When a Satiric Wine Writer Gets Taken Seriously


In 2016, Donald Trump was elected President of the United  States, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, and the HoseMaster of Wine won a Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Award. Which was the unlikeliest? The answer is (D): all of the above.

For the past six years, as part of my prison release program (I received a 10-year sentence for impersonating a sommelier, which is what I thought sommeliers do), I’ve been writing a satiric wine blog called HoseMaster of Wine. There’s a chance you’ve heard of me. I’m relatively famous in the wine business, sort of like how Pauly Shore is a celebrity. Proof there is no God.

I began my blog after being stunned by the misinformation and lack of talent in most wine blogs. I went after wine bloggers relentlessly, somewhat famously remarking that wine blogs were just the attention-barking of lonely poodles. There are still upset poodles that won’t hump my leg.

Bloggers were easy targets. Once I had rediscovered my comedy writing voice (it turned out to be behind the refrigerator), I began to use it on more famous wine targets. I insulted accredited masters with abandon. I lampooned every great wine writer, as well as Jay McInerney.

In the grand tradition of satire, I didn’t hold back on the profanity, raucousness, tastelessness or buffoonery. I wrote for myself, which isn’t easy when you’re functionally illiterate. I never pulled punches, and my background in the wine business gave me some authority. Slowly, I was discovered. I became infamous.

You might be surprised to learn that wine blogs don’t make any money. They’re like your brother-in-law: They exist to call attention to themselves and borrow cash. I write for the simple pleasure of creating something that will make people laugh. But not at themselves, because who likes that? No, we’re meant to laugh at other people (that’s why they exist, after all). Turns out most people in the wine business are like Chardonnay—thin-skinned and white.

You might be surprised to learn that wine blogs don’t make any money. They’re like your brother-in-law: They exist to call attention to themselves and borrow cash.

Four years ago, the great British wine writer Tim Atkin, MW, asked me to write a monthly piece for his website. He insisted I nominate myself for a Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Award. I told him that I was more likely to win the Kentucky Derby—then be put out to stud.

One day last year, I awoke to a message from Tim that I was on the short list for an award alongside writers the caliber of Andrew Jefford and Jane Anson. Which is like Howie Mandel having a byline in the New York Times. It was an honor to be nominated, but I really wanted to win. Let’s face it, just being nominated is for losers.

The awards ceremony was held in London. I didn’t attend. I was told that when my name was announced as the winner, a great roar of approval went up. I attribute this to indigestion. The room was filled with famous people in the wine business, nearly all of whom I had insulted. Yet, I was named “Online Communicator of the Year. ”

The art of satire was finally given a seat at the wine-writing table. It just goes to show you that insulting people, belittling people and adopting an arrogant stance will take you right to the top. You know, I hate to complain, but Trump stole my act.

A recovering sommelier, Ron Washam writes the syndicated HoseMaster of Wine column.

Published on April 5, 2017
Topics: Wine Culture