Monday, December 5, 2016

Ask Sid Heil, Your White Supremacist Sommelier!

As a young boy, Sid Heil decided he wanted to make wine his career. “My Dad taught me that white people had invented wine, and that it was an industry that was still about 99% white. But that was a long time ago, and things have changed. That might not be the case any longer. It’s probably only 97% white now. Bunch of Yao Ming types buying property, which nobody seems to care. None of those on my wine list.”

I have no idea what's wrong with me. This premise occurred to me over lunch with my beautiful wife, but I was very uncertain whether I could make it work. A few minutes later, the name "Sid Heil" jumped into my head, and I knew that the piece was demanding to be written. In a strange way, it's connected to my feelings about how sexist, even misogynist, the wine business is. If it can be misogynist, why not bigoted? And so it goes...

You'll have to jump over to Tim Atkin's award-winning site to finish reading the post. I wasn't sure Tim was going to accept the piece, truthfully, but he loved it. It says much about his character, and his four-year support of my HoseMaster nonsense. I hope I get to meet the man one day.

As ever, please feel free to leave your brilliant comments on Tim's site, or come back here and leave your remarks while disguised under a big tall, white hat.


Monday, November 28, 2016

R.--I.P.OB: The Death of Balance

OK, so here’s what sucks. Now no one is going to pursue balance anymore. That’s it? Five lousy years and now, the hell with it, I’m just not going to pursue balance again? It’s pretty depressing. For five years I knew where to find wines with balance. There was a list! These guys and girls are pursuing balance! I want a balanced wine? Easy. Read the In Pursuit of Balance list. Buy those wines. Not on the list? Run!!! Those are wines of the unbalanced, especially Bonny Doon.

Oh, Jasmine and Raj, my friends, my mentors, how did the romance end? Who gets custody of the little ones, like Jon Bonné? Where are the true believers to turn? First, Parker and Galloni, then Brad and Angelina, and now this?! You’re turning my wine world upside down! I don’t know where to turn for points, or Rosé, and now Balance. I’m a wreck. I’m drinking wines from the Jura, for God’s sake. And so I left behind a note… I was in a wine shop the other day LOOKING AT ZINS FROM LODI!! Jesus, what the hell? They’ve got the balance of a dead Wallenda. I BOUGHT THE TOP 100 WINES ISSUE OF WINE SPECTATOR! God, somebody help me. It’s only pure luck that all those Top 100 wines are always sold out, and only suckers buy that issue. Which makes sense, Rajmine (see what I did there? I brangelized you two, Raj and Jasmine, desperately hoping you’ll get back together), because IPOB, well, it made a sucker out of me. Out of all of us.

It’s just not fair. Before you came along, Rajmine, I didn’t have any idea what balance was. But then I started to taste the wines you recommended, and I suddenly knew. Balance is simple. Mostly, it’s about how little I now have in my checking account after buying the wines you recommended.

What was especially nice was that you took the trouble to define balance for me, Rajmine. I’ll confess, I was faking it. It turns out, balance is like orgasms. Wineries were faking balance! Oh sure, they’d look you in the eye and say their wines were balanced, but you just knew they were faking it. You’d gone to the trouble of putting it in your mouth, pretending you liked that, so the wineries would fake balance just to tell you what you wanted to hear. Now, thanks to you, I know better. Just like an orgasm, once you experience the real thing, well, you can’t be fooled again. Right? Not that that’s anything I have to worry about. I’m a guy. Women don’t have orgasms, right? Not that I've seen. Not real ones, not the messy kind, right? I’M CONFUSED! DAMMIT, RAJMINE! IPOB is just like me in bed—finished far too soon. I still need you.

