Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Alice's Adventures in Naturaland

Chapter One: Down the Rabbit Hole

Alice was getting very tired of sitting by herself on the bank. Though she was usually by herself, unless she was at a wine tasting. But Alice didn’t like wine tastings, especially blind wine tastings. It was just so easy to be fooled, and Alice didn’t like being fooled. Unless she didn’t know she was being fooled, and then she quite enjoyed it. “If they tell me the wine is natural,” Alice thought, “then I quite believe them. When I taste one blind and say it’s natural, and it’s not, then I look stupid. Better to err on the side of ignorance,” Alice thought, “than to have an air of ignorance.” She was quite clever that way.

Oh, I don't know, I was reading the classic Lewis Carroll work, and just felt an irresistible urge to have some fun with "Alice in Wonderland." Seemed appropriate to have it appear in the UK, on Tim Atkin's site. It was fun to write (which isn't the case usually) because it was fun to dissect Carroll's work, enjoy his relentless punning and cunning and then try to imitate it. I'd forgotten what a brilliant work of literature "Alice" is.

For the rest of Chapter One, you'll have to head over to Tim Atkin's place. Do feel free to leave comments there, or, if you'd prefer, leave them here with a small tag that says, "Eat me." Wouldn't be the first time someone told me that.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Our Forgotten Wine Critics (A Post for Berry Bros. & Rudd)

I have to confess that I was completely astonished when the lovely Sophie Thorpe contacted me on behalf of the legendary British wine merchants Berry Bros & Rudd and commissioned me to write a satirical piece for their wonderful wine blog, a blog with actual content. How is that even a wine blog? After a brief negotiation, which involved far too much weeping on my part, I came up with "Our Forgotten Wine Critics." You can find it here.

I feel honoured to have been asked. There's a kind of acceptance for what I'm doing here at HoseMaster of Wine™ that is heartening and encouraging. I'm grateful for the recognition. What's surprising, to some extent, is that I'm much more "accepted" in the U.K. than I am in the U.S. Or maybe Berry Bros & Rudd is hoping to get sued, too.

Please click over to their blog, where you'll find my piece. This may be a one-off for me, but I'm hoping they'll occasionally commission some work from me in the future. It helps, of course, if they get a lot of traffic from my appearance. So here it is, my inaugural piece for the esteemed Berry Bros & Rudd, "Our Forgotten Wine Critics."


Monday, April 25, 2016

The Master of Natural Wine Certification (MNW)

You’ve been waiting patiently for it, and now it has finally arrived. A wine credential you can be proud of. A wine credential for a new era in wine. The only wine credential that will matter in 2020. And you can be one of the very first to qualify to be a Master of Natural Wine!

Let’s face it, most wine credentials aren’t worth a thing anymore. Yes, there was a time when having those letters after your name had meaning in the wine business. It was important to be an MW. It gave you a certain gravitas in the biz, inspired admiration and wonder. Nowadays, everyone you meet has a CSW, a WSET, an MS, or an MW. Kids are trading them online like so many Pokemons. Those countless credentials are basically the celebrity sex tape of the wine business—a way to show you’re important because people want to see how you were screwed. Some people even go so far as to get TWO credentials, a kind of wine biz double penetration. No one sees those credentials as relevant anymore. Meeting someone with a wine credential is a lot like meeting someone who’s still a travel agent. Really, you think, people still want to be one of them? They survive on nostalgia, like vinyl records and missionary sex. Many people have donated their wine credential letters to their local homeless shelter where they are handed out to winos who can use them to get free passes into industry wine tastings. It’s very hard to tell the hobos from the local wine buyers at most tastings these days, though the bums tend to be more polite and have more buying power.

Into the fray over worthless wine credentials steps Master of Natural Wine. The M.N.W. program is the first of its kind, and destined to become the only truly important wine credential. Society is only now facing the frightening truths of climate change. Consumers are spending more time and more money on products that have very low impact on the environment, that are healthier and better for the planet. Or at least make those claims. No one really cares if the claims are true, and no one really investigates either. A wine has to be “natural” only insomuch as the consumer believes it’s “natural.” And that’s where we come in. As an MNW, you’re an arbiter of what’s natural in winemaking, you’re a gatekeeper, you’re an authority! We give you the tools to be able to promote natural wines, and do so with a straight face! No other program can do that.

Here’s what a few of our recent candidates, newly minted MNWs, have to say about our program:

“I used to hate Natural Wines, but it wasn’t until I sat for the MNW exam that I understood why. The days when wine was about pleasure, about sensuality, about joy, are over. Wine isn’t about that anymore. Wine always reflects life in the current culture; and in the current culture, life is just one, long, incomprehensible chemistry test. I proudly proclaim my MNW as proof that I’ve failed that exam.”—Noah de Sulfites MNW

“Natural Wines are far superior to other wines exactly as Master Sommeliers are far superior to other people—because they say so! Now that I’m officially an MNW, it’s safe to say I’m superior to everyone in the wine business. And that’s why I got into the wine business! Thank you, Court of MNWs. Only you could provide me with a piece of paper that so adequately replaces actual knowledge!”—Les Intervention MNW

“The MNW program is the manure you bury in the cow horn.”—Viola Dynamics MNW

We know that many wine lovers are skeptical about Natural Wines. Once you become a Master of Natural Wine, however, you’ll have learned that skepticism has no place in the world of Natural Wine. An MNW is uniquely qualified to take what producers, wine writers and importers claim at face value. The winemaker says that her wines are made with only minimal intervention, you have the clout and the credentials to believe her. You don’t need specifics! You’re a goddam MNW! Who cares what her definition of “minimal” is? It’s not important. Just like when we use drones against radical Muslims we don’t care about the “minimal” civilian casualties. We’re just doing what needs to be done. If the winemaker says it’s Natural Wine, and you, the MNW, say it’s Natural Wine, guess what? It’s Natural Wine. Imagine how many doors that will open for you in trendy San Francisco restaurants, or upscale Millennial wine bars, or wine educator positions at Constellation! An MNW doesn’t just say you’re a Master of Natural Wine. It also says you’re an unassailable authority. In the wine business, letters after your name don’t simply mean that you know what you’re talking about. More importantly, they mean no one else does. Imagine how much that’s worth!

You’re probably wondering how much it might cost you to earn your Master of Natural Wine. Well, let’s put it this way. More than it cost us, because we made it up! If you’d have thought of it, you could have had one for free, then charged everyone else for the right to tack your imaginary degree onto the end of their name! This is how wine credentials work. Making one up is the easy part. Getting others to think they have value is where it gets tricky. We think we have a winner with the Master of Natural Wine. We’re going to clean up! Hey, why should shady importers and unethical wineries make all the money from Natural Wines? Ask yourself that. Then apply to be an MNW candidate today, and grab a hunk of all that stupid money naive wine drinkers are willing to spend! Remember, if you don’t, someone else will.