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Pairing Wines with Genres

Elizabeth Bastos

Staff Writer

Elizabeth Bastos has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe, and writes at her blog 19th-Century Lady Naturalist. Follow her on Twitter: @elizabethbastos

Readers who came of age in the 80s are sure to remember the lyric from the Beastie Boys song The Blue Nun, “What’s the secret, Peter? Naturally I’ll say it’s the wine. Mmmm, it does go well with the chicken.”

My question, being a newbie wine drinker but a longtime reader is: What goes with what I’m reading? What to tipple when reading space sci-fi? Hobbity fantasy? A flight of British mysteries? So here goes:

Riesling goes with the bildungsroman like hand in glove. Open a Kabinett and a classic coming-of-age story like Hesse’s Siddhartha, Winterson’s Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, and of course Jane Eyre.

Chablis? Renowned for “chalk” and “going with oysters.” I think it goes best with sci-fi. Maybe it’s the color of space suits in a future I’d like to inhabit? Quaff it while reading Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game or the Sonmi sections of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas.

Champagne. Humor. Terry Theise, wine importer and author of Reading Between The Wines, says, “Champagne doesn’t require an occasion. Champagne is the occasion.” True too of laughter. How lovely for a glass of bubbly while reading Patricia Marx, David Sedaris, and Dorothy Parker who said, “Three be the things I shall never attain: envy, content, and sufficient Champagne.”

Spanish reds (note the plural) from a leather wine bag. Hemingway. Duh.

Rosé. Magical Realism. House Of The Spirits, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and Like Water for Chocolate , anything with “the scent of bitter almond” (any Marquez fans out there?).

Burgundy. The Wall Street Journal‘s wine writer and Bright Lights, Big City author Jay McInerney writes, “There are few surprises in Bordeaux. Burgundy on the other hand, engages the emotions more than the intellect–a wine for the lunatic, the lover, and the poet.” In honor of him, I read it while drinking poetry.


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