I will sit down with a bowl of popcorn and glass of wine to accompany a book more often than I do for a movie or show. Therefore, I began pairing wines with books I’d recommend and sharing these on my Instagram and Wine365.com. Below is a collection of the top 6 that recently stood out the most to me.
How do I choose the wine?
I know what kind of wine will be a good match once I’ve read a decent amount of the book, or even by the end. I think about the reading experience (fast-paced? tense? gorgeous description? short stories or a doorstopper?), the characters, the overall message or “feel” of the book, and…then I figure out which wine would enhance the reading experience! Clearly, this is an exact science and your reading pleasure will only be guaranteed with the right wine, here.
How do I choose the book?
Like any voracious reader, I have a TBR list that’s, like, 10,000 books long. I add any books that sound appealing: recommendations, “best of,” shout-outs on podcasts, newsletters, or after searching “books that are like X,” or “authors similar to Y.” Then I see which are available in the library, whether through Kindle or physical form. Audiobooks are great, too, but I regularly listen to several podcasts, which have first dibs on my ears.
I don’t review any books I wouldn’t recommend to a friend, so it was hard to choose among all I’ve reviewed, since I’ve really enjoyed them all. Hopefully, these book and wine pairings will be helpful to another avid reader!
Book and wine pairing recommendations
Speculative Fiction/Fantasy and Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke is one of those rare books that leaves me thinking about it long after I’ve finished. It’s mysterious and totally original. The protagonist is fascinating and the setting is infinite and otherworldly, yet weirdly familiar. I’d recommend picking this up without reading anything else about it (don’t even peak at the blurb!).
I paired it with a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon by Montes because its cryptic nature calls for a grape that can be brooding, layered, and in-depth. And the statue-like angel logo of Montes Winery is perfect…But I’m not saying why. You’ll have to read it and find out!
Dystopian and Argentinian Malbec
One of the best dystopian books I’ve read lately is The Book of Koli by M. R. Carey. It’s eerie and unsettling but totally possible, as only the best dystopian fiction can be. It explores classic dystopian questions of technology, climate change, and how human society adapts (or fails to) with a fresh take and characters you root for. I couldn’t put it down.
Alta Vista Vive Malbec is the perfect wine pairing—Vive, or alive! Without giving any spoilers, the environment of future Earth is much more LIVELY than we know it today. Go find a chunk of time to sit down, enjoy this book, and pour yourself a glass of fresh, fruity Vive Malbec from Argentina. It’s an approachable, fruity, spicy, everyday wine that will have you reaching for one more sip as you read just one more page.
An essay collection with Pinot Gris from Alsace
Too Much and Not the Mood by Durga Chew-Bose caught me by surprise! Why? Because even though it’s a collection of personal essays, it was totally captivating, like recognizing someone else’s thoughts as my own.
Pinot Gris Roche Calcaire from Domaine Zind-Humbrecht was the perfect match because as exciting as “personal essays” sounds, Pinot Gris can be just as tame. But like the book, Roche Calcaire surprises with complexity—and residual sugar! (Weren’t expecting that, were you?) Domaine Zind-Humbrecht is renowned for its strict biodynamic methods and dozens of wine labels that showcase all the different terroirs of Alsace.
Historical Fiction with Loire Valley sparkling wine
Olivia, Mourning and The Way the World Is by Yael Politis are no murder mysteries or psychological thrillers—it’s historical fiction—but I have not turned pages this fast in a long time! And that’s because of the beautiful, clear writing, historical detail so real it feels like watching a movie, characters you root for, and…a gut-punch that comes out of nowhere.
I’m posting two books because you cannot read the first without immediately reaching for the second, just like you can’t drink one glass of Bouvet Ladubay Signature Brut without quickly refilling. The more I read these, the more I loved them; the more I drink this sparkling wine from the Loire Valley, France, the more it grows on me! Every time I pop a bottle of this méthode traditionnelle it’s just as fresh, bright, and bubbly as I’m hoping for: it has notes of crisp citrus, yellow flowers, and toast with well-balanced acidity and elegance. Open a good book, pair Bouvet with cheese, and call it an evening.
A New York City classic and a Sake cocktail
It’s Sex in the City meets Madmen. I didn’t know what I was getting into when I picked this up, but I’m glad I did. The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe is a ton of fun! An NYC classic published in 1958, it follows four young women beginning their city adventures. Careers, first dates, relationship problems: the similarities to today are surprising and make you wonder how far we have (or have not) come, yet allows you to feel close to a time and place that happened decades ago.
The characters drank scotch or brandy on every other page, and when they weren’t, it was a cocktail. So, I mixed up a delicious saketini: 2.5 oz. Chikurin Junmai Ginjo sake + 1 oz. vodka + sliver of cucumber. Any good quality sake works well, but a Junmai Ginjo grade is light and refreshing, so it went well with the cucumber.
Non-fiction for writers and a Sardinian wine with a story
Story Genius by Lisa Cron is an incredible book for any aspiring—or established—writer. It’s one of my all-time favorites, and one of the few books I read, then bought a copy to refer to and read over and over again. It is intuitive, instructive, not formulaic, and full of wisdom. Let this book and a sip of Barrua get your tall tales going.
Like all great wines, Barrua has a fascinating story behind it. A red blend “Super Sardinian,” it uses a grape of Spanish origin, Carignano, which founding winemaker Giacomo Tachis intuited would grow beautifully on the sunny Italian island. Even Barrua’s label has a story to tell: it depicts the front of a 12th century coin found in the vineyards inscribed with “Rex Baresonus,” or the King of Sardinia crowned in 1146. Finally, its denomination Isola dei Nuraghi refers to the island’s ancient stone structures from the Nuragic civilization…all highly fascinating and mysterious, like the best stories are.