Nearly two years into the pandemic, I’ve found myself not only reading more but also drinking more wine. Food and drink can set the tone for an experience, just as it can complement your dinner. As Ooligan strives to promote the experiences of the Pacific Northwest, I’ve chosen five wines from the area and paired them with favorite books from my collection.
J. Bookwalter Notebook 15NV Red Blend from Columbia Valley, WA and The Hermaphrodite by Julia Ward Howe
This red blend is more complex than most, with a fruity impact. The wine is made of four different types of grapes, and it has a light, sweet plum note. I chose to pair this wine with Julia Ward Howe’s The Hermaphrodite. The wine is much more complex than one might perceive, just as the main character