Later today I’m going to participate in a hashtag wine tasting, which is a unique marketing gimmick that gets a whole lot of wine people on Twitter and Instagram talking about a given product at a given cyber-location on a given hour of a given day.
According to my buddy Stephen McConnell, this results in ‘a nonstop spewing of cock-gagging platitudes’.
These hashtag discussions begin with some PR firm sending out a bunch of theme wines (in this case, Chilean Carmenère) to wine writers —folks who may or may not accept reproductive appendages into various orifi and/or gag upon them thereafter—and we instantly become a clamorous clot of cloying clowns, each posting our individual tasting notes and interacting with one another in the ether reality.
Although I find these hashtag conversations neither annoying nor particularly enlightening or fun, I do take profound moral exception to Stephen’s next comment. Not the one about how we are a ‘wine-blogger circle-jerk of inbred douche-fuckery who couldn’t POSSIBLY get any more egregious’ because that’s probably true.
No, I object to his suggestion that we are doing it for the free wine.
Rage Against The Grid
Ever since I read Abbie Hoffman’s magnum opus ‘Steal This Book’, I realized that nobody in America ever has to pay for anything ever. (Incidentally, the Wikipedia entry for Hoffman’s pièce de résistance reads: ‘The book sold more than a quarter of a million copies between April and November 1971; it is unknown how many more copies were stolen.’)
‘Steal This Book’ was a hippie counter-culture precursor to today’s hipster ‘living off the grid’ revolution, in which a strange breed of humanoid builds a self-sustaining home without a municipal water supply, sewer, natural gas or electricity and thus attempts to live a healthier life while leaving a smaller environmental footprint.
In Hoffman’s alternate universe, you simply steal the shit you want.
In fact, ‘Steal This Book’ is twelve chapters of childish tripe, bad puns, silly expletives and outrageous assertions. You know, kind of like McConnell’s anti-hashtag-tastings tirade. But—and this is directed to my fellow bloggerinos who may in fact be snorting and snuffling and rooting around for free wine—the Hoffman passage nearest to your cold heart will be Chapter 8, Part 1: ‘Shoplifting’.
In it, the Abbster points out (in so many words) that simply heisting a bottle of wine from your favorite liquor store is much easier than actually having to write a blog about it.
Here are some of his pointers and my notes on their particular relevancy:
“The best time to shoplift is on a rainy, cold day during a busy shopping season.” In other words, today.
“Undercover pigs are expensive so stores are usually understaffed.” Steal wine from that nice, helpful boutique wine shoppe owner, not Costco.
“One method is to use a hidden belt attached to the inside of your coat or pants, specially designed with hooks or clothespins to which items can be discretely attached. You should practice before a mirror until you get good at it.” Sounds like simply writing the fucking wine column would be easier.
“ In the team method, one or more partners distract the sales clerks while the other steals. There are all sorts of theater skits possible. One person can act drunk or better still appear to be having an epileptic fit. Two people can start a fight with each other.” I think we all can name a specific wine blogger we’d pair up with for this technique, can’t we?
“By taking only a single item, you can prevent a bust if caught by acting like a dizzy klepto socialite getting kicks or use the “Oh-gee-I-forgot-to-pay” routine.” Golden. Needs no further input from me.
Of course, your first reaction to all this might be, ‘But what if I get arrested??’ I already thought of that. And I concluded that if you are someone who spends an inordinate amount of time drinking wine, whether it is gratis, stolen or obtained through fair exchange in the free enterprise system, then spends even more time writing notes about what you just drank and then actually publishes a web site so that other people can read about what you thought about what you just drank, well, my friend, you are too out of touch with reality to be capable of actually holding a genuine job in the real world anyway. So who cares if you wind up with a police record?
So, I will join the hashtag convo to ‘celebrate’ Carmenère Day, 2015. And I did indeed receive four bottles of wine—Lapostolle Cuvée Alexandre, Maquis, Montes Alpha and Los Vascos.
Also inside the UPS package was a party hat which I am apparently supposed to wear while drinking the wine and throwing the silver confetti they likewise included while celebrating Carmenère Day all alone, by myself, in the dark, sitting in front of my computer typing comments directed at strangers on the internet.
This, of course, will make me feel like the poor schmuck who dies alone in his hoarder apartment and is discovered, half-eaten by cats, when the neighbors finally call to complain about the smell.
But I’ll do it anyway. Why? Not because I want free wine; like most wine writers, I already have a closet full of free wine I haven’t even begun to think about. No, I am doing it because I support the industry, because I believe in innovative marketing techniques and because I am as interested in comparing notes with other #winelovers in virtual reality as I am inside tasting rooms.
But most of all, I am doing it because I am trying to get at least one of these producers to add my name to the list of wine journalists they fly down to South America once or twice a year to experience the magic first hand.
That’s right, beeotches (you especially Stephen): I want a free trip to Chile and can’t figure out how to shoplift one.