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The Battle for Wine and Love: or How I Saved the World from Parkerization Hardcover – May 19, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America's Whiskey by Reid Mitenbuler
"Bourbon Empire" by Reid Mitenbuler
A tale of innovation, success, downfall, and resurrection, Bourbon Empire is an exploration of the spirit in all its unique forms, creating an indelible portrait of both American whiskey and the people who make it. Learn more

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this entertaining oenological salvo, wine blogger and journalist Feiring makes an argument for wine authenticity through adherence to old techniques. She's against what she calls Big Wine—viticulture as business and technology—and blames the shrinking appreciation for hand-vinified, long-aged Old World wines (like the Barolo that eventually led to her career) on, among other things, the UC–Davis School of Enology and Viticulture and the wine writings of critic Robert M. Parker Jr. (of the book's title). But what sets her sprightly polemic apart is that her argument is pinned to a personal narrative of wine tours through Europe and California. Rounding out the Syrah-and-the-City parallels are several female characters who receive noms de vin like Honey-Sugar and the air-kissing Skinny, and most entertainingly of all, the author's Carrie-like relationships. Parker looms like Mr. Big over all Feiring's oenological relationships; they finally have a couple of phone dates that distill the differences between them down to quantifying (Parker) versus qualifying (Feiring). The author, who already has fans through her blog and other journalism, can count on new ones with this publication. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In the world of wine connoisseurship, Robert Parker’s evaluation of a bottle carries enormous influence. Winemakers bow to his opinion because Parker’s imprimatur can increase demand and thus the price a wine commands. Feiring resents Parker’s blatant hegemony, and she fights vociferously to convince both wine producers and consumers to consider other points of view. Feiring’s root concern is that Parker’s personal tastes govern how wines are now produced regardless of others’ equally informed perspectives and differing tastes. Increasing influence of corporations and big-business interests in what have been hitherto mostly small-family operations have magnified this tendency of the wine world to respond to just one arbiter’s preferences. Feiring traces the development of her own discerning palate and makes a passionate argument for individuality and personality in winemaking. Well-reasoned arguments such as this one over the aesthetics of wine attract a passionate audience. --Mark Knoblauch
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt; 1 edition (May 19, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151012865
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151012862
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,548,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By monkuboy VINE VOICE on June 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I first found out about this book from reading an article written by the author that appeared in the Los Angeles Times. In it, she seemed on the warpath, ready to offend anyone and anything as a means to get people to read her book to see what her outrageous statements were about. Myself, I thought this woman who criticized winemakers for manipulating wines into big, huge, bold styles in order to please Robert Parker and thus sell more bottles was guilty of the same thing, making outrageous statements and trying to create controversy in order to sell copies of her book.

However, I did agree in principle with what she was saying, that too often these days wines are manipulated into something that tries to please the consumer and they are losing their individuality. So I bought the book. Amazon's price makes it too attractive to pass up.

Pros: Ms. Feiring writes very well. She takes the reader around the globe in her adventures as we meet various winemakers on both sides of the fence, as she advances her argument against over-manipulation. I think most readers would be pretty surprised to find out what goes on in a lot of wineries in order to achieve the sort of wine they want to sell. It's a topic that does need to be more publicized.

Cons: Ms. Feiring sounds like she's taken out a contract on Robert Parker. She is so anti-Parker that it threatens the credibility of the book. She also tries to paint everything in black and white, as in small, family, old-fashioned winemakers = good guys and big, corporate, technology-utilizing winemakers = bad and evil guys. It's the same as people who automatically slam big corporations simply because they are big.
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Format: Hardcover
Like many other readers, I hoped to find objective arguments for diversity and non-adulterated wines. After finishing the book, I was concerned that she might have weaken her own stance.

While I agree with the points she hoped to convey, I cannot agree with her logic. Her writing grossly simplified the issues: science is bad, biodynamic is good; big corporation is bad, small producer is good. I have had many of the wines mentioned in the book, and I agree that they are unique and good. However, not all of them are from small producers, and certainly not all of them are made in the absence of technology.

Mr. Robert Parker is without question the most influential wine critic today, and perhaps with his enormous influence should also come the responsibility to preserve the regional diversity of wines. Mr. Parker is a big boy, and he certainly doesn't need me to defend him, but he has become the whipboy for everything that is wrong in the wine world. Consumers, producers as well, should realize that Mr. Parker's view represent one man's palate (or a few in the case of the Wine Advocate), and even he says in his publications that the final judge should be our own palates. My point is that Mr. Parker alone cannot be blamed for everything one does not like in the wine world, and blaming him is simply avoiding the bigger issues; in my opinion, all these issues are just the natural progression of wine becoming an international business. Instead of singling out Mr. Parker, Ms. Feiring could do the wine-drinking public a big favor by encouraging everyone to trust their own palate and explore different wine styles.

Perhaps the single biggest reason I am so negative toward this book is that Ms.
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Format: Hardcover
Feiring's is one of the rare wine books that has equal appeal to both the oenophile and the weekend wine taster. 'Wine geeks' will feel vindicated by her manifesto that cries out against 'spoofalated' (unnecessarily manipulated) wine and praises the renegade wine makers who've turned to Biodynamic farming, or simply heeded the wine making wisdom of their great grandfathers. The less wine-savvy can still take delight in the love stories that mellow this tannic polemic. Feiring writes great characters as well as great wine reviews - for those of us who want to get to know the people behind our wine, Feiring satisfies with anecdotes of wine critics, wine scientists, and most of all the wine makers themselves. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As Alice Feiring sagely argues, that would be a silly thing to do with books, people, wine, or life in general. I thus find it difficult to "rate" this book, whether on a scale of one to five stars, 100 points or 20 points or otherwise. There is so much good about it. But for me it is something of a flawed diamond.

I wanted so much to be enthralled with this book, as others here have said. Alice Feiring has her head in the right place where wine is concerned. She's got a great blog. She knows what she's talking about. When I heard her book was coming out, it was a must have volume for me and I "pre-ordered" it. To be frank, the title was off-putting. It seemed like a marketer's strange marriage of "chick lit" (oh God, forgive me, Alice) and wine geek ((and I mean that in a good way), but I figured I could get past that, no problemo.

So then I sat down to read the book cover to cover, in a few ferry crossings between The Rock and Seattle -- and I did so with great expectations (little g, little e, not with the Dickens novel in my other hand). Here's the Plus and the Minus:

Plus: The book stakes out a strong and well reasoned argument for terroir, traditional (and by that I mean organic, possibly even biodynamic, non-interventionist, not careless and just plain bad) viticulture and winemaking. Alice plainly knows her stuff. And yes, she has the "cojones" to call a spade a shovel. Heck, anyone who will cross swords on the dais with the likes of Clark Smith certainly knows how to hold her own in an argument.
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