Caitlin will be writing a post for us each month pairing our featured selection with a wine that book clubs can enjoy when they gather to discuss the book. We are so excited about this series and are thrilled to introduce Caitlin and her taste in books and wine!
As a professional wine expert, a writer, and a voracious reader, I can say with absolute certainty that the best pair for a great glass of wine, other than food, is a good juicy, chewy book. Like chocolate and peanut butter or Lennon and McCartney, wine drinking and reading rates as one of the all-time masterful matches.
Drinking wine while reading not only makes the experience a lot more fun, it actually adds a rich, layered dimension to the whole experience. Wines provide flavors, aromas, textures, and tastes that truly echo people, places, even things. When chosen wisely, a wine can make tangible the words on a page, giving sensory expression to the very ideas the book inspired in your imagination. But what wines do you pick with what books?
In Wineocology, I provide the principles of making the perfect pairs. When I’m pairing wine with food, I pick wines that highlight and reflect back the overall essence of the food. Or I choose wines that clarify a particular characteristic in the food that I want to enhance. These same exact principles can be applied to matching wines with books.
Choosing a good accompanying wine is a lot like choosing this month’s book club selection. You’re looking for quality, adventure, intellectual stimulation, and above all, style. You want to focus on the overall atmosphere of the book, and/or the personalities of the central character, and pour wines that highlight and reflect back those traits.
Here are my recommendations for three of my most recent books and wine pairs:
Magical, elusive, maritime, ethereal, fantastic, perplexing, bitter-sweet, deep, and ultimately spiritual. Great Pinot Noir, like life, can be incredibly difficult and wonderfully ecstatic. Pinot Noir is the great mystery grape. Alternately bitter, angular, and complex, Pinot is the great spiritual quest of the wine world. It leaves you hanging and frustrates you with its maddening changeability. But in the end, the fascinating and subtle layers of aromas and flavors it reveals are as compelling and transporting as finding enlightenment itself. Like the Life of Pi, great Pinot Noir is a magical and delicious journey.
The cinsault-based Meritage blend of Lebanon’s Château Musar is the perfect parallel for Dave Eggars’ stark and contemporary novel. A Hologram for the King is the tale of a struggling businessman trying to bridge the past with the present in a country trying to bridge the gap between East and West. Château Musar’s Lebanese founder, winemaker Gaston Hochar, had the same ambitions, to import the great winemaking traditions of Bordeaux to his native country in order to make a truly unique and fabulous wine. He succeeded. Musar Rouge is surprising, mysterious, complex, intense, and fragile tasting all at the same time. The wine’s dryness, angularity, and earthy spicy character are simultaneously evocative of great French wine and the jagged, hard Middle Eastern desert from which it springs.
Spicy, soft, juicy, versatile, luscious, bold, and above all else, full of pleasure and fun! Zinfandel is the perfect wine to accompany Wineocology. The heart of the book is a methodology that brings you closer to wine. It heightens your awareness of, and your ability to, enjoy the sensual pleasures all around you. The books is fun and irreverent, entertaining yet intellectually enlightening, and like great Zinfandel, it’s complex and compelling while never losing its accessibility, charm, and fun. While reading, the author recommends a super-sized glass of this amazing wine. Cheers!
Caitlin Stansbury is an accredited specialist in viticulture, vinification, food and wine pairing, and wines of the world. The owner of the award winning wine and beverage consulting firm, Wineocology (wineocology.com), Caitlin was honored as “Best Sommelier” by L.A. Magazine, won “Best Wine Bar” for clients in the L.A. Times, and was seen as the resident wine expert, “The Wine Professor,” on the WE Network.
About Ariel Lawhon
Ariel Lawhon is the co-founder of She Reads, novelist, blogger, storyteller, and life-long reader. She lives in Texas with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.