How a Wine Writer Spends Her Sundays
Wine bottles are strewn all over the floor and there is a working bathtub in the middle of the kitchen in Alice Feiring’s fifth-floor walk-up on Elizabeth Street, where she has lived since 1988. The renowned wine writer tends to pass most of the day in her neighborhood of NoLIta,where Wine Therapy, a shop that carries the natural wines she famously favors, is just down the street. The one exception? Her weekly drive to Bayside, Queens, where her mother, Ethel Feiring, lives.
Ethel figures prominently in Ms. Feiring’s new memoir, “To Fall in Love, Drink This.” Along with the wine recommendations and sketches of vintners and varietals are vivid portraits of headstrong Ethel, Ms. Feiring’s libertine father, Philip, and her beloved brother, Andrew. A serial killer and various boyfriends, past and present, also make appearances.
MOVE IT My time is really squished on Sunday if I’m not traveling. I get up really early and don whatever sort of gear, depending on the weather, and do a short five-block run, because that’s all I believe in. I like my knees and ankles. I’d do that or I like Morris dancing. I may go in the backyard and do a few jigs.
MORNING RITUAL If I don’t have enough bagels in the freezer, I’ll run down the block to Black Seed Bagels and get some. I’ll pick up the Sunday Times, which is at the doorstop. Peter, my boyfriend, would have the water on and probably has taken yesterday’s smoked Scottish salmon from Russ & Daughters out. And we will start the morning ritual of coffee, lox, bagels, cream cheese, capers and a very good tomato if they’re in season.
OLD FOLKIES Peter and I will spend some time playing music, he on my Gibson acoustic, me on my fiddle or button accordion. He’s a far better musician than I am. We’re old folkies. He does Travis-style picking, as I did before I jumped ship for other instruments. Lots of times we just jam, make stuff up, riff on old-timey jug band, jazz or Irish veins. But we’ve been working on some things like “St. Louis Tickle,” Holy Modal Rounders tunes like “Griselda,” David Bromberg’s “Midnight on the Water” and some Turlough O’Carolan tunes.
WINE-READY I try to do two hours in the morning on my newsletter. Then, maybe I’ll hit the Tompkins Square Greenmarket and scrounge around for things I need to get for Ethel. Sometimes, I spend the night at my mother’s. If I do, I make sure I’ve got enough wine to get me through the night. There is a bottle of 60-year-old Fleischmann’s gin that I took from her last apartment. That’s there if I need it.
ERRANDS WITH ETHEL The important thing is to take her to Great Neck to the kosher supermarket. It’s called Shop Delight. I get her set up for the week. It has to be a lot of prepared foods. If I’m staying, I get enough to make dinner. Otherwise, Peter and I hang out with her a little bit more. Then I take Peter over the bridge to his home in Hudson Heights. Then I go home.
FRIENDS If I am working on something, like an essay, I have a Thursday night writing group that also meets on Sunday. Since the weeks are so compressed, I usually use Sunday night to catch up with friends I’ve been neglecting. I have a friend, a psychiatrist called Glen. We usually catch dinner at Veeray da Dhaba, an Indian restaurant that doesn’t get enough press. It has the best paneer makhani (cottage cheese cubes in a spicy tomato sauce).
FIELD WORK I usually catch up on wine bars. I’ll go to comfort places like The Ten Bells. Sunday night is never going to be a Brooklyn day, because I’ve been on the road with mom. So it has to be within walking distance. I’ll go into Wine Therapy, a great shop near me, to browse to see what’s new. Since the pandemic, it’s been more important. Now, tastings are starting up again, but I’m really off my tasting game, so I’m relying more on what is in stores. I love going to Discovery Wines to see what they’ve got.
START IT UP Before my nightcap I get together my levain, it’s usually rye based. Another Covid baker, I’m afraid. I usually work the dough on Monday morning and bake on Wednesday.
SIP AND READ I usually do go to sleep with a bit of Scotch. I’m a believer in the nightcap. Lately, I like Port Askaig 8 year-old, if I can find it. It’s smoky. And then I catch up on reading. I am so sick and tired of reading only wine books. I am reading “The Ice Storm” by Rick Moody. I love the movie. It spoke to me a great deal. Put the WASP family into an Orthodox Jewish family and then you get my life. The book is a lot grittier than the movie. It’s almost Rothian. I wasn’t quite prepared for it. This might be a rare case where I like the movie more than the book.
Sunday Routine readers can follow Alice Feiring on Twitter @alicefeiring and on Instagram @alice.feiring.