Keep the Cork: Interview with Fariha Róisín

[As it appears in ISSUE 08 of The Wine Zine]

As a writer, astrologer, teacher, and human being, born in Australia, raised in Canada, living in the US for the last 14 years, Fariha Róisín evades easy characterization. Rather than try to make sense of what or who she is, it’s more constructive to think about how she is. Deeply curious, adventurous, expansive: “I don’t have one way of being or wanting to be. And even with what I want to do, I see myself as a writer but also as someone who wants to be driven by that deep curiosity and pull towards the earth and different directions. I want to always have my work as being a beacon and reflection of something that’s possible. I want my work to help people to believe in more for themselves.”

Fariha’s books, which span genres, voices, and subjects, are a testament to her dynamism. Her most recent book, Who is Wellness For?, is both an exploration of how wellness has been commodified and appropriated from communities of color and a resource for self-care. Her forthcoming book of poetry, Survival Takes a Wild Imagination, ruminates with honesty and optimism on generational trauma, through questions about her relationship to herself, her estranged mother, the countries she’s moved through, the violence she’s lived through, and what this all means for human experience. The collection will be released in October 2023.

Of her two most recent works, Fariha cites these books as those “that I’m currently in conversation with myself over, and that’s really exciting to put out work that you’re still contending with.” Meanwhile, Fariha is working on two other books, teaching classes, and writing her weekly newsletter, How to Cure a Ghost.

For Fariha, pleasure and intentionality are at the center of everything – how she eats, drinks, reads, and writes. “Because I love pleasure,” she tells The Wine Zine. Intentional consumption, she says, is a journey towards yourself, a humbling discovery process of learning what you like and don’t like. Her journey with natural wine started because of chronic health issues, but has since blossomed into a meditation on freedom, companionship, and consumption. Especially through her relationships with other Muslims who drink, Fariha is empowered to debate and navigate certain questions about how she was raised and define spirituality on her own terms. “I think when I was younger I had this bullshit idea of total freedom as being able to do whatever you want all the time. But some bodies just can’t do that and I don’t necessarily have a body that feels good if I drink even more than twice a week. But that once a week when I have a drink is a deeply moving experience every time.”

Though writing can be lonely, Fariha finds reprieve sharing food and wine with friends. Sacred is the word she uses over and over again to describe cooking for people she loves, making them feel at home. Love of home cooking aside, she’s drunk natural wine in restaurants around the world and can’t resist a glass of Lambrusco or a sweaty glass of gamay at a good restaurant.

Drinking natural wine, she says, is a risk – but the risk is a required homage to the farmers and the winemakers honoring the land by farming responsibly and making wine honestly. “There’s an honor that goes into making this wine. I don’t think it’s too corny to ask for that kind of responsibility.”

Below, Fariha shares some memorable bottles and her masterclass charcuterie board for drinking something delicious.

Domaine Marcel Lapierre Morgon (Gamay, France)

I drank the "non-sulfur" version of this wine last year on a perfect summer's eve in Portland, where the wetness had turned all the foliage and leaves a rainforest green. I was on tour and met up with an old friend for dinner at Coquine, this delightful little French place, where we snagged a bottle of this delicious gamay. I drank it hungrily, devouring the food alongside it. By the time we finished, it was raining again and my lungs felt pristine. I felt ready, not leadened as I sometimes feel when wine drunk.

Claus Preisinger Puszta Libre! (Zweigelt, Austria)

I drank this wine for the first time in Portugal during the peak of the pandemic. I had gone to Lisbon to meet up with my lover at the time, and we spent copious amount of our time together drinking delicious natural wines. I am obsessed with a light chilled red -- the perfect drink for me, and this has the cherry and fruit-forward taste on point. It's terribly delicious! I buy it in bulk whenever I see it anywhere and savor it bottle by bottle.

Drinking snack: There’s these olives with anchovy paste in them that I’m obsessed with and I love eating them while I’m drinking. Then, there’s these great beef salami or Bresaola that I love eating. And goat cheddar. I eat it all together basically in this charcuterie board. And garlic toum.