I’m already savoring the books I plan to dive into this holiday season as much as the wines I’ll enjoy. Just for fun, I’ve paired some of this season’s bestsellers with this season’s best cellars. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) Let’s drink to the marriage of wine and words! Here are my Top 5 Wine & Book Pairings for the Holidays!
Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
What better way to brighten a grey title than with a pink wine? Mas Des Bressades Rosé Cuvée Tradition from the Rhone Valley in France is a vibrant rosé with flirty aromas of field strawberry and raspberry that are perfect for this erotic novel, the first of a trilogy. Yet the wine is also bone-dry and refreshing, with incredible quality and taste for this price. Perfect for a book that’s been described as Twilight for grown-ups.
Food and Wine Pairing: pan-fried sea scallops or planked salmon.
Drink: 2011-2014 | 950576 | $13.95 | Score: 88/100
Why Men Lie by Linden McIntyre
Yes, I was so tempted to pair this book with the Californian wine Fat Bastard, but then thought of a better match: Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay from Chile’s Casablanca Valley. This luscious, full-bodied chardonnay is a toast to all men who go off in a wild tangent in mid-life: Good wine and good riddance! There’s a buttery, hazelnut richness that’s both generous and multi-layered: exactly what you want in your divorce settlement.
Food and Wine Pairing: roast chicken, pasta in cream sauce and the new BMW he doesn’t realize that he just bought you.
Drink: 2012-2015 | 738393 | $17.95 | Score: 88/100
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen
This memoir by the former New York Times columnist about celebrating mid-life and aging reminds me of another favorite in the same genre: Nora Roberts’ I Feel Bad about My Neck. (She also wrote the book and screenplay for When Harry Met Sally.) My favorite line from Lots of Candles: “I’ve finally recognized my body for what it is: a personality-delivery system, designed expressly to carry my character from place to place, now and in the years to come. This book deserves a mature wine like Ghost Pines Cabernet Sauvignon Winemaker’s Blend from Napa and Sonoma countries, California, a spirited and full-bodied red brimming with fleshy black fruit aromas and ghostly memories on the finish.
Food and Wine Pairing: grilled steak and meat lovers’ pizza.
Drink: 2012-2016 | 135376 | $19.95 | Score: 90/100
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The movie is as gripping as the book, especially during the hunting scenes of the games themselves. (I won’t spoil it for you by divulging more.) Suffice to say that the appropriate wine is The Wolftrap, a blend of syrah, mourvèdre and viognier grapes from South Africa. Its full-bodied richness is balanced with plush tannins and savory dark fruit, exactly what you need to survive in the wild (or a weekend at the cottage).
Food and Wine Pairing: black bean sauces, rabbit, wild mushroom dishes and anything you can catch with your bow and arrow.
Drink: 2012-2015 | 626333 | $13.95 | Score: 88/100
A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
HBO is now airing the second novel in this wildly successful series of six books about seven fictional, medieval kingdoms who fight for dominance. In honour of Queen Cersei Lannister, a central character in the plot twists, I’ve selected Peter Lehmann Wines Cabernet Sauvignon from the Barossa Valley, South Australia. On the bottle label is The Queen of Clubs, or “Gambler’s card” that represents the risk winemaker Peter Lehmann took in starting the winery back in 1979. This full-bodied red has the structure and strength that you’d expect from a queen (or king), yet it’s also elegant and balanced, unlike Cersei herself.
Food and Wine Pairing: barbecued spare ribs, brisket and great ballet scenes.
Drink: 2011-2017 | 605741 | $19.95 | Score: 91/100
By Natalie MacLean
Natalie MacLean, author of the bestseller Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines, is also editor of the largest wine sites and mobile apps.