When Alice Feiring wrote this book in 2005, she was a voice crying in the wilderness. Robert Parker and his point score system were driving prices and wine sales to such a degree that vintners all around the world were changing their wines to please his palate. Feiring set out to start a “terroir” and artisanal wine revolution.
In the introduction, she writes:
This is my journey into the wine world’s version of David and Goliath. At stake is the soul of wine. This is giant corporation vs. independent winemaker. This is international and homogenous vs. local and varied. This is manipulated and technical wine vs. natural and artisanal. This is the world that courts Parker vs. those who heed their own calling. If the “new technology” made a better wine, I’d say great. But for the most part, wine is being reduced to the common denominator, and this is sacrilegious. (Feiring, Alice (2009-05-05). The Battle for Wine and Love: or How I Saved the World from Parkerization (p. 4). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
Dark humor and ironic style make the book deliciously funny and easy to read. At the same time, it is packed with information and specifics about why and how wine is being standardized. Feiring takes the reader on a rollicking, fast-paced investigative journey from harvesting grapes in Europe to visiting the laboratories at UC Davis in California.
Her theme is: Stand up for “authentic wine”. Find it. Drink it. Buy it. Don’t let it disappear. She writes:
The more I thought about it, the dogma of authentic wines would include Healthy farming practices Hand picking No extended cold maceration No added yeasts or bacteria No added enzymes No flavors from oak or toast No additives that shape flavor or texture No processes that use machines to alter alcohol level, flavor, or texture or that promote premature aging Was that too much to ask? (Feiring, Alice (2009-05-05). The Battle for Wine and Love: or How I Saved the World from Parkerization (p. 40). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.)
I can say from personal experience that once you know what you’re looking for and start drinking this kind of wine, it’s hard to go back “Coca-Cola wine” (industrial wine constructed to taste a certain way year after year). You will know what I mean if you’ve ever compared the taste of tomatoes grown in the sun in a backyard garden to the ones from the supermarket that come in a plastic wrapper.
This book is an excellent introduction into “terroir” wine. I highly recommend it. It highlights the fundamental values I used when selecting wines to taste and write about.
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Feiring has written another book called Naked Wine. In this one, she experiments with making “natural” wine herself. She strikes some of the same themes, but I found it more dogmatic (the need to go all natural) and less entertaining than The Story of Wine and Love.