This past Thursday, we chatted about book and bottle pairings as holiday gifts on Breakfast Television. Words and wine seem like a natural pairing to me … here are my favourites. What are yours?
The publisher selected 30 classic works of literature and assigned each a beautiful colour. Then the editors organized them in a rainbow of words so spectacular that you’re going to want to line them up on your shelves and just look at them.
Wolf Blass Yellow Label Sparkling Brut, South East Australia, Australia: Green apple fresh with zesty lime. Terrific bubbly for this price. Perfect for any large festive gathering. Pair with: aperitif, lightly grilled seafood platters, canapés. Drink: 2011-2013. 708290 11% 750 mL $17.95 Score: 87/100.
2. The Buckshaw Chronicles: Volume 1 by Alan Bradley
The Buckshaw Chronicles brings together under one spine the bestselling The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag, and A Red Herring Without Mustard. Follow our precocious amateur detective, Flavia, with a passion for poison as she investigates the death of a man in her very own backyard’s cucumber patch, goes behind the scenes of a puppet show to find out who wanted the puppet master dead, and as she looks into the crystal ball to find out why corpse after corpse is being found in Bishop’s Lacey.
Gabbiano 2007, Chianti Classico, Tuscany D.O.C.G., Italy: Rich, deep and full-bodied with gorgeous lifted notes of black cherry and violets. The velvet, supple texture of this wine is balanced by mouth-watering juiciness. This is an incredible wine for the price point: stock up! Pair with: pizza, sausages, lasagna. Drink: 2009-2016. 219808 14% XD 750 mL $15.95 Score: 90/100.
3. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
A beautifully rendered novel told in the voice of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley, full of historical richness.
Liberty School Syrah 2008, California, United States: Juicy and succulent with aromas and flavours of fleshy dark plums. Loaded with mulberry and blackberry notes that glide and slide along polished tannins with a medium- to full-bodied weight. Lovely! Drink: 2012-2015. 942383 13.50% D 750 mL $18.95 Score: 90/100.
4. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
Recently retired, sweet, emotionally numb Harold Fry is jolted out of his passivity by a letter from Queenie Hennessy, an old friend, who he hasn’t heard from in twenty years. She has written to say she is in hospice and wanted to say goodbye. Leaving his tense, bitter wife Maureen to her chores, Harold intends a quick walk to the corner mailbox to post his reply but instead, inspired by a chance encounter, he becomes convinced he must deliver his message in person to Queenie–who is 600 miles away–because as long as he keeps walking, Harold believes that Queenie will not die.
TILIA Torrontes 2010, Salta, Argentina: My favourite wine from this winery! Floral, white peach notes nuzzle up from the glass. Cool refreshment follows with every zippy, mouth-watering swallow. Great as an aperitif or companion to many dishes. Pair with: seafood, salads. Drink: 2010-2013. 186403 13.50% D 750 mL $12.95
5. Imagining Canada: A Century of Photographs Preserved by The New York Times edited by William Morassutti
Sophisticated and well-curated, this photographic tour through Canada’s history documents the nation’s evolution over more than a century, as seen through the lens of photographers from The New York Times. The book compiles more than 100 iconic, momentous and inspiring images of Canada and includes ten commentary pieces from a range of important thinkers, historians and writers, including National Chief Shawn Atleo, MP Justin Trudeau, historians Charlotte Gray, Peter C. Newman and Tim Cook, and sports columnist Stephen Brunt.
Southbrook Vineyards Connect Red 2011, V.Q.A., Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, Canada: A smokey wine with enticing dark fruit aromas. Full-bodied with a terrific acidity balance for many meals. Pair with: The fruitiness and moderate alcohol match well with beef or veggies and (Madras) curry.. Drink: 2011-2014. 249565 13% XD 750 mL $14.95 Score: 87/100
For Epicurious’s enormous and devoted community — 7.5 million unique visitors a month — and home cooks seeking a perfectly curated roster of diverse recipes, here are the top-rated recipes from Epi, compiled conveniently in a book with brand-new stunning colour photography.
Beringer Stone Cellars Merlot 2009, California, USA: Plummy and juicy with loads of dark fruit flavour and character. Forget boring merlot, try this one. Perfect for pizza night. Pair with: roast chicken, lasagna or pizza and pasta. Drink: 2012-2015. 462473 13.50% XD 750 mL $13.95 Score: 88/100.
7. Modern Flavours of Arabia by Suzanne Husseini
This book takes you on a culinary journey to the Middle East to explore a food culture that spans centuries. Each of the recipes will surprise and delight you and bring new colors, aromas and flavors to your table.
Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand: Lime zest lift with herbal refreshment! Mouth-watering acidity makes this a lovely aperitif or companion to many dishes. Pair with: spinch quiche, vegetarian dishes, seafood, steamed mussels. Drink: 2010-2013. 619452 12% XD 750 mL $15.95
8. I’m Your Man by Sylvie Simmons
The definitive biography of one of the most emigmatic, beloved, and celebrated artists of our time, Leonard Cohen.
Sledgehammer Zinfandel 2010, California, United States: Mocha and coffee with blackberry and brambleberry. Full-bodied and smooth and ready for your barbecued meats. Drink: 2012-2015. 230466 13.90% D 750 mL $15.95 Score: 88/100.
9. The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
Mary Anne Schwalbe was a renowned educator who spent the last 10 years of her life building libraries in Afghanistan. But her story here begins with a mocha, dispensed from a machine in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Over coffee, Will casually asks his mom what she’s been reading. The conversation they have grows into tradition: soon they mutually agree to read the same books and share them together as Mary Anne waits for her chemotherapy treatments. The books they read, chosen by both, range from the classic to the popular: from The Painted Veil to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; from My Father’s Tears to the Christian spiritual classic Daily Strength for Daily Needs. Their discussions reveal how books become increasingly important to the connection between a remarkable woman whose life is coming to a close, and a young man becoming closer to his mom than ever before. This is a memoir.
La Posta Angel Paulucci Vineyard Malbec 2010, Mendoza, Argentina: Mocha and coffee-richness on the nose followed by tasty ripe black plums on the palate and a good grip. Decant 1-2 hours. Drink: 2012-2015. 75515 13.50% XD 750 mL $15.95 Score: 88/100.
You can also pick up Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines (below) or Red, White and Drunk All Over if you want a book that reads well with either red or white wines … in fact, it’s best to be drinking when you read either book.
Posted with permission of Breakfast Television.
Wine and Books: Holiday Gifts – Breakfast Television
Kevin: You know we would talk a lot about wine pairings with food, with dessert and with dinner but I’ve never really heard of wine pairings with a book. This is going to be interesting. We brought in, not only an author but a sommelier/author. Her name is Natalie MacLean and I’m going to point to your book here. This is Unquenchable.
Natalie: Thank you, that’s right.
Kevin: And that just out?
Natalie: It’s just out in paperback and there is a new chapter in book on wine pairings. I was going to pair it with a certain wine but then I thought, no, this is a very versatile book and it drinks well with anything and actually it reads better when you’re drinking.
Kevin: So, Unquenchable is about?
Natalie: It’s about adventures with obsessive-compulsive winemakers and through their stories you learn the story of wines. We went to Argentina, South Africa, Niagara and all over the world … drinking thousands of wines and having adventures.
Kevin: Let’s start. Let’s see how this works. How do pair the iciest Sparkling wine here? What are you pairing with that?
Natalie: So I paired this with a library. Its kind of a rainbow library. The publisher has taken thirty classic books and assigned each of them a colour. So, you have this instant library and I paired it with Wolf Blass because he was one the first producers to colour code his labels. You see the Sparkling wine there but it has a Shiraz that’s green, a Cabernet that’s red. It helps people remember what they are buying.
Kevin: That’s very true.
Kevin: And I was telling you that Wolf Blass was on the show not too long ago.
Kevin: This is a nice…
Natalie: Yes, this is a Classico Chianti and I paired it with a mystery novel … The Buckshaw Chronicles. The plot is she’s a cross between Eloise and Sherlock Holmes. Her name is Flavia de Luce. In honour of her heritage I’ve paired it with a nice dark, brooding, mysterious Chianti.
Kevin: And we should point out these are all under $20 wine.
Natalie: They’re all under $20 and some of them are under $15 and I have posted them at nataliemaclean.com if you’re trying to write them down.
Kevin: Okay, so now this one, The Paris Wife.
Natalie: It’s a fictionalized account of Ernest Hemingway’s wife … Hadley Paris in the 1920’s. I thought, ‘What would be a good expat white wine?’ I chose the California Syrah Liberty and it’s evocative of the freedom and the way they found their voice in Paris in the 1920s.
Kevin: Alright … sounds good.
Kevin: This one is a Tilia wine, a little white and…
Natalie: The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry is about a gentleman who made a journey. He was a man in the middle age and he kept a letter from an old friend for 20 years. She’s in a hospice, dying and she asked him to come and visit her. So it’s about coming alive again even when you’re dying. This will awaken your senses. It’s a beautiful Torrontes from Argentina.
Kevin: This one is from The New York Times, however it’s called ‘Imagining Canada’.
Natalie: Exactly. It’s a photographic journey of a hundred years on Canada from New York Times’ photographers. To go with this, I’ve chosen a Canadian wine, one of our best from Southbrook Farms.
Kevin: Okay, Connect – Connector … it’s organic, as well.
Natalie: It is organic so it’s of the earth. I think it really connects.
Kevin: This was a tough one. It is ‘The Epicurious’. It’s a well-known cookbook.
Natalie: It is.
Kevin: How do you pair that?
Natalie: With a very versatile wine. I’ve chosen an American wine. They really test the recipes well on this website.
Kevin: I’m going to make sure I got the label.
Natalie: There you go.
Natalie: And I think this will go with a lot of the recipes, its plush, it’s smooth, it’s not too heavy or too light. It has versatility going with a lot of the meat based recipes.
Kevin: It’s a lot easier to pair a red, isn’t it?
Natalie: I think so, yes.
Kevin: You’ve chosen a lots of reds, but you do have a white here … Hawkes Bay.
Natalie: I do.
Kevin: And what’s it going with?
Natalie: This is flavours of Arabia. The author splits her time between the Middle East and Ottawa. She’s a Canadian writer and she has some wonderful new recipes and new flavours from the Middle East. I’ve chosen the Sauvignon Blanc because it has a lime lift that goes with spices, curries and all the flavours that are in this book.
Kevin: Two more quick ones.
Kevin: I’m Your Man, The Life of Leonard Cohen, yes Leonard Cohen.
Kevin: He’s a very interesting character.
Natalie: Absolutely. I chose something dark and brooding and kind of ‘first we take Manhattan’ kind of wine.
Natalie: It’s Sledgehammer Zinfandel.
Natalie: I think this goes with his biography.
Kevin: Alright and finally here The End of Your Life Book Club.
Natalie: Yes, this is a lovely book. It is a chronicle between a son and his mother. She’s at Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, dying and he asked her one day, “What are you reading?” They start reading the same books together to celebrate her life and they come together through books. I think you can come together through books and wine.
Kevin: Alright, here we go.
Natalie: Yes, absolutely cheers!
Kevin: Thank you very much, Natalie MacLean. If you want more details, she put the pairings on her website nataliemaclean.com.