The Battle for Wine and Love Review
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At the age of 23, Alice Feiring became obsessed with wine after tasting a 1968 Italian Barolo from the wine cellar of her fatherís mistressís ex-husband. Throughout the years, as she studied wine, she noticed that many of them tasted the sameóand that they lacked depth and character. In other words, wines had lost their authenticity.

In fact, she discovered that, instead of consisting solely of grapes, which represented the soil from where they were grown, most wines were manipulated. Yeast and sulfur were added, oak from the barrels took over the natural flavor, and additives where injected to determine the flavor, texture, and color. Many of these wines received high scores from both The Wine Spectator and wine critic Robert Parker, whose publication, The Wine Advocate, influences how winemakers make their wines. Now a winemakerís goal was to standardize the wine instead of keeping the varietalís identity. After all, high scores translate to higher sales. So Alice visited University of California, Davis, home to a well-respected school of Enology and Viticulture, to find out more about this modernization.

In an attempt to recover from a broken relationship as she approached middle age (a double whammy), Alice flew to Europe to try to fall in love with wines again while revisiting the Old World approach to wine making. This is where winemakers learned from their grandfathers instead of universitiesóand where wine was connected to the soil and culture. She also wanted to meet Giovanni Scanavino, the maker of her first Barolo. While traveling through France, Spain, and Italy, she sadly discovered that they, too, were influenced by wine critics and had adopted New World methods. During her various trips, she tried to convince the independent winemakers to keep the character of their unique wines instead of seeking the admiration of critics.

Now, I must confess that while I enjoy a glass of wine at dinner, I am hardly a wine connoisseur. However, I still found this book fascinating. Not only does wine journalist Feiring teach us the various methods of winemaking, but she also describes in vivid color the vineyards that produce these wines, the scents of the grungy cellars, and even the personalities of the eccentric characters she meets along the way. She allows us to peek into her own relationships, and she even compares her old lovers to wines. And though she may have come across many dull wines throughout the years, there isnít one such moment in this book.

Is her perspective on wine correct? I donít think Iíve ever tasted a traditional wine, so I really canít say. However, The Battle for Wine and Love: or How I Saved the World from Parkerization provides a captivating and passionate story. Not only will it prompt you to book the next flight to France, but it will definitely make you look at wine in a different light.

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