My family made wine when I was growing up. My grandfather was a vintner, and he started some of the first vineyards on the Central Coast of California. I learned about winemaking through osmosis, and then worked in the wine industry for nearly a decade, right out of college. The wine world is an interesting one, and I find the process of making wine somewhat poetic.
Without further ado, here are some wine and book pairings for your next book club, or honestly for whenever you want an accompanying glass (or bottle) during reading hour.
For readers who like…
Victorianism: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens + Barolo
Barolo is classic, and it’s high quality. To pair, we have Oliver Twist, which may be my favorite Dickens book. Both the wine and the book are heavy, yet nuanced. Good quality stuff.
Informational: At Home by Bill Bryson + Syrah
At Home is about how houses have come to be the way that they are…it’s so much more exciting when Bryson says it. Syrah is one of my favorite varietals, especially the bramble-fruity kind. You probably won’t get far reading while drinking it, but the little bit of tipsy overlap you’ll get will be worth it.
Classic Fantasy: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien + Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is a fussy grape, and it really focuses on the details. It’s complex, yet it has a light, elvish body. There is a lot to think about, and it is the wine of choice for academics. When you’re in Oxford, maybe you can try to get some at The Eagle and the Child.
Classic Play: Hamlet by William Shakespeare + Rose
To be red, or not to be red, that is the question. Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous single fermentation, or to take arms against a sea of tannins.
Modern Fantasy: Graceling by Kristin Cashore + Grenache
Grenache used to be primarily a blending grape, but now it is its own genre. And it stands really well on its own. It’s light-bodied, like pinot noir, but the skin of the grape is thicker, so it has more tannin. Graceling, and really anything by Cashore, is so good. She writes, sans outline, until a story emerges. Normally, I don’t recommend this method, as a heavy plotter myself, but it’s just so good. You’re completely immersed in her world… like a cool climate Grenache.
Modernism: Ulysses by James Joyce + Chardonnay
I have to be in a very particular mood to read Modernism (and that mood is forced-by-professor), and I have to be in an equally particular situation to reach for Chardonnay. But the little bit of butter on the finish would go nicely with the brain hurt you get from trying to decode Ulysses. I also heard through the grapevine that James Joyce was partial to white wine, and this was readily available in Paris while he was writing the blasted thing. It would be like Joyce to write something you could only understand while being a certain amount inebriated, so bring your Sherlock Holmes hat.
Comedy: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling + Sav Blanc
It’s light, crisp, and fun. You want to laugh and not take yourself too seriously? Get a fruity California Sav and read a couple chapters.
Inspirational: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown + Champagne
If you really want a good pep talk, take it with some bubbly. It gets into your system faster. My first thought for an inspirational read was Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, but by his recommendation I’d have to pair it with water.
Business: Zero to One by Peter Thiel + Cold Climate Syrah
Some may say that Pinot is best suited for the intellectuals, but I honestly think a complex, cool climate Syrah has the full body and flavor to match the philosophical business concepts Thiel presents. Plus, the tannins are smoother, so it goes down easily. Thinking about starting a business? Read this book. And then celebrate with something from like, Santa Rita Hills or Edna Valley.
American Classic: Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain + Merlot
What can I say? It’s a classic. Tom Sawyer’s mischief reminds me of my childhood, and a good merlot can bring on the nostalgia.
Nonfiction: Educated by Tara Westover + Sangiovese
There’s nothing like reading about fundamentalist Mormons that really makes you want to drink. Sangiovese is one of the best Italian reds, and you can feel good drinking it and knowing that you belong in society, with medicine and tank tops too. We are civilized!
Historical Fiction: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr + Chenin Blanc
This is a really moving story about a blind girl forced to flee Paris to Saint-Maulo during the Nazi occupation. Want to pretend you’re in France with her (probably not, how terrifying), drink what they were drinking (I mean, not the protagonist—she’s like, a small child).
I hope there’s a pairing that suits your occasion and interests. I may do more of these in the future. Until then, happy reading. 😉