. Vite Vinifera De Vino's Blog: The Battle For Wine And Love Alice Feiring

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Battle For Wine And Love Alice Feiring

One of the things I love most about vacation is that I finally have the time to read. Over the past two weeks, I read about 5 books, including Alice Feiring's "The Battle for Wine And Love, or How I Saved the World from Parkerization." I usually do not read many wine books or magazines, but there are always exceptions to the rules, and in my opinion, a book that is promising to save the wine world from "Parkerization" deserves to be read. Alice has an impressive palate, so much so that she won the James Beard Foundation Award for excellence in culinary review, and makes a living traveling the wine world and writing about it on her own blog, Veritas in Vino. Now that sounds like a good life to me. Sure, it has its downsides: being on the road takes a toll on you after a while, and if you combine that with tasting wines at the crack of dawn, walking up and down cellar stairs and vineyard rows all day, it's not quite as easy and fun as it sounds. Still, I'm not sure I'd let that kind of opportunity pass me by.
Feiring's book is witty, deep, and very informative, with strong arguing points. It is refreshing to see that there is still somebody in this world that cares about how things are made - not just because a particular style is trendy at the moment, but because an interest in production can help lead to a healthy life style. When she talks about "Parkerization" (manipulating the term "globalization"), Alice stipulates that, in order to please a very influential critic in today's market, wineries around the world have embraced Mr. Parker's guidelines, creating wines that are heavy, high in alcohol, and concentrated with thick color. All of this is done in the name of the profit, says Alice, because a 100-point score can dramatically increase sales around the world. You might say, "what's wrong with making some money?," and I would answer that there is nothing wrong, as long as you are not deceiving your customers, leading them to believe that are buying quality-production goods, when the wines are chemically manipulated in the vineyards and in the cellars. These falsehoods come from producers who use certain "techniques" like reverse-osmosis, spinners that separate a wine's components, leaving a sloppish wine concentrate, which is then re-hydrated, sugared and acidified. It sounds to me like a similar process that Chicken McNuggets go through to be created...
Alice's preferences tend toward the extremely natural - she likes paler and more elegant wines that are the result of a highly natural growing philosophies. But her judgment is objective - in the book she leaves more space for the growers that are of opposite beliefs, trying to understand their point and eventually agreeing when their explanations made sense. I highly recommend this book if you are ready to leave the "score" world of influential wine critics, and start to become your own critic. Scanning down the lines you will see the different ways to make wine from different perspectives, styles and issues, giving enough information to help you make up your own mind about your preferences. And on a personal note - thank you, Alice, for shouting for a minority of wine and food geeks that is in serious danger of being extinct.
Buona Bevuta a Tutti!!!


adrian said...

I love Alice's point of view but her words do not flow like other wine writers, someone like Jay McInerney for example. For all the distaste for Parkerization, it is clear in the book that she admires Parker. She seems like a difficult and fussy individual and I find it hard to trust the wine palate of a strict vegetarian. Some wines really come alive when paired with meat.


Anonymous said...

She said in interview something like, "the wines I liked pre-Parker are the same wine I like now". Really? Like no new wineries are making good wine- or for that matter, the old-school producers are all still making wines the same way they did in '82? As a friend of innumerable winemakers, many of the non-interventionist school, Feirings views cross the line from reactionary to just plain benighted.

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