Now, I’d have to admit that Hosemaster, like his countryman Jon Stewart of the Daily Show, is an acquired taste. I happen to find his savage tongue-in-cheek attacks on all sorts of aspects of the wine world wonderfully refreshing. Others, including figures like Robert Parker and Jancis Robinson who have felt the Hosemaster stiletto satirically sliding between their ribs, agree.
Parker said he is “without a doubt the funniest SOB in the blog-world…[with the] brains and balls to target his laser of laughter on anybody… HoseMaster for Blogger of the Year… although he would be the first to say the bar is so damn low for that award, he should win it every year… No one else is remotely as funny or as talented. And the wine world sure needs someone to poke fun at all the nonsense and phoney/baloney unsufferable crap out there.”
The piece I enjoyed was entitled “What Not to Publish on Your Stupid Wine Blog in 2014″ and laid into some of the mainstays of wine bloggery, ranging from lists of favourite wines and paeans of praise to social media, to futile attempts to uncover the truth of terroir and pictures of winery dogs. As an exercise in puncturing the pomposity of the vinous blogosphere, it was well nigh perfect. Which is probably why it did not go down very well with some of the more serious members of the wine blogging fraternity.
Among the people who hated the piece were Sean Piper, publisher of Wine Consumer who defended bloggers as representing “the most enthusiastic of wine consumers” who, in their turn, risked being “alienated” by satire. Hosemaster was described as having a “humorous and vulgar opinion” which was worryingly “proliferated by the experts of wine”. (A reference presumably to the fact that, like me, he is commissioned to write a monthly piece on the Timatkin.com site).
And that’s the point. Payton and Piper and – from my experience judging wine blogs for a couple of awards – far too many other bloggers, simply don’t “do humour”. As Heimoff said in his piece, “…part of the reason I have mixed feelings about winery use of social media is that the products (especially the videos) are so damned earnest. There’s no sense of humor, no trace of mocumentary or snicker. “
I’ve always thought that making people laugh is one of the more honorable human aspirations and that wine and humour are natural bedfellows. After all, much of the art celebrating the subject over the centuries depicts jolly, smiling people who look as though they’ve enjoyed a few jokes along with their copious glasses of red. They don’t usually appear to have sat through a lecture on the subtle differences in the limestone content of Burgundian soil, or the more obscure varieties of Portuguese grape.
A brief trawl through Youtube reveals that ordinary mortals seem to agree with Heimoff and me – if the viewing figures for “funny” wine videos made by non wine folk are anything to judge by.