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Trashing wine critic Alice Feiring: Part Two

April 30, 2013

I have the feeling that when Alice Feiring walks into a winery, the winemaker and owner of the winery stare at this five-foot one hundred pound woman and see a hand grenade in a dress with a short fuse. After all, here is a zealot who found her economic drawing card waving her natural-winemaking koran at the infidels who dare to make a living making wine she zealously disapproves of. She’s an organic Carrie Nation, wielding her sharpened-axe pallet at oak barrels. She either the Joker to Robert Parker’s Batman, or Batman to his Joker, either way, anyone caught in their crossfire gets their wine reviewed and damaged if they don’t meet the standards of these two people who consumer but don’t produce wine. In her epistle “The Battle For WIne and Love or How I saved The World from Parkerization,” she is like a pilot fish following a shark, and resents his views, but without him, she couldn’t exist. And who can argue that the terroir of soil, and climate define the wine, but who would want the terrior of Camden, New Jersey in a bottle?


And often does she make the smug, above-the-carnivore observation that she’s a vegetarian? I find it funny that someone who clearly has a low opinion of a meat eaters, somehow thinks it’s okay to be a noble grazing vegetarian who gets drunks (that’s healthy too, as long as the wine transports her because it never experienced micro-oxygenation, spinning cones, enzymes, designer yeasts.). Frankly, I distrust anyone who raves about cauliflower.


And one thing about Feiring she is very impressed with herself. But clearly at one-hundred pounds her skin-to-fruit ratio shows she needs more fruit to balance out her tanins. SHe’s found a way of turning her limitations to strengths. She might as well take her shot at marketing a push-down bra. She could use a little reverse-osomosis to give her body and heart more moisture. Her convictions have been dry-farmed, and her veins are over stressed. She’s in love with her natural yeast. She talks about stripping the flavors out of wine, while neglecting she is also stripping away a winery’s income because they don’t meet her standard.

Feiring criticizes Parker’s panegyric prose to heavily oaked and high alcohol fruit bombs laden with bret, but then I have to read what she feels passes for wine-appreciative prose of the nose.



But check out some of her descriptions of wine she admires:

  •  “like peonies pressed between the pages of a treasured novel.”
  •  “velvety violet petals sucked through a chalk straw”
  • “A skunk-like aroma beneath its wild blackberry fruit, racehorse muscle.”
  • “rose petal, suede tanins.”
  •  “soft tannins melted into the purity of baking bread and smoke and a touch of lime.”
  •  “made me think of tinned tomato juice warmth.”


Wow! And these compliments! I can come up with wine phrases like that by underlining every third word in a Sierra Club pamphlet.Most of these descriptions sound like something I’d brush off my pants after a hike in the fields, or smell and decide to send my jacket to the cleaners, or a stain I’d try to remove from my tie. Can you imagine if you saw these descriptions in a prose novel, like The Great Gatsby, you’d shut the book! “Gatsby and Daisey parted their lips, the moment melted like the puritiy of bread, and her rose petal aroma mingled with her sense of his racehorse muscles.”

Her smug pretentiousness made me want to go into a winery, sip the wine and say, “I get a hit of wisteria with clam sauce” or sniff the glass, and say of the bouquet, “I get disinfected bowling shoes with white shag carpeting from the seventies.”

And she mistakes freindship for other winemakers she has met in tastings, never putting it together that these people have to be nice to her while they are serving her homemade pate and saucisson.

And boy, does she have a high opinion of herself. In the book she meets one winemaker, who she could “fall in love with. No magical experience here. He was simply not interested.” I’m thinking–yeah, hard to believe. But oh, this Amelia Earhart of the vine is about to go on yet another partially subsidized wine junket to her beloved France or her  “European sorties” and says, “I was in a difficult place. I was looking forward to my solo adventure, in part to revisit my mouth, to contemplate life and love. I wanted to be morose if I felt like it. I wanted to have affairs if they came along.” What an adventuress. That observation is enough to make most men run for the nearest horizon. And I have to wonder what wine for a guy goes with her?

Regardless of how exalted an opinion Feiring has about herself, boy do her claws come out when she has to go wine tasting with an attractive woman. He friend shows up with a “towering blond woman in wine sales. This was a narcissistic, perpetually late, Manolo-mule-, push-upbra-,and essential oil-wearing yoga princess of a woman.” I always find it funny when a woman who isn’t attractive in the classic sense–unless you count a heavily eroded Greek marble statue with no distinguishing facial features missing arms–but is always cobra-snapping quick to sink her intellectual fangs into woman men find attractive, but at the same time doesn’t see anything wrong with herself going after winemakers or men she finds physically attractive. Can you imagine how the self-beautified Alice quietly seethed as she make incisive and self-perceptive insights into wine while the man pouring the wine was checking out the “towering blonde woman.”

And oh how she likes to make obscure but of-so-archly-hip-and-dry observations to distinguish herself: 1.) “looked like a fuzzy angel from a Win Wendes film.” 2.) “it was like going over to a hip hop DJ as ask fro Charles Trenet.” I assume these are supposed to be funny lines said by people who live in Manhattan too long.

Then again, how can you trust the palette of someone who loves the taste of cauliflower?”

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