How do you introduce Ron Washam, the Hosemaster of Wine? Two things:
First: I’m not sure if there is anyone better at cutting through the confidence trick that is often intrinsic to the business of wine.
Second: in a world where offending people appears to border on the illegal, the Hosemaster piles in. No one is safe.
Oh, a third: he’s not a fan of “natural” wine. Probably because it’s all so weird.
First noted – by me, anyway – as a guest writer on Tim Atkin’s site (himself a man unafraid of a fight), the Hosemaster is, for me, almost a lone voice of satire in a world where so much writing, comment, scoring, etc, etc, is increasingly either self-important tosh or vapid clickbait drivel. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but – here’s the point – I get the idea that the Hosemaster doesn’t give a monkeys’.
I thank Mr Washam for his answers. We need more Hosemasters.
What was the first wine/bottle that got you into the whole wine thing?
Unlike most of my peers, I never sipped so much as an ounce of alcohol until I turned 21. I’m not sure why, except perhaps observing the behavior of drunken college students made me think it was a bad idea to drink; much like turning a skunk into road kill made me think it wasn’t a good idea to cross busy roads in a sexual stupor in the middle of the night. I had more scents than that. I worked in a very posh restaurant at 21, one with an enormous and fine wine list, so when I began to drink wine, it was First Growths, Premier Cru Burgundy, and Brunelli—small tastes offered by wealthy customers that introduced me to the pleasures of wine. I thought all wines tasted like that. It was my first taste of something appalling, which seems to me to have been Blue Nun, that awakened me to what great wines had to offer. Blue Nun was the unsightly mole that made me appreciate wine’s great natural beauty.
What was the first wine/bottle that took you closer to your maker?
Wandering through the damp wine cellar of memory is pretty treacherous. There were many wines that brought me closer to my maker when I’d consumed too much and drove home anyway. When I was young, I thought the advice about knowing when to stop imbibing was, “Don’t. Drink and drive.” A misplaced period can kill you—ask Donald Trump and Megyn Kelly (sorry, rather US political joke there). But what first jumps to mind is the first time I tasted Chateau Rayas. It was the 1978 Rayas, brought by an acquaintance to a dinner with friends, and I can still remember being utterly overwhelmed with its greatness, as well as embarrassed that I’d never even heard of it. I’d never put anything in my mouth that so dazzled me, including the time I tried to smoke 50 cigarettes at once. Which I did to try to get the taste of Blue Nun out of my mouth.
What was the best wine/bottle you have had this year? – OK, the past twelve months.
For my birthday last October, my wife and I shared a bottle of 1990 Chave Hermitage. I bought it when it was released, and had been staring longingly at it since. A birthday meal at a fine restaurant when the wine was 25 seemed right. Make a trip to the barber, dress up, enjoy the wine. Every guy needs a Chave and a haircut now and then. By the way, one of the wines I have always wanted to drink was the 1952 Chave Hermitage, a birth year wine. So if anyone wants to share, I’ll spring for the barber.
Ron: thank you again.
Read more here: Hosemaster of Wine