Read and sip
Since the first human began drawing pictures on a cave wall, we have continually striven to communicate with each other in someway.
History tells us we’ve accomplished this communicating via various forms of hieroglyphics and over many years developed our various alphabets and the numerous platforms from paper to today’s high tech social media outlets.
However, there is one form of communication that is my favorite and that would be a book.
It was important to me to always have a book close by — whether in school, the corn field, the barn, the park or in the backpack. There was always a book nearby to give me peace and bring some newness into my life.
Like many of us, I’ve read books on the Rhine River, flying over the Atlantic Ocean, cruising at 35,000 feet over the eastern United States, riding a train into New York City, sitting in a park in Chicago, sitting on the edge of Old Man River (That’s the Mississippi River!) and watched the Pacific Ocean roll into the beach on the West Coast.
I read books sitting on an old John Deere Model A tractor in our hay field. Hey! I had to do something while the bales were being unloaded from the hay wagon. I think you get the picture that books were important to me and there are multiple reasons for that importance.
Books allowed me to expand my mind (There was plenty of need for that — ask my family, friends or anyone who knows me!), they helped me learn and be enriched, they helped me stay connected to things important to me, they helped me enjoy solitude (The art of cherishing being alone.) and they helped my to simply enjoy the simple things of life. Give a person a book and you give them possibilities.
And, along came this liquid called wine! Gosh, there was a need to expand my mind, to learn about it, to see why it was important to me and to simply enjoy the silence of wine. And, once again, books yelled to me.
Now I read a wine book and reflect on the wine that would go well with it — that gives me a chance to think (And, again, don’t ask my friends or family about my need to learn to think, please! ) and my wine library has grown significantly over the years. Here are some of my favorite book and wine pairings.
Justin Hammack and Madeline Packette have put together a book titled “Wine Folly — The Master Guide.” It won the James Beard Award for its renderings on wine and it contains something for everyone. The book contains enough heavy information for wine experts and gives plenty of easy to understand information for us newbies. There are lots of vivid illustrations from which to learn and it will expand your mind considerably. What wine would I pair with this mind expanding book? How about a Washington state wine called Two Vines Chardonnay? Soft and elegant with nice tastes of melon, green apples and even a hint of vanilla — open the book, pour a glass — read and sip.
Kevin Zraley’s “Complete Wine Course” is a treat and, through its Question and Answer format, you’ll learn so much and be enriched about domestic and imported wines. I especially like the book’s section on the importance of the olfactory system in seeking the understanding of the wine. There are many maps, labels and full color illustrations and I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes your favorite wine book. What wine did I sense as I plowed through the book? A Pinot Noir — it mirrored this wines overall completeness and pleasure. Let’s pour a glass of Line 39 California Pinot Noir, see it in the glass, smell it and then, taste it. It will teach you many things.
A book that helps me stay connected to art is one by Salvador Dali called “Dali — The Wines of Gala.: If you know Dali, you know he can be a bit exotic at times and this book is enticing with the artist’s renderings and its stories of various wines. I enjoyed it and could only think of a Spanish wine as I read it — a Garnacha. Luckily I had a bottle of Vińa Borgia Garnacha. Somehow the wine’s dark cherry taste with a bit of pepper paired nicely with this book — a perfect connection.
Two books on the opposite end of the weight spectrum are: Janice Robinson’s “The Oxford Companion to Wine” and Hugh Johnson’s “Pocket Wine Book.” Robinson’s book is heavy — think about eight pounds and full of expert wine information. It reads like an encyclopedia and is filled with amazing items. The wine for this book has to be a Malbec. Let’s have a glass of Lionel Osman & Cie Malbec. The depth of this wine matches the depth of this book and both are delicious!
On the other hand, Johnson’s book fits into your pocket but is no less dense than Robinson’s book. It’s a classic since 1977 and has a huge number wine reviews and wine regions. I enjoy being alone with this book as I sip a glass of Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages wine. Both are full of possibilities.
The bottom line is to simply find what gives you reading pleasure, find the wine that gives you pleasure and pair the two. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a book and wine tasting club?
As always, eat and drink in moderation but laugh with reckless abandon!