Book Review: The Dirty Guide to Wine

Book Review: The Dirty Guide to Wine

Ten years ago, writer Alice Feiring told us that she “saved the world from Parkerization,” and now she’s back with this, her fourth book, which continues her unabashed love affair with natural wines.

With The Dirty Guide to Wine, Feiring (alongside master sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier) attempts to use soil (hency the “dirty” guide) as the common thread connecting various types of wine and regions in which they are made. If you’re the kind of person that really loves it when winemakers geek out on gravel composition and calcareous soil types, you’ll probably dig this conceit. The rest of us may find our eyes glazing over… and even Feiring can’t really keep it up forever, invariably falling back into the more typical regional categorizations you’d find on a wine list after she has broken up her chapters based on soil type.

It’s worth noting here that the book’s coverage is limited almost exclusively to Europe. While Feiring may nod toward California in an aside or a chart, she offers no serious coverage of this or any other New World region in this book, which limits its utility. Namely, it’s a bummer that Feiring doesn’t seriously compare Old World and New World soil types, which is a real shame considering that terroir is one of the main reasons cited that Burgundy and California Pinot Noir can be so divergent. Wouldn’t it be smart to talk about how the same grape grows in these different soil types?

Instead, she delves in depth into various types of dirt, usually in a vacuum, before hitting you with some personal anecdote and then slapping you with a list of her personally recommended wines — all biodynamic, organic, or both.

Safe to skip unless you’re a budding geologist who happens to love wine.


The Dirty Guide to Wine




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

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