Monday, April 21, 2014

Salvation Army of Jokes

I seem to have a lot on my mind. When I sit down to write a new piece for HoseMaster of Wine™, I often don’t know where to begin. It’s obvious I also don’t know when to end. I keep a running list of ideas for the blog, and I never run out of ideas, but many of those ideas are not good enough to warrant an entire piece. Which assumes I have any ideas that are worthy of an entire piece. So I thought I’d assemble a few of those random ideas and make a throwaway post out of them, a kind of closet cleaning, taking all the worthless crap to the Salvation Army. You can sift through all of my junk ideas and see if there’s anything you want. Leave a little change on the front counter. It’s all for charity. 

Hey, it's a slow day after Easter, a Monday, time to throw out the trash.

Score Inflation
Does anyone doubt that the major wine publications, not to mention Wine Enthusiast, have inflated wine scores over the past decade? Their explanation is that wines are simply better than they’ve ever been. This might be true, but it’s a stupid argument. If wines are better than they’ve ever been, then adjust the goddam scale. Here’s an analogy. Gymnasts are also better than they’ve ever been. Way better. Almost every woman gymnast now has a more difficult routine, and is better, than Nadia Comăneci was when she scored the first perfect 10 at the 1976 Olympic Games, yet not one of them scored a 10 in the most recent Summer Olympics. Why? They adjusted the scoring, recognizing that the bar for the sport was being set a lot higher as the competitors improved. Why can’t wine writers do the same with wine scores? It would bring some actual meaning back to a 95 point wine when it becomes a rare occurrence. Those thousands and thousands of 89 point wines, why can’t they become 80 point wines? That’s what they are. Wouldn’t it be nice to read a review of a wine and be excited that it got 91 points? No one gives a crap about a 91 point wine any more. That’s like falling twice off the balance beam. The whole team is laughing at you.

Great Pun
My beautiful wife remarked to me the other day, “You’re the Napa Valley Wine Twain.” Not true, but a quality joke.

Why don’t I have a Wikipedia Entry, OR a Facebook HoseMaster of Wine™ Fan Page?
This is a complete mystery to me. I have two, yes, two Wine Blog Awards! I’ve been featured in countless publications, a few of which still exist. I’m a famous sommelier. I bet Raj Parr has a fucking Wikipedia entry. But he’s a kiss-ass, and that’s how it works. Only kiss-asses get Wikipedia entries when they’re alive and not really anybody—Alder probably has one too. So, OK, now I don’t want a stupid Wikipedia page.

The Most Interesting Man in the Wine World
“He can use his tongue in place of an ah-so."

“He’s given an orgasm to every M.W.—blind.”

“He drew the maps for the Cistercian monks.”

“Winery dogs lick his balls.”

“He sabers Champagne with his penis.”

He’s the Most Interesting Man in the Wine World:

“I don’t always drink wine, but when I do, I drink somebody else’s.”

STEVE! A Throwaway Joke

The wine world was surprised by Steve Heimoff's announcement that he was leaving his job as wine critic for Wine Enthusiast to take a position with Jackson Family Estates. The surprise is everyone thought he'd been working there the past ten years.

Wine Blog Leagues
I always think that the wine blog world in the United States should break up into competitive leagues—Western Division, Central Division, Eastern Division and Southern Division. It’s kind of that way anyway, when you think about it, but we should formalize it. And then have playoffs at the end of the year. I know my Western Division would kick ass. I mean, look at our lineup! Heimoff leading off—he’s a pesky little hitter, a guy who knows how to work the count, and with him at the top of the lineup, well, he scores a lot. Then behind him you have Wark, who can hit from both sides of the plate, often at the same time, not with any power, but gets on the other team’s nerves constantly. Alder bats third—sure, he’s way past his prime, but he’ll see even more softballs thrown at him with the HoseMaster batting cleanup! Every Poodle knows the HoseMaster has all the power. Behind me, you’ve got Samantha Sans Dosage—she brings a big bat and isn't afraid to swing it. Hitting sixth is Charlie Olken—easy out, but has a big fan base. W. Blinky bats seventh—constantly and effortlessly strikes out, but, hey, he looks good doing it. I mean, this is a strong team. Some speed at the bottom of the lineup with RJonWine—no one can catch him with 200 wines in front of him, except maybe Alder, but Alder’s lost a step since he’s carrying an M.W. around. And, for gravitas, WakaWaka hits ninth—she has VERY long at-bats, which really wear down the opponents.

The Central Division? What a joke. Nothing but sissies. Alfonso—come on! All talk. Dr. Jeremy Parzen? Oh, please, the guy’s all flab—he put the high Ph in Ph. D. And with the Wine Curmudgeon in the lineup, well, cheap is the active word.

The Eastern Division looks formidable—1WineDoody, Dr. Vino, Lenn Thompson, Evan Dawson, Meg Houston Maker? Looks impressive. But, really, when you take a close look at them, it’s all empty chatter. Not a power hitter in the bunch, just a lot of reputation with nothing to back it up. Yeah, they have Asimov, but it’s a team game. He tries, but he just can’t carry that dead weight East Coast load.

Well, you get the idea. Fun idea, but way too Inside Baseball. But bloggers love to see their names on HoseMaster of Wine™!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The HoseMaster of Wine's™ Wine Class

You don’t have to know much about wine to enjoy it, and you need to know even less to write about it. Knowledge can enhance your pleasure drinking wine, but it gets in the way of writing a wine blog. This is yet another of wine’s mysteries, like why so much wine tastes alike. No one knows why so many wines taste alike, though I think we all agree they do, but it does explain why so many of them receive exactly 89 points. When it comes to wine, shit just works out. You will find that if you become interested in wine, knowing more about it will enhance your experience, deepen your relationship with wine. This is how wine differs from women.

My goal in publishing The HoseMaster of Wine™ Wine Class is simple. I’m tired of answering stupid questions from readers individually, so I’ll answer those idiotic questions here, in a format that won’t single you out as one of the dumbest wine drinkers since Kathy Lee Gifford. At the end of each month’s course, I hope you’ll be encouraged to return, discuss the wines I’ve recommended, and pray to Almighty God I won’t be present in the comments to ridicule your puny and irrelevant “insights.” I think you’ll find that by participating you’ll discover just how little you actually know about wine, and you will begin to keep your thoughts to yourself when among more knowledgeable wine people. I see this as a public service.

As you follow my lead and taste the wines I tell you to, you’ll begin to understand your own tastes and where you have failed to appreciate how much better mine are. Wine can be an intimidating subject, but that’s what makes it worth knowing about. Lots of beverages will get you drunk, but when you know about wine you can use that knowledge to intimidate other people, and that’s where much of the joy of wine lies. If you take my Wine Class seriously, soon you’ll be able to make your superiors look stupid, and, honestly, isn’t that just about the best thing in life? Aside from setting cats on fire?

I taste hundreds upon thousands of wine each year, but tasting is different than drinking, in much the way a food fight is different than eating. When you taste a wine and write about it as a professional, you’re extrapolating from that tiny taste how you think it will go with food, how it will age, and how it measures up against other wines in its category. How is this like a food fight? People throw shit at you when you do it, that’s how. Fat people with powerful wine publications. When you drink, you make all that go away. You can assess the wine with food, learn about it as it evolves over the course of the evening, and maybe work up the courage to tell your critics to fuck themselves with a four-foot ah-so. This is the way to learn about wine.

The class will require some work on your part. Genius. I’d like for you to take notes on each wine. If you want to go all Schildknecht (check Wikipedia under "Logorrhea"), use your imagination, describe smells and tastes that can’t possibly be there. That’s a good way to feel superior to the others, and increase your vocabulary. But, for the most part, I’d recommend you stick to your general impressions of the wine. Is it red, and why? Hold the glass up to the light and admire the legs. Idiot, the legs don't matter, I'm just screwin' with you. Would you describe the aroma as intense or is it delicate? You’re old, how do you know you’re not just losing your sense of smell like so many of our prominent wine critics? Does the aroma change, and if so, did you blame the dog? Would you say the texture is soft and silky like the inside of your mistress’ thighs? Or is it harsh, like the feel of her whip? And why are you so easily aroused, what does that say about you? Finally, what is your overall impression of the wine? Did you find it pleasant or profound? Or did you find it crappy despite knowing you’d be wrong because I selected the wines, you moron, and what do you know? These are all questions I’d like you to entertain, as well as what makes you think anyone will even read your thoughts about wine? There, now you know what it’s like to have your own blog.

My purpose is to get you to think about wine in a way you may never have before, that is, from an educated perspective, not your usual stultifying ignorance. Those of you who are already knowledgeable about wine might find that joining in the discussion will reaffirm your own particular arrogance in a pleasing manner. Perhaps wine’s best quality is its ability to powerfully affirm self-importance. This is certainly reflected in all of the wine world’s major personalities, some of whom should probably be publicly shamed only they’re too drunk most of the time to notice, often appearing in worthless videos dressed in a nun’s habit. Yup, I’m talking to you, Jon Bonné.

Alright, let’s get started. What better wine region to begin with than Bordeaux? Everyone acknowledges that France makes the finest wines in the world. In fact, you’ll find that the countries that make the best wines are the countries that hate Americans the most—France, Germany, Italy and, of course, Napa Valley. There was a time when every beginning wine drinker cut his teeth on Bordeaux. Now no one gives a crap about Bordeaux except the face-obsessed Chinese. But I think that Bordeaux still has a lot to offer the novice because once you discover how overrated the wines are, you have learned a lot about wine. I’ve recommended a few wines, but, truly, considering the ones you can afford, you’ll find that a wine from any vintage from any appellation will disappoint.

Try to match the Bordeaux with a simple meal.  Beef would work, even something so simple as Grandma’s Alpo. Note how the wine enhances, or fails to enhance, the meal. Think about ways you might better have spent the forty bucks the Bordeaux cost you, say by giving Grandma some human food. Everything I’ve mentioned in this beginning column is important to your ultimate appreciation of wine. If at the end of these Wine Classes you don’t feel more comfortable about wine, you’ll have only yourself to blame. I can’t hold your goddam hand all the time.

Finally, don’t worry about the glassware you use. Like you would. Make sure and put lipstick on before you taste or you’ll look like you don’t have any self-respect. Men, mind the backwash, what are you, a hillbilly? Use any glass you like; especially with Bordeaux, it just won’t matter. Worrying about using the proper wine glass when you drink wine is like worrying about what kind of paper bag you put the dog shit in before you light it on fire on your neighbor’s porch. It just doesn’t matter, it’s the quality of what’s in it that counts.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The New Wine Fairy Tales: The Magic Sommelier

Once there was a poor farmer whose only luck in life was that he had three lovely daughters. None of the three looked the least bit like him, which was probably for the best. One daughter had beautiful blonde hair like spun gold, one had raven tresses and almond shaped eyes, while the third daughter was fair-skinned, with hair the color of iron-rich soil. The poor farmer never gave a second thought to how little his daughters looked like him. The poor farmer’s wife had told him that each girl had been conceived under a magic spell from the evil wizard, Viagra. “Just another hard luck story,” the poor farmer’s wife said, “the emphasis on ‘luck’ and ‘hard.’” The poor farmer loved each of his daughters very much.

One day the poor farmer was plowing his field when his plow struck something hard and metallic under the soil.

“What the fuck was that?” said the poor farmer’s draft horse, an emaciated Clydesdale named Pferdie. The “P” was silent, like in sand.

The poor farmer bent down to look, and, there, just barely glinting in the morning sunlight, he could see something made of silver. Using his hands to uncover the buried object, the poor farmer finally revealed a silver tastevin, which he held up for his draft horse to see.

“Oh, Pferdie, it’s just a piece of crap. Shiny, but basically useless. Looks like a diaphragm for Lettie Teague.” What kind of poor fucking farmer reads WSJ? Pretty much every kind.

Before the poor farmer cast the tastevin aside, he couldn’t resist taking out his handkerchief and giving it a quick polish. The poor farmer rubbed and rubbed the tastevin. Before long, after only a handful of strokes, right there in the middle of his barren field, a Magic Sommelier appeared.

“Yikes,” the poor farmer exclaimed, “where did you come from?”

“You summoned me,” the Magic Sommelier said. “I’m a Magic Sommelier. You know how we sommeliers love strokes. We live for strokes. What can I do for you?”

The poor farmer and Pferdie were dumbfounded. What was a sommelier doing in their field? Sure, the poor farmer had walked behind Pferdie for many years plowing his field, so the Magic Sommelier wasn’t the first horse’s ass he’d seen. Yet it was still rather an odd start to the day.

“I’m not sure what you mean, Magic Sommelier. I don’t think there’s anything you can do for me.”

“I have the power, poor farmer, to grant you three wishes. But I warn you, you summoned a sommelier, you should be careful what you wish for.”

The poor farmer immediately thought about his three beautiful and beloved daughters. Maybe a wish for each would be the answer. But as much as he loved his girls, the poor farmer had no idea what to wish for them. Did they want money, or fame, or eternal youth? The poor farmer certainly didn’t want to make a mistake with his three wishes. What if he wished the wrong things for his daughters? What would his wife say? No matter, he didn’t have to worry about her, his wife had said she’d be gone all day under the spell of the evil Viagra, which, she often said, felt like riding Pferdie up a mountain wearing only G-strings for her boobs. Thongs For the Mammaries.

“Hey, poor farmer,” the Magic Sommelier said, “I’ve got other tables. You want the three wishes, or not?”

“Yes,” the poor farmer said, “I do. But I don’t know what to wish for. I have three beautiful daughters, and I want to give them each one wish. Oh, Magic Sommelier, why don’t you choose the wishes for me? That’s what you do, right?”

“Very wise of you, poor farmer. I will pick the perfect wish to go with each of your lovely daughters. But first, of course, I must taste them. Only then will I be able to find the perfect complement for them. It’s how we roll.”

The poor farmer led the Magic Sommelier to his humble cottage, where his three gorgeous daughters were waiting. They’d never seen a Magic Sommelier before.

“What’s that weird thing your neck is holding up,” asked the blonde daughter.

“That’s called a tastevin.”

“No, I know what a tastevin is,” said the blonde, “I meant your face.”

“OK, girls,” the poor farmer said, “you are each to be granted one wish by this Magic Sommelier, but first he must taste each of you. Yeah, I know, creepy, but that’s how he rolls.”

The Magic Sommelier took the gorgeous blonde’s hand and led her into the poor farmer’s bedroom. It didn’t take long, he might be magic, but he’s still a sommelier, before the blonde daughter emerged from the poor farmer’s bedroom, a look of utter dismay on her beautiful face. “What a jackass,” she said. “He asked me if I had a twin sister. He said the best way to taste is to taste double-blonde.”

Next, the poor farmer sent in his raven-haired daughter to be tasted by the Magic Sommelier. She was in the poor farmer’s bedroom for quite a bit longer than her blonde sister. The rest of her family was getting nervous about the time it was taking. But then the sexy raven-haired daughter emerged from the bedroom. She looked satisfied, but her face was covered in mysterious markings. “I think he’s kind of weird,” she said. “He went back for several tastes, and then decorated my face. I’d better get a damned good wish.”

Finally, the radiant redhead daughter entered the poor farmer’s bedroom. She was in there a long time. Funny noises were heard, and the poor farmer feared the presence of the evil Viagra. But he, and his daughters, waited patiently, not wanting to interrupt for fear of breaking the spell and losing the three wishes. When the voluptuous redhead daughter emerged from the poor farmer’s bedroom, she was one hot mess. “I got a lot more than tasted,” the redhead said. “He also probed me with his Magic Meat Thief. Though, really, I was disappointed. More of a Magic Meat Eye-Dropper.”

Before long the Magic Sommelier appeared. He brushed himself off, wiped his face, and started for the door of the cottage.

“Where are you going?” said the poor farmer’s family, all at once. “What about our wishes?”

The Magic Sommelier turned to them with a look of disgust on his face.

“When you summon a Magic Sommelier,” he said, “there are three things you usually expect. Like your blonde daughter, you expect that I will push for a second when you’re not even done with the first. Like your raven-haired daughter, you expect huge mark-ups. And, third, like your redheaded daughter, you expect to get fucked.

“All of what you expected came true. Your three subliminal wishes have been granted.”

With that, the Magic Sommelier vanished. That’s how they roll.