, there are no divisions of labor on the tongue, it tastes every one of the six basic tastes everywhere (including tasting umami--which sounds more like a ghetto epithet than a taste, but I digress). The whole Riedel premise is based on bogus science and the results are therefore bogus. But there's nothing like superstition for a license to print money.
Myth #4Wine judges spit.
OK, they spit, they just don't spit wine. There's no reason to spit wine when one is judging a wine competition. Frankly, it's dirty and disgusting and the Health Department of most major cities won't allow it. Plus, organizers know that a lot more gold medals are awarded when the judges are stinko so they don't even allow spitbuckets. It doesn't take much to see that this is true. Read the results of wine competitions and then compare their results with the scores from major wine publications. There is virtually no correlation between gold medals and scores above 90 points. Why? All the critics and judges are hammered! Wine judges and wine critics are pissed almost all the time. Sure, they want you to believe that they taste the wines blind and sober, but, really, it doesn't matter if they see what the wine is that they're tasting, they're too drunk to read the label anyway. So how do judges stay conscious when tasting 100 wines or more in a day? An awful lot of wine comes out through their noses.
After 19 years as a Sommelier in Los Angeles, twice named Sommelier of the Year by the Southern California Restaurant Writers' Association, I moved to Sonoma County to explore the other aspects of the wine business. I've spent, OK wasted, 35 years learning about and teaching about and swallowing wine. I am also a judge at the Sonoma Harvest Fair, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the San Francisco International Wine Competition--so I can spit like a rabid llama. I know more about wine than David Sedaris and I'm funnier than James Laube. Stay tuned for an informed but jaded view of everything wine and everything else.
I'm living proof that alcohol kills brain cells.
What the Critics Are Saying About HoseMaster of Wine
"If you want a great hoot and howl moment or two...go read the HoseMaster's year-end reflections...that guy is without a doubt the funniest SOB in the blog-world...and thank him for having the brains and balls to target his laser of laughter on anybody...HoseMaster for President...HoseMaster for Blogger of the Year...although he would be the first to say the bar is so damn low for that award, he should win it every year..." --Robert Parker
"No one is immune from California sommelier and wine judge Ron Washam's skewering. He polishes that skewer with boundless enthusiasm and acuity."
"As serious as the world of wine is, it does allow time for humor. Each Monday and Thursday, Ron Washam customarily posts a commentary on his needling wine blog HoseMaster of Wine. Washam, a former sommelier and comedy writer – he might say they are closely related – is the most opinionated, humorous and ribald observer in the wine world. His body of work is irreverent and remorseless. It’s almost always satire and parody, though he occasionally drifts into straight commentary, sometimes even with tasting notes. This past year, one of his posts was named the best of the year in the Wine Blog Awards. His success has spawned several imitations, which in their awkwardness show just how difficult satire is."
--Mike Dunne, Sacramento Bee
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/01/21/6089630/dunne-on-wine-wine-blogs-and-bloggers.html#storylink=cpy
"Please let this guy write the scripts for Saturday Night Live which has gotten so lame...his newest "wisdom" is worth an Emmy....I wonder if he is the genius behind all those Hitler/Parker,etc. clips? No one else is remotely as funny or as talented.And the wine world sure needs someone to poke fun at all the nonsense and phoney/baloney unsufferable crap out there."
"Washam uses his own blog, HoseMaster of Wine, to skewer the industry in general and wine blogs in particular. If your mouse scoots to your browser's close box while reading a wine blog, Washam may be the blogger for you."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"Ron Washam, former sommelier, is easily the most bitingly funny blogger/wine writer that we have ever come across. He is an equal opportunity crusader who pillories big wineries and amateur bloggers alike, as well as everything and everyone in between...One needs a sense of humor and a tolerance for earthiness to enjoy reading The Hosemaster. We must have both because this guy deserves a wider audience, in our humble opinion." --Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
"In my opinion, and that of many others, his blog is one of the best. And in terms of satirical or parodic wine blogs, it has no peer. Ron’s alert eye catches every pretense and skewers it with laugh out loud mercilessness."
"This site should carry a warning label. It's sort of a Dave Barry/George Carlin approach to wine. The Hosemaster (real name Ron Washam) skewers fellow bloggers and industry savants with glee, while offering hilarious wine guides such as his Honest Guide to Grapes..."
--Paul Gregutt, Seattle Times
"Washam is a skilled wine judge (I have judged with him) who is willing to judge wine double blind, in public. To my knowledge, Parker does not do this and never has. So Ron's credentials are in place, and so is his sense of the absurd."
--Dan Berger, VintageExperiences
"...I consider Ron a very talented writer and I’ve long been an admirer of his scathing wit..."
"And if any free sites think they can conquer the world, there’s always the Hosemaster to take ‘em down a notch."
--Tyler Colman "Dr. Vino"
"Those of you who know Ron either love or hate him, because he throws jabs like a punch drunk boxer, and we’re all in the firing line. He’ll throw them if he hates you, and he’ll throw them if he loves you. He’s a satirist of exceptional quality."
--Jo Diaz "Juicy Tales by Jo Diaz"
"I must say you are an idiot. I've never liked you. I have no idea why people find you funny."