It’s a question from wine novices that comes up repeatedly. Just how do we know how long to age our wine critics? Furthermore, how can we tell which wine critics will age well, and which will fall apart? Are there any guidelines? I believe there are, and the best way to understand them is to look at wine critics of various ages we have now for clues as to how wine critics age. However, there is no exact measure, and certainly no guarantee. Many promising wine critics will mysteriously become dull and lifeless with age, though, in most cases, they were duller than Spätburgunder to begin with, and you were simply fooled by their slick packaging.
To better understand aging wine critics, you'll have to follow the monthly HoseMaster link to Tim Atkin's site. Tell him I said hello. Nice guy. Funny accent, but friendly. And while you're there, leave something witty behind. A choice comment, or something you stole from an internet site. Or, if you must, leave a choice little gift for me, all wrapped in a brown paper bag and set on fire.
Are you new to wine? Do you want to learn about wine from someone who knows only the teeniest bit more than you? Isn’t that the way you prefer to learn, from someone just a little bit smarter than you? What if you wanted to become a surgeon? Medical school is so expensive, and the teachers there talk way over your head! Surgery doesn’t have to be just for brainiacs! Why not just learn from the local butcher? Surgery is just knives and meat. Start there. But you don’t want to be a surgeon, you want to learn about wine. That’s why Wine Folly is here! No brainiacs allowed! We’re Wine Folly. We’re the knives, and you’re the meat! Let’s get started.
I’m Madeline Puckette, and I’m just like you. I like to get drunk and make videos! And I figured out how to create a wine empire for people just like us, people who want our wine knowledge to be shallow, but good enough to make our craft beer drinking friends think we’re cool. I make wine simple because I know you’re simple. I even use a really large typeface for Wine Folly so that it’s easier to use your fingers to read it. I never take the intelligence of my fans for granted. I just assume you’re reading Wine Folly because you don’t have much. And, dammit, that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying and understanding wine! Other wine websites use all these big words that are confusing. Not here. I make wine simple. And I never forget that my fans are like privileged white kids with powerful attorneys—I always give you really short sentences.
You’ll find lots of neat graphics on Wine Folly, too! At first, they might not make sense. But stay with it, maybe read along with a friend who has a high school diploma. The graphics are a way to make wine easier to understand. For example, you might read in one of those hard wine books with hardly any pictures that wine is about 85% water, 14% alcohol, and 1% minerals and acids and stuff like that. I know, that’s not easy to understand for me either. What exactly does that mean, 85% and 14% and all that? So I made a pie chart! Don’t you love pie charts? I like them almost as much as I like real pie (oh, yes, I forgot to mention that I’m really funny, too). If you don’t know what a pie chart is, you will! I’m all about pie charts. A pie chart is a chart in the shape of a pie. We call it “round.” A wine can be “round,” too, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves! That’s advanced wine talk. On my “round” pie chart I divide the circle into three parts. The biggest part is the 85% part, and it’s labeled “water.” This would be the part of the pie Robert Parker eats! Another part, a lot smaller, says “alcohol.” This is the little part of the pie that I might eat, and maybe throw it up later when no one’s looking. Finally, a little sliver is the “minerals, acids and other junk” part. Give that little piece to the wino downtown. See! That’s so much easier to understand. Simple, right? Wine is mostly water like Wine Folly is mostly empty space.
Now hop on over to Amazon and buy my new book, “Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine.” Don’t be scared that it’s 240 pages! You can read the whole book in about 20 minutes. Well, maybe not you. It’s jampacked with pie charts, and graphs, and the sorts of illustrations you find on absolutely the finest cocktail napkins! Many of them took several minutes on the internet to research. Look, you can buy 50 different beginner wine books on Amazon, and they all say the same things. There’s absolutely nothing new here. Not in those books, and sure as hell not in mine. But “Wine Folly” has all my pie charts and graphs! They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Oh, don’t let that intimidate you. My pictures are only worth five or six!
