Tim Atkin | Master of Wine

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10th Dec 2018

Please Give This Christmas, So I Won’t Have To

by Ron Washam

 

What I dread about Christmas are the gifts. For example, I don’t want a Coravin. Coravins are stupid. Somebody is going to give me a goddam Coravin, I just know it, and I don’t want one. I’ll never use it, and it will sit on my kitchen counter and mock me, much like my wife, who I also don’t want to penetrate with a surgical needle. Well, not again.

Coravins are the epitome of wine elitism. You display one just to inform guests that you actually own older, very valuable wines that you’re unlikely to share with them. “Oh,” you say, “damn the luck. I’m out of argon. Guess we’ll have to drink something pedestrian.” If you display a Coravin and don’t use it, it’s a big “Fuck you” to your guest. Wait, maybe I do want one. No, I’m going to wait until Riedel and Coravin get together. Then I can have 12 different Coravins lined up on my counter. “Wait!” I’ll exclaim, “I have to get the Burgundy Coravin to open this fake old bottle of DRC. Jesus, I almost used the German Riesling Coravin by mistake. The La Tâche wouldn’t have tasted as good served by a German Riesling Coravin—surely, you can tell the difference.” Oh, you know it’s coming.

I don’t need any wine books either. I’m sick of reading about wine. I have shelves and shelves of wine books, none of which I’ve read, that’s how sick I am of reading about wine. I have 45 Introduction to Wine books. I have Wine for Dummies, Idiots, Cretins, Jerks, Morons and WSET candidates. I have the Wines of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Tuscany, Spain, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Austria, Chile and Argentina. Every one of them is a Definitive Guide, mostly to narcolepsy. Please, for the love of God, nobody give me a book about Rosé! Why the hell are there books about Rosé? A book about Rosé is like Rosé itself — a saignée of a real book. Simple, empty, easy to produce and all about cash flow. And where the hell will I find a Corariedelvin for Rosé?

I don’t want joke wine stuff for Christmas either. Funny T-shirts with clever sayings like, “If I drink too much German Riesling after sex, I have to VD P.” I hate gag gifts. Dribble Zalto glasses? No, thank you. Whoopee Cushions that loudly break wind and smell like natural wine from Bulgaria? Save your money. Hold on, do they make those? OK, I might want those. Frankly, if I want worthless wine gifts I’ll buy my own “Wine Folly: Magnum Edition.”

No, this year, I’ve asked the people who usually buy me Christmas gifts to consider donating the money to a worthy wine cause.. Even a few dollars can change some poor unfortunate’s life, say an intern at “Wine Spectator.” There are many great causes, but here are three to consider donating to in the HoseMaster of Wine’s™ name this holiday season.

PARKANON

They say the first step in curing addiction is admitting you have one. Those addicted to the 100 Point Scale, so-called Score Whores, have trouble with that first step. They are in strict denial about their addiction. It’s an insidious addiction. It begins slowly, with a curiosity about what a 100 Point wine tastes like. You finally buy one. You open it. It tastes great, it tastes like nothing else you’ve ever put in your mouth, it tastes like the Death we all yearn for — that long, sweet, lingering finish. 100 Point wines are like death — you’re at 100, nothing comes after. Soon numbers are your obsession. You think about scores all the time. You’ll drink a 99 point wine if you must because it’s a near-death experience. You see a bright light at the end of a long tunnel when you taste it, and a voice beckons you to walk into the light. The voice sounds like James Suckling, only sincere, but you don’t walk toward the light. You turn back. Only to chase scores all over again. The Score Whore’s life is as empty as the wine prose that goes with the critic’s ratings.

Every day, more and more wine lovers are seduced by the 100 Point Scale. It’s the Number One killer of wine enjoyment in the world, just ahead of wine podcasts. But there’s hope. Your contribution to Parkanon helps recovering 100 Point Scale addicts learn to lead a normal wine life again, a life where they can simply open a wine and enjoy it without even thinking about numbers. These poor, pathetic Score Whores, thanks to Parkanon, get their wine lives back. Won’t you help? There, but for the grace of Parker, goes thou.

SOMMELIERS WITHOUT BORDERS

I recently made up a startling statistic: there are more than 120 countries that do not have even one sommelier! Entire populations that have never had the opportunity to chat about their wine selections, or visited a restaurant with a wine list that was curated! It’s an international disgrace, like ABBA. Sommeliers Without Borders (known in France, where it began, as Dorks Sans Frontières) is a group of dedicated sommeliers who travel to regions who are having wine and food pairing emergencies and donate their services. “It’s not easy finding a wine that pairs nicely with neighborhood dogs,” says Larry Anosmia MS, “but it’s so satisfying when it works out for a desperate community.” In but a few hours, SWB had donated cases of Châteauneuf-du-Pup to those in need. “If only,” Anosmia has said, “we’d been there for the Donner Party.”

There’s never been a more urgent need for the services of Sommeliers Without Borders. If you can’t volunteer, and I’d urge every sommelier I know to get out of the country, please give generously. As we speak, entire cities in Africa are wondering what goes with endangered bush meat. Perhaps your donation will provide the perfect Furmint.

GREENTHEISE

Genuinely talented wine writers are critically endangered, and under attack. Their numbers are dwindling catastrophically, down to but a few living in isolated populations, most unable to reproduce because of their age, or unlikely to because of their appearance; and, if we don’t do something now, in a generation there won’t be any. Overwhelmed by the enormous overpopulation of mediocre and anodyne wine writers who overrun the media landscape, our great wine writers’ cries for help cannot be heard. That’s where Greentheise steps in.

Greentheise is dedicated to preserving these rare giants using any means at their disposal. If culling the herds of marginally talented wine writers is what it takes, then contributors to “Food and Wine” and “Punch” should hire protection. There are talks of suicide bombers appearing at wine blogger conferences, though the very idea is redundant, and seems like a waste of one life, anyway. Greentheise has even occupied the offices of offending publishers like Ten Speed Press, who themselves hold the English language hostage. It’s dangerous work, but the warriors at Greentheise love wine and love writing. Apparently, they’re the only ones.

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