Book Review: The Battle for Wine and Love

By John ~ September 29th, 2008.

The full title of this book by Alice Feiring is The Battle for Wine and Love or How I Saved the World from Parkerization. Without the subtitle, I don’t believe this book would have sold 10 copies. Alice hasn’t saved the world from anything. In my opinion, she has a strange palate that seems to mirror her personality and her thoughts on many subjects. In truth I believe she has an inner longing to be as popular as Robert Parker and is jealous of his fame.

She seems to want to move winemaking back to the 60’s and 70’s when every other bottle was bad, sanitation sucked, and winemaking ethics were a sad joke. I don’t. I started drinking wine when Alice was still in diapers, and I do not long for the “good old days” in wine any more than in real life. I believe that wine quality across the board is better than it has ever been in my life.

Ms. Feiring really reveals her personal biases, certainly not any great intelligence, when she expounds on Australian Shiraz and the fact that there is only one Shiraz in all of Australia that she actually likes. I wonder how many she has tasted because she admits that she has never visited Australia. And yet in another section in her book, she talks about how important it is to visit the vineyards and get to know the winemakers and what makes them tick before forming an opinion about their wine.

Then she digs an even bigger hole for herself when she asks why anyone would want to go from France to Australia to learn about Syrah when France has over 150 years of Syrah winemaking history from which to draw. Well, I hate to burst Alice’s bubble, but Australia also has over 150 years of history making Shiraz (Syrah). I know because I’ve been there and I’ve tasted hundreds of those old-vine Shiraz.  Certainly some Shirazes are better than others, and I don’t agree with all of Parker’s touts on them, but to blast them across the board is ridiculous.

Why doesn’t Alice just say that her palate is different than some of the more famous wine writers today and leave it at that rather than implying that anyone who doesn’t fall in love with her favorite Loire reds (Cabernet Franc) is a nut? I only observed one nut while reading this book and it was the author.

In my opinion, Alice is just trying to sell books and promote Alice…and she seems to be doing a good job of both. If you are looking for a good and balanced book on wine or advice on what to drink, I suggest that you look elsewhere.

Have you read The Battle for Wine and Love? If so, what are your thoughts on it?

Filed under: Wine Books

Reader's Comments

  1. Randy | September 29th, 2008 at 7:16 am

    Wow, if ever there was a blog post that “flamebait” written all over it, this would be it!

    I read her book (and interviewed her about the book for my radio show), but I didn’t reach the conclusions you did. I won’t go into details about it, but I think that you misjudge Alice’s motives. She’s a wine writer, she writes about what interests her, and even though she blasts New World wine, she was still able to pull examples of California winemakers that she said were making wines she *did* like.

    So, whereas she hasn’t been to Australia, I’m sure that if she were to go, she might just be able to find examples of what she’d call “authentic wines”, but that the vast majority (at least in her opinion) were “Parkerized”, which is basically her point.

    Very passionate post, by the way! 😉

  2. Jared | October 3rd, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Hey guys…great read. I couldn’t agree with you more. She just seems to long for the type of acclaim Parker has garnered. Plus as you mentioned, she wants to send wine back to the stone ages!