Alice (right) and Tracie in Paris in 2009. (Errata corrige: the photo was actually taken at Fonda San Miguel in 2010 when Alice came to see us in Austin; the photo below is from the France trip.)
One of the most rewarding things about my teaching gig at the Slow Food University of Gastronomic Sciences in Piedmont has been watching my students’ eyes light up as they discover the work of Alice Feiring. Year after year, it’s happened every time we crack open her first book, The Battle for Wine and Love or How I Saved the World from Parkerization (Harcourt 2008).
Teaching her first book over the course of the last six years has revealed how well the work has aged. At the time of its hardback release, her pioneering approach to wine writing was viewed by some as heretical and irrelevant to the wine discourse and dialectic. But more than 13 years later, it has proved to be a guiding and shining light to a new generation of wine writers who have eagerly embraced her style — and her wisdom.
Above: another shot from our super fun visit in Paris while I was on tour with Nous Non Plus and Tracie and I had just started dating.
Not only did she introduce a highly personal and even intimate, some would say, model of wine writing. (Her book could have been gleaned from the New Yorker “personal history” rubric.) But she also provoked — like a tirage — a closer look at wine’s intrinsic moral and ethical valence. She was certainly not the first to ask not only whether a wine was good or bad in terms of its quality and reflection of tradition. But she was among the first to inspire wine lovers to consider whether a wine was good or evil.
Evil is a strong word but it applies here, in my view. Her conviction and ideals often inspired a quasi-bellicose tone in her diegesis. After all, her debut book, the one that put her on the wine world map, was called “Battle” (to this day, her shorthand for the tome is “Battle”).
No high-profile wine writer before her had brought such a May 1968 sensibility to the world of enography. In many ways, she is the Susan Sontag of her generation: someone whom the critical theorist and activist would have said lives their life true to their ideals.
I couldn’t be more thrilled that Alice will be presenting an Aligoté seminar and tasting this year at the Boulder Burgundy Festival on Friday, October 22. I’m not a panelist or presenter at the festival but I’ll be returning to Colorado again this year as the festival’s in-house blogger and media consultant, a gig that I’ve been doing for nearly 10 years now.
Click here for details. And if you do make it out to hers or any of the other events, I’ll look forward to tasting with you!