Set foot in a liquor store, and the amount of wine bottles can be overwhelming. Between color and country and vintage, there is an endless amount of different wines to choose from. In her book Naked Wine: Letting Grapes Do What Comes Naturally, writer Alice Feiring examines the winemaking process and the wine industry, presenting a case for natural-made wine.
Feiring is a food and wine journalist well known for her role as a critic and connoisseur of the beverage. The overall theme of this book is that too many wines are extravagantly made with multiple additives and that good wine should be made naturally, without the pomp and circumstance to detract from the ultimate result. By making this argument, Feiring has sparked considerable controversy in the field. She is critical of some of the top wine experts, and Naked Wine is bound to spur debate.
The book is told in narratives revolving around this main theme that there should be more natural wine, interspersed with personal stories such as her participation in wine tastings and wine critique. These accounts are combined with factual information about the history of winemaking and the wine process. Feiring describes her adventures with an easy-going inflection. Several of her accounts are quite humorous as well as fascinating, inserting her personal ideas and asides into her writing. Her stories will keep readers entertained with charm and wit.
Feiring acquires these stories from travels all over the world, places like France and California and Spain. There are encounters with several different types of people, from old family growers to others just starting out in the business, introducing her readers to several colorful characters that, while real, feel as if they could easily fit into the cast of any well-written fiction story. Itís a field of varied people with varied backgrounds brought together by their love of wine, creating fascinating personal encounters.
Despite her anecdotal narratives, Feiring has a definite point to make about the need for more natural wine, and she doesnít let the reader forget it. The humor and adventure never detracts from this main theme, and Feiring makes her case with powerful rhetoric as only a truly passionate writer can do. The detailed descriptions of the process make her writing clunky in some parts, but Feiring does her best to provide details without becoming boring, and she seems to do so with success. Some readers may struggle with the various foreign names and terminology, but thatís to be expected. Overall, Feiringís candor about current practices of the wine industry will pique the interest of readers and incite them to do more research into this topic.
The book culminates in an encounter with a wine guru who was one of the first to champion natural-made wine. This climatic scene is both fascinating and humorous, and Fiering describes the encounter with vivid imagery. At the end of the book there is a guide to natural wines for any reader interested in sampling them, as well as a list of approved additives that may make wine drinkers think twice about the liquid in their glass.
It isnít necessary to be a great wine lover to appreciate Naked Wine. Itís an interesting book for a connoisseur, and these people will have a leg up on some of that pesky terminology, but that doesnít mean that a casual wine drinker or even someone with no interest in the topic wonít appreciate the story. Whether itís read with a glass of wine or a glass of water, Naked Wine is a compelling read for anyone, and that speaks to Feiringís talents as a writer.