You’re going to learn so much about wine from my books and videos! For example, I help you understand how to taste a wine. First, you need to smell it. This is from my book:
“Hold your glass just under your nose and sniff once to ‘prime’ your nose. Then swirl your wine once and smell again. This time, smell the wine longer and slower but just as delicately. Switch between sniffing and thinking.”
This is how even MWs and MSs smell wine. You can’t be expected to sniff and think at the same time! No one can do that. It’s why we hold our breath when we’re trying to figure out the crossword puzzles in “Highlights for Children.” And it’s important you just swirl the wine once. Wine can get dizzy, and then it gets all confused. Hey, you haven’t even bought my book yet and already you’re a lot smarter about wine!
I don’t like to brag, but what sets me apart from the other people writing about wine is that I don’t feel the need to be right all the time. Wine isn’t about facts. You get that. The whole reason to have a wine blog and to write a wine book is to show people that none of that stuff really matters. Facts, in fact (oh, I can’t help it, I’m just pixieish and funny), are just like wine. Pick the ones you like and just ignore the other ones. I try to make it into a game. See if you can figure out what facts are actually facts, and which ones I’m ignoring. Smart people get bogged down in details, which is just so stupid. But when you read Wine Folly, don’t worry, there’s no smart people here!
I think close enough is good enough. Like I’m close enough to a wine expert that you should buy my book. Like in one of my informative videos I compare an Oregon Pinot Noir to a California Pinot Noir. Which was fun because I had no idea what I was talking about. So the California Pinot Noir was a William Hill Pinot Noir from the Central Coast. I don’t know what that means. Central Coast? That’s vague. A Coast is really long, and a Central is really small. WTF? So I mentioned that when a wine label says Central Coast the grapes could come from anywhere from all the way up in Mendocino to all the way down to Santa Barbara. See there! Close enough! If you don’t know that’s way off, then your stupid Millennial friends won’t know either. And, come on, Mendocino is only a few hundred miles off! And it’s not like I didn’t know Oregon was near Canada somewhere.
My book is the top-selling wine book on Amazon! Suck it Jancis and Karen! You spend years and years writing your books and I write mine over the weekend. I guess we know who the best wine writer in the world is now. Ask Geoff Kruth MS, or“The Washington Post,” or all the other really smart people who put my book in their Best Wine Books of the Year lists. Those hypocrites. They know. Facts just don’t really matter.
Here we go, a January tradition. This year, pay closer attention...
ABV DOESN’T MATTER, BOZO!
Ooooh, a new study shows that the alcohol percentage listed on bottles of wine is usually wrong, and more often than not is higher than listed! So the fuck what? You don’t need to chime in and act like this matters to you, or anyone else. “The label says it’s 14.6%, but when we analyzed the wine it was 14.9%!” Listen to me, No One Cares. We talked about this last year! We drink wine for the alcohol, so who cares if what it says on the label is wrong? Pedantic, uptight, anal-retentive jerkoffs, that’s who. Lazy ass “journalists” who can’t think of anything actually interesting to write about. Oh, maybe the label misleads me and I get pulled over by the Highway Patrol and the officer giving me the Breathalyzer doesn’t believe me when I say, “If I’d known the Chardonnay was actually 15.6% ABV instead of 14.9% like the label said, I wouldn’t have had that fourth glass.” Yeah, that could happen. And maybe the officer is a babe who asks you to drop your pants and offers to give you the alternative Fartalyzer test. I took one recently and blew a .12, and all the candles out on a birthday cake. The alcohol percentage on almost every goddam bottle of wine is wrong! There are actual reasons for that, but it isn’t important. Don’t worry about it. Don’t even look at it. Ignore it. People who pick up a bottle of wine and believe the alcohol percentage listed on the label is accurate are the same fools who think wine aerators work. Is that who you want reading your wine blog? Those morons? Don’t write about goddam alcohol percentages. You sound like an idiot, and you don’t know what you’re talking about.
YOU’RE JUST NOT INFLUENTIAL, GET OVER IT!
And when some utterly unread and worthless blog publishes a list of The 100 Most Influential Wine Bloggers and your creepy little compendium of masturbatory musings makes the list, have the common sense to ignore it. There are no Influential Wine Bloggers! It’s stupid to think there are. You get 20,000 hits per month and you’re influential? I guess that makes NFL wives influential, then. Or your crack pipe, if you believe that shit. A list like that is like a list of The 100 Most Powerful Homeless People. They’re homeless! How much power can they have? Bloggers are the wine business’ homeless people—always asking for handouts, free alcohol and warm places to sleep, then wondering why no one wants to make eye contact with them. Plus, they smell bad. And you’re #87 on the list! Congratu-fucking-lations! I’d be crowing about that, too, right after I finished bragging about how I got one number right in the PowerBall lottery. Just write your little blog, don’t bother us with how impressed some other loser is with your influence. It’s boring, and it’s unbecoming to someone with so much awesome power!
PARIS TASTING, ON THE SPURRIER OF THE MOMENT
Here’s another subject to avoid—2016 is the 40th anniversary of the Paris tasting. Great, you can do math! You weren’t there, you’ve never tasted any of the wines that were judged, everything you know about it comes from the movie “Bottle Shock…” Which means you don’t know shit from Sassicaia. Wow, a bunch of French wine experts were fooled! How often does that happen? Every week? Every time Michel Bettane publishes? No one wants to read your thoughts about how that tasting changed the course of history. Basically because you’ll just parrot the same crap that’s been said about the Paris tasting for the last fucking forty years! Did it change the course of California wine? I guess you could say that. I mean, groups of stupid people can change history, look at the OJ Simpson jury and the Hollywood Foreign Press. If it weren’t for the Paris tasting, would there be an Opus One? So, yeah, thanks a lot French judges. It doesn’t matter, just don’t publish anything about the Paris tasting on your wine blog—what the hell can you say about it that matters, or that hasn’t been said better by people with a lot more talent than you have? It was a blind tasting and the California wines did a little better. What does that prove? You know how every idiot says that he and his friends had a tasting of Cabernets and the cheapest wine won? So, like that. It was a bunch of French judges in 1976, a very bad jury of your pères. Let it pass.
96 TIERS MINUS 93 TIERS EQUALS SHUT THE HELL UP
And we get it, the three-tier system of wine distribution sucks. Wow, there you go, sticking your neck out with those outside-the-box opinions! Those giant distributors are squeezing out the little guys like so many butt pimples. Which makes it harder for all the smaller, boutique wineries to get representation and distribution. Which means it takes those wineries years to learn that there’s no demand for the mediocre crap they’re making when it used to take only months. That doesn’t seem fair. And it means that you may only have tens of thousands of wines to choose from instead of hundreds of thousands, which matters, even if you always buy the same eight wines most of the time. If you live in a state that doesn’t allow wine shipments—MOVE, asshole! Though if you’re in the state next to Utah, man, you’re going to wish there were more Syrians available.
I PREDICT YOUR PREDICTIONS ARE BORING
Do you really feel the need every year to predict wine trends? You’re suddenly wine’s Nostradamus? I predict you’re going to end up with a horse’s head in your bed if you keep it up, and I’m wine’s Cosa Nostradamus. Every fucking blog had the same four stupid predictions. Hey, I know, next year let’s predict the calendar. My prediction? This year, April is going to show up right around late March. You heard it here first. Idiots. You’re barely in the wine business. You write a wine blog, for hump’s sake. Believing your predictions for what’s going to happen in the wine business in the coming year is like believing Ted Cruz is going to be the President of Canada, which would be nice because who the hell cares about Canadians? So resist the urge to predict wine trends. You’re full of shit, you know it, we all know it, and you should just stick to what you do best. Plagiarism.
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.
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..."
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--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.