I have been a fan of Alice Feiring ever since she released her book The Battle for Wine and Love: or How I Saved the World from Parkerization her vast wine knowledge and her wit make her a must-read in the world of wine writing. She recently released a new book, Naked Wine: Letting Grapes Do What Comes Naturally, and she was a recent recipient of a Louis Roederer International Wine Writer Award. She agreed to answer a few questions for us about writing and her books:
1. Congratulations on the Louis Roederer award, can you tell me what sparked your interest in wine writing?
Thank you! Winning it was such a fantastic surprise. I come to wine from the writing side. I felt I just couldn't be a waitress who was really a writer, so I thought my 'straight' job would be journalism and so, I started to pitch stories on topics I felt I had some facility for. I knew wine after tasting seriously for ten years, and I felt I had something to offer. But it was only when I started to spend more times in vineyards, my writing took on a deeper dimension. However, I never had any aspiration to be a 'wine writer.'
2. Do you feel you Have you had additional challenges as a female wine writer?
One of the biggest disadvantages of being a woman wine writer, a woman on a man's turf, are the attacks on my sex, whether in cartoons or in blog posts. A woman with strong opinions is always going to get that kind of treatment.
3. You have seen the rise of wine blogs, for better or worse, over the last few years, and in fact you have one of the most popular wine blogs. What do you think about the democratization of wine writing and what advice do you have for young wine writers?
I don't see it as democratization, more as dilution. There is a misconception that because something appears in print or on the web, it is true. Blog gives an aura of 'authority' to those who haven't yet earned it. However, that said, there is plenty of room for quality to rise to the top. Blogs can give terrific visibility and a solid platform on which to develop a voice. Advice? Do your research. Find a reason to write your blog, and it must be much more than your unsupported opinion or about, "What I drank last night."
4. Three years later, how is the fight against Parkerization coming?
Great! Oh, sure, there are still people who buy on scores, but fewer and fewer. In addition, there are importers who are saying no to scoring. A few years ago there were two sizes of wines, big and bigger. Now there are more styles of wines and the alcohol levels are decreasing. We also are seeing less oak and less toasty oak And, happily, more people are exploring the possibilities of (making and drinking) natural and expressive wine.
5. Tell me about your new book "Naked Wine: Letting Grapes Do What Comes Naturally". You have long advocated for natural wines, so this seems like a perfect title.
The story starts with a dare to make wine "according to my principles," and through that I tell the story of how the natural wine movement came to be, so when winemakers around the world try to co-opt the word natural, they'll at least know where it came from and what the basic principles are. In a way this is history with adventures with Alice on the natural wine route.