What’s the first pairing you recommend?
We’re starting on the west coast with The New York Times bestselling memoir, Wild, by Cheryl Strayed.
After Cheryl loses her mother to cancer and her own marriage is destroyed, she decides to hike the Pacific Northwest Trail, more a thousand miles, from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State alone and without any training.
It’s a deeply moving story of how this young woman heals through this treacherous journey
I’d pair this book with Gray Monk Odyssey, a vibrant sparkling wine from British Columbia, not only for the name, of course, but also because this is a wine of celebration and triumph with vibrant aromas of lime zest and lemon sunshine.
Gray Monk Estate Winery Odyssey White Brut Sparkling Wine
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia BC V.Q.A., Canada
What do you have next for us?
I have something even closer to home, Swing, by Ashleigh Renard, who is originally from Manitoba.
This is the story of a perfectionist mother who feels disconnected from her husband after years of marriage. She suggests they revitalize their marriage trying sex clubs and other activities for swingers.
It’s hilarious, and yet it hits at the heart of what we all want: deep connection.
Stel + Mar Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
Lodi, California, United States
The second is this seductive Pinot Noir from La Crema. Pinot is the heartbreak grape, but it finishes with great sensuality. So again perfect.
La Crema Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2017
Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, United States
Let’s move on to your next book and bottle.
I have this spellbinding mystery, A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.
It’s the tale of a young scholar and a descendant of witches who discovers a long-lost, enchanted manuscript in Oxford University’s library.
It summons a magical underworld, as well as her romantic interest, a vampire geneticist.
I’d pair this novel with Relax Riesling from Germany, not only because you’ll want a break from the tension of the books, but also because this wine has an electric, racy acidity that’ll spark your imagination.
Sounds great! What do you have next?
I have Ontario native Jael Richardson’s Gutter Child debut novel, a fierce coming-of-age story set in a dystopian world.
It’s been described as “a book you can’t just read; you feel it, you hear it, you carry it with you.”
That’s how I feel about great wines: they haunt you long after you’ve finished them. I’d pair Richardson’s book Thirty Bench Small Lot Cabernet Franc from Niagara made by rock star winemaker Emma Garner. The wine is bold, dark and brooding, with a great structure and a finish that lasts forever, like Richardson’s bestselling Gutter Child.
Thirty Bench Small Lot Cabernet Franc 2016
Beamsville Bench, Ontario V.Q.A., Canada
Delicious! What’s your final pairing?
I have Gabrille Hamilton’s Blood, Bones & Butter that follows the journey of this acclaimed chef from her childhood to running one of New York’s most famous restaurants.
It’s perfect for foodies, but also for those who love a great story about struggling with your career, life and love.
I’d pair it with this lovely, light and refreshing French Rosé from Delas in the Cotes-du-Rhone because it’s the quintessential summer wine with notes of field strawberries, and it’s so food-friendly that it would drink well with many of Hamilton’s famous dishes.
Delas Saint-Esprit Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2020
Côtes du Rhône, Rhône A.C., France
Sounds great! Would you also pair any of these wines with your own books, Natalie?
Sure, both of my books would pair well–and read better– if you’re drinking while reading them, including Unquenchable: A Tipsy Search for the World’s Best Bargain Bottles, and Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass.
These books have day-in-the-life stories about becoming a sommelier for night at a five diamond restaurant, working the harvest in California and trying to sell wine at a busy liquor store so that readers can learn how to taste, pair and buy wine without falling asleep.
You can find all of Natalie’s book and bottle pairings on her website at nataliemaclean.com.