We get a lot of joy out of pairing popular books with delicious wines. In our first Bibliobar installment, we offer a few recommendations for what to read along with your Cabernet, Malbec, Bubbly, and House Red, including “several bottles of red” for Hemingway. Continuing with the wine list, here are some further recommendations:
Fancy a glass of white wine tonight?
Pinot Grigio and Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book
Pinot Grigio is described as “light”, “crisp” and “dry”, and that makes it a perfect match for The Summer Book, the story of an elderly artist and her 6-year-old granddaughter set upon a tiny island in the gulf of Finland. The book was first published in Swedish in 1972 and released in English in 2003. In 2008, the New York Review of Books re-released the novel with an introduction by Kathryn Davis.
Chardonnay and Pat Conroy’s The Prince of Tides
Chardonnay is a dry, medium- to full-bodied wine with moderate acidity and alcohol. Its flavors range from apple and lemon to papaya and pineapple, and it also shows notes of vanilla when it’s aged with oak. Pat Conroy was a master storyteller, digging deep to portray tough characters and complex emotions and relationships generally set against the hot muggy background of low country South Carolina. The two are a perfect pair to enjoy while watching the sunset on a deck overlooking a bay.
More in the mood for a Red Wine?
Merlot and Somerset Maugham’s The Painted Veil
Merlot has dark fruit flavors of black cherry, blackberry, plum, and raspberry layered with herbal notes and undertones of vanilla and mocha. The wine may have gone out of favor in recent years, but the taste can be deep and complex, like Somerset Maugham’s heartbreaking 1925 novel, The Painted Veil. It tells the story of Kitty Garstin, a twenty-five year old debutante, who feels pressured to accept the proposal from physician Walter Fane. After they settle in Hong Kong, Kitty’s husband discovers she is having an affair and threatens to divorce her if she doesn’t travel with him to a cholera-stricken village.
Claret and Kate Chopin’s The Awakening
Claret is another term for Bordeaux or Cabernet-based wines, and it is memorably lush with a tapestry of smooth tannins and succulent flavors of wild berries, plum, and anise. Comparably lush is Kate Chopin’s early feminist novel, set in the sweltering summer on the shore of Louisiana. First published in 1899, The Awakening portrays a young wife’s infidelities and it utterly shocked audiences. Claret is mentioned throughout the novel, which could be enjoyed across a few summer evenings.
Or perhaps a Rosé?
Rosé and Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer
Rosé is a light red wine that features a flavor profile reminiscent of red fruit, flowers, citrus, and melon, depending on the actual variety of grape. It has come into fashion more in the last few years, and so have romance and erotica novels. First published in 1934 in Paris, Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller was banned for more than 30 years in the UK and US because it was considered pornographic. The novel led to more than 60 obscenity trials before being deemed as acceptable literature by the US Supreme Court, ushering in a new era of what was allowed in literature. So, thanks to Henry Miller, you can now get a little risqué with your rosé.
Amy C. Manikowski is a writer living in Asheville, NC.