“…any food product that feels compelled to tell you it’s natural in all likelihood is not.”—-Michael Pollan
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Is That MegaPurple, Or Are You Just Happy to See Me?
There is one important way that wine is like food—the cheaper it is, the more manipulated it is. But that’s the way we like it. Americans don’t like surprises. This explains 9-11. And condoms. When we buy a bottle of cheap wine, we don’t care about the vintage or the appellation, we just care that it tastes like it did the last time we bought it, five years ago. Just like we want McDonald’s french fries to always taste like salty cardboard regardless of where in the world we’re eating them. If they taste like potatoes, they’re disgusting. If cheap wine tasted like quality wine, that would be a horrible mistake. All that character getting in the way of the alcohol? That seems pointless. Winemakers understand this, and go to great lengths to manipulate those inexpensive wines into tasting as unobtrusive and bland as possible. How do they do this? They add stuff. Same as they do to cheap food.
There are many wine blogs devoted to “Great Wines Under $20.” Let’s get something straight. There are no great wines under $20. There are fools who think there are, but, for God’s sake, don’t believe them. The wines they recommend are not, never have been, and never will be, Great Wines any more than the new James Patterson piece of shit is a Great Book. So shut the hell up about “Great Wines Under $20.” Cheap and easy to understand doesn’t equate to great. If it did, my idiot cousin would be on Mount Rushmore. It demeans the hard work of the great vintners of the world to refer to cheapass, manipulated wines as “Great.” Even if you need to feel good about drinking Great Wines Under $20 all the time, and not knowing the difference, you don’t need to insult the truly great wines of the world, or the intelligence of your readers. What’s wrong with “Wines I Like Under $20?” We know you’re an idiot, and can take that into account. “Great Wines Under $20,” for fuck’s sake. That’s like shopping on Craig’s List for Bargain Plastic Surgery. It’s cheap dick enhancement.
I know, most of you believe in the “romance” of wine, the compost heap that marketing departments sell under the guise of “telling the winery’s story.”
We lovingly tend our beautiful and historic vineyards, coaxing the best out of them. We hire happy little brown people who sing and prance as they harvest the precious grapes. We don’t know where these little brown people come from, they just magically appear each year, despite the gunfire. Each cluster is praised and admired as we prepare it to meet its maker. Gently crushed, like your teenage daughter’s heart, it transforms itself, under our ever-watchful eyes, into Great Wine, which we bottle and reluctantly sell to our friends. We are mere stewards of the land, and too humble to intervene in this mystical process of transformation. We don’t make our wines, our wines make us.
Yup, and California cheese comes from contented cows. Why are they content? Their farts are causing climate change and killing humans, that’s why. Damned bovines.
Let’s take a brief look at some of the more popular wine additives, and what they add to wine.
Gum Arabic, which is made from the sap of two species of Acacia tree, so it’s tree bodily fluid, is added to wines to enhance texture. As an alternative, many wineries in Lodi add Maple syrup to their Zinfandels in order to receive high scores from Mrs. Butterworth, who writes under the name Natalie MacLean.
Most wines that are referred to as being “silky” can attribute that quality to just a splash of WD-40 added right before bottling. Many inexpensive Priorats can repair rusty locks. Pouring Apothic down your pants can unstick your zipper. This is a little celebrated quality of manipulated silky wines, but one you should explore. No tool kit is complete without a bottle of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc.
Often added to German Riesling, it helps with mileage. As they say in Germany, there’s no fuel like and old fuel. Or sometimes, petrol for one, and one for all. Germans are hilarious.
Small amounts of copper sulfate may be added to a wine in order to remove hydrogen sulfides, which cause wine to smell like rotten eggs. Copper sulfate in sufficient quantity is poisonous to humans, but no more so than Sarah Palin, who, unsurprisingly, is also redolent of very old eggs. But don’t worry about copper sulfate specifically, wine is filled with poison. It’s called alcohol. Luckily, the antidote is readily available, and involves driving home.
Powdered tannin is sometimes added to red wine to help fix color and add grip. Sadly, Michael Jackson tried this and, well, you know the result. He obviously lost his grip. The same additive is occasionally used on donuts, which then go great with Barolo.
James Earl Jones Voiceover
Often added to make an expensive wine seem classier. Cheaper wines use a high dosage of Morgan Freeman. Adding voiceovers is technically illegal in Europe, though they do allow the use of ventriloquists.
MegaPurple is a grape concentrate made from the hybrid grape Rubired. Manufactured by the wine conglomerate Constellation, it’s often added to red wine in order to ruin it. A single drop, however, is said to make any orange wine significantly better—bang, it’s even more orange! MegaPurple is also a common substitute for Viagra. If after consuming a glass of The Prisoner your erection lasts for more than four hours, consult a sommelier. That’ll make anyone go flaccid.
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.