"Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful."--Molly Ivins
Monday, December 10, 2012
The HoseMaster's Letter to Santa
You were so good to me last Christmas. I got everything I asked for! Even The Alice Feiring Make Your Own Natural Wine Kit™, complete with the Frank Cornelissen inflatable doll! Funny place to put the oral inflation valve, but I guess that’s where Alice likes it. You even brought me a signed copy of Rudy K.’s new mystery novel, “The BurgHound of the Baskervilles.” I never saw the ending coming at all. Experts being fooled by fraudulent wines! Who’s ever heard of such a thing? Usually they’re fooled by ordinary wines. What a twist! So, thank you, Santa, it was my best Christmas ever. And what will I do with that fabulous collection of wines that was under the tree? Every single Jay Miller 100 point wine! Maybe I should do what my hero Dr. Miller would do! Ask for money and then lose myself in a bucket of foie gras.
This year, Santa, I don’t want anything for myself. Really. Life has been so generous and wonderful to me. I don’t need a single thing. Sure, I’d like to live long enough to see wine print publications die, but that’s not your department. But, although I don’t want any gifts for the HoseMaster this year, I do want to ask you for some things for the wine business, some things I think it desperately needs. Christmas is a time to focus on the less fortunate, and no one, Santa, considers themselves less fortunate than people in the wine business.
Would it be possible, Santa, to end the arguing about natural, authentic, and real wines versus just plain old wine? It makes me sad. Sometimes I can’t sleep at night because the arguing gets so bad and I’m fearful I’ll never be able to drink wine again without wondering if something terrible is in it, like flavor. The natural wine people scare me, Santa, they’re so sad and hopeless. They want to fix everybody, make them see that they’re horrible people if they don’t agree with their standards. They’re like Al-Qaeda, but, tragically, minus the suicide bombers. They’re so nervous all the time, these poor people. Nervous that people are adding stuff to their wine that will hurt them, as if it isn’t the alcohol that will kill them first. Nervous that wine will become too easy to understand for ordinary people and they’ll be rendered useless and unimportant, like James Suckling. Nervous that no one outside of their own flock cares what they think or ever will. Is it any wonder they’re all so short and skinny? They tremble like those little Chihuahuas that Paris Hilton uses as personal vibrators. They need your help this Christmas, Santa.
Can you just make it so we talk about wine on its own merit? That’s what I want for Christmas, Santa. That there be no Natural Wine, or Authentic Wine, or Real Wine, but that there just be Good Wine. That we judge a wine not by its upbringing or color, but by the content of its character. OK, I stole that from the great wine leader, Martin Luther Ray, but it’s important. Who gets to be the judge of whether a wine is “real?” (Bad enough I have to worry about Real Mayonnaise.) All these sad doomsayers who have found a hobby horse and are going to ride that poor nag until its hooves turn to dog food, or the special at Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen? Have any of them ever found a “real” wine that sucks? Not that I can tell. They’re too busy preaching the gospel to those other sad souls who think they can save the wine world by the force of their expectorations to exercise any discernment. If it’s natural, it’s good. And they can’t be fooled! There’s an “energy” to authentic wines. It’s that same energy harnessed to make the miracle that is the Magic Eight Ball and Ouija Boards. Sad folks, Santa. Can you make them see that there is an artificial ingredient in every wine? It’s called sales and marketing.
And, Santa, I’m really worried about all of these people I read about on the Internet who are going all alone on wine journeys but don’t know where the hell they’re going. They want me to join them on their journey to discover wine, but I don’t want to go. Could you find someone to help them, Santa? Maybe give them personalities or original thoughts? Or maybe you could get the Real Wine mujahideen to take them on a journey to Afghan wine country where they can be trained as Authentic disciples. No one would miss them. Oh, Santa, I’m so confused. So many people on wine journeys and so many of them lost. Can you help them, Santa? Give them all copies of Wilfred Wong’s new book, “Me Love Wine Long Time.” I can’t get my work done thinking about all of these hapless and unimaginative people on a journey. What will they do when they need their wits? Borrow a cup? Help them, Santa, please. They’re the homeless people of the wine world, wandering on a demented journey and filling the dead air with mindless and confused babbling that only they can make sense of while pushing a shopping cart filled with their dreary lives. Can you make it so we treat them like our far-too-numerous homeless? Shove them where no one can see them? I’d appreciate it, Santa.
There’s so much I want for the wine business, Santa. I won’t expect you to fix everything. But even just a few of my wishes granted would help. I know you’re busy; Alderpated wants more junkets and more respect, like those two go together, and Jenna Talia Baiocchi wants panties with different grape varieties embroidered on them (I love the one that says “Cot Naked!”). But can you also make the cork versus Stelvin controversy just go away? It’s not good for everyone to fight over closures. There’s room for all of them. Is it really necessary for Stelvin to plaster their new motto all over the media? “Stelvin—When You’re Too Fucking Drunk to Use a Corkscrew!” It’s so divisive, like that despicable Senator who said that women who get raped should “be like a cheap bottle of wine and get unscrewed.” Everyone is a loser in this debate. Can you just make it go away, Santa, please, for me?
I’ve been a good boy all year. I’ve been nice to everyone. Ask anybody. I don’t want anything for myself, Santa. I just want for the wine world what I give to everyone in it, love and understanding.
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
"...With sometimes crude analogies and occasional droppings of f-bombs, Washam cleverly uses satire to expose the underbelly of the wine business. It's often hilarious stuff as long as you're not the one being lampooned. Washam takes no prisoners in skewering all that is silly, stupid, frustrating and pretentious about wine, and his favorite targets are other bloggers and writers. No one is immune."
--Linda Murphy in "Vineyard and Winery Management"
"No one is immune from California sommelier and wine judge Ron Washam's skewering. He polishes that skewer with boundless enthusiasm and acuity." --JancisRobinson.com
"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."
--Reign of Terroir
Robert (Joseph) was/is funny unlike HoseMaster who wasn't/isn't.