I only heard FROM SOMEBODY ELSE that it was all over between you. OK, fine, it’s personal, but I think I deserved better. I have to read about your breakup on the GODDAM INTERNET?! Sorry. But it hurts. Other people writing about it like they meant something to you. People saying that in your short life, FIVE FUCKING YEARS, THAT’S IT?, you did a lot of good. Saying that you changed the conversation. WHAT CONVERSATION?! I don’t remember any conversation. Where was I? Was there some sort of new conversation about balance that I wasn’t invited to join? You didn’t change any conversation. You tried to end the goddam conversation. “Hey, idiots! We know what balance is, and you don’t. End of conversation.” I guess that’s changing the conversation, sort of like how Pierce’s disease changes grapevines.

Look, I’m sorry, I’m a little out of sorts, right now. I mean, a huge part of my world just crumbled. It’s scary out there now. NO ONE IS PURSUING BALANCE, PEOPLE! What if they suddenly announced, “We’ve given up trying to find a cure for cancer?” How would that make you feel? Especially if you had cancer! Think about that for a minute. All of these stupid wines that don’t have balance, that weren’t officially declared to have balance, WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY SUPPOSED TO DO NOW, RAJMINE? Just give up? Try crackpot cures for balance? I mean, after biodynamics, where the hell can crackpot cures go? And it’s all on you, Rajmine. We just have that one lousy list. I’ve tasted most of the wines on that list. Wow, are they fucking balanced! You can’t fake that. Right? You said they were balanced, so they’re balanced. BY DEFINITION! Now, next step, TRY TO TASTE GOOD, TOO! How about In Pursuit of Taste? Though IPOT sounds more like an acronym for my diet plan. Oh, hell, let’s face it,  having balance AND taste are just too much to ask of most wines.

OK, I guess it’s my fault, too. I took you for granted, Rajmine. I’m sorry. I selfishly assumed that you’d always be here to tell me which wines were balanced. I didn’t see the warning signs. The little quarrels, the cold silences, the limelight turning more toward those fruits and nuts in the natural wine movement. Hey, they stole your bit! Creating a fake movement in order to generate attention and sales, that’s your routine! And then they stole your champions. They went out on the free agent market and went big on Asimov and Bonné. And what did that leave you? Nothing but minor leaguers. So maybe you just cut your losses and ended the whole thing. I get it. You must have been tired of it. All the infighting, and all the losers clamoring to get in. It must have been tiring constantly telling people, I DON’T LIKE YOUR WINE! YOU DON’T BELONG HERE! FIGURE OUT YOUR OWN GODDAM MARKETING STRATEGY! Which, in a word, is “Balance.”

But think about this, Rajmine. You left us without a definition of Balance. Yeah, you pursued it. Like Hillary pursued the White House. Five years of pursuing that ends in a big fat zero. I went to the rallies, I drank the Kool-Aid, I campaigned, I donated, I believed, I believed, I believed. And then I wake up in November and you’re conceding defeat. Just walking away with a pathetic little farewell speech. Leaving it all behind.

You’re just like Hillary, Rajmine. Cold, calculating, self-interested, and leaving us behind to deal with the unbalanced.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Flying the Friendly Skies

Here’s what I’ve been feeling the past few weeks.

We were on this large jet flying to somewhere beautiful, some sort of Paradise, we thought, when it was hijacked and now it’s headed toward a skyscraper. We had no idea there were even hijackers aboard, though we should have known, they’d been making a lot of noise back here in economy class. We certainly didn’t think they could overpower us, take over the plane and fly it into a building. If I’d known the pilot had orange hair, I’d have stayed at the airport. My mother always told me, “Never get on a plane with a pilot with orange hair. Nothing good can come of it.” What’s odd is that the hijackers seem exuberant about going down with us in a burst of inescapable flames. It will take years to clean up the wreckage.

The rest of this week's sermon appears on Wine Journal over at the Wine Advocate site. The rest of the piece wanders about quite a bit, going from Asimov to Kermit the Lynch, and lands on a heartfelt wish that all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

You can't leave comments there, but I'd love to hear your feedback here. Everywhere I go, friends, people remark that the best part of HoseMaster of Wine™ is the Comments Section. Oh, they're just flattering me, but it's true. Thank you, Common Taters, one and all.