Writing By: Jacob Tegtman
If you’ve ever taken special care to pair the right foods and wines, you know just how wonderful of an experience it can be. The right wines bring out subtle flavors in foods, and vice versa, leading to sensations you could never enjoy without the combination. It’s almost unthinkable to create any kind of formalized gathering without taking both into consideration. However, formal occasions don’t necessarily come around all that often, as fun as they can be. So, here’s a fun thought for you: have you ever considered pairing books and wines, for a treat-yourself kind of day, or evening?
It might be a touch of a novel concept (pun intended). But there are certainly new experiences to explore whenever you combine two of anything great in life. And it just so happens that as wines and food complement each other well, so too do books and wine bring out hidden parts of one other.
Wines that Match a Book’s Setting, Genre, or Mood
One simple way to pair wines with a book is to first consider your book’s setting. If the story takes place in a real-life location, you might have an easy time pairing. Think Italy or New York. Simply find a bottle of wine from the book’s location, and sip on it while engaged in the story. That a little taste of the story’s locale may further immerse you into what’s happening. The book’s characters may seem a little closer, and their feelings may stand out a bit more.
Similarly, you might think about matching wine with the book’s genre, or overall mood/ tone. If you’re reading a book like Game of Thrones, based in medieval times, you can always try brewing a glass of mulled wine to go along with the book’s time period. Or, perhaps mead (honey wine) since it has been a common drink since practically the dawn of civilization – and is, in fact, now making a comeback in modern times.
If you’re reading a mystery novel or book with a darker tone, a dark red, dry wine can add a little edge to your reading. Whereas you may discover that books based on lighter topics pair well with fruit or flowery wines.
Wines and Reading for Time of Year or Occasion
You can literally match your pairing to the time of year – in which you’re reading – or the time of year in the book’s story. If you’re planning on making time of year the central theme of your book and wine pairing, it might be best to select a book that matches the time of year in which you’re reading. The congruity of having the book’s themes match your environment can lead to an added step of immersion.
From there, it’s simply a choice of wine to fit the occasion. Many people enjoy fruit wines during summer months, as the taste is often light, smooth, and refreshing. Such wines are also great in the spring, as everything is in bloom. Red wines, of course, go year-round, but can be comforting in colder months. Or, they make very good bases for added spices as mulled wines, which are served slightly steaming. If the occasion is formal in the story, or in life, perhaps it calls for a pinot noir, or cabernet sauvignon. Is there something in the air to celebrate at the time of year you’re reading, or in the book? Pour champagne, or a dessert wine.
Reading Environment and Purpose
Another way to choose your wine, and perhaps book as well, is to pair them with your reading environment. What is your favorite reading spot? Do you read at night in your favorite chair, beneath a low-lit lamp? It of course calls for a different style of wine than if you prefer to read beside a bay window during full sunlight hours. Do you have time to ponder and process your book while alone, or do you fit in your reading in between parenting, or while kids are all around? Try to match your wine choices with the energy of your environment, and of your book.
It also matters for what purpose you turn to reading. If it’s a cozy escape for you, then your book and wine selection should certainly differ than if you’re instead seeking an adventure. Experiment pairing a bold, brazen wine with a rousing drama. Match a softer mead with an exploration on philosophy. Or pair something warm and enriching with a cozy night in.
Jacob Tegtman enjoys wines with friends, and the occasional glass of mead. He spends the majority of his free time reading books on philosophy, meditating, and staying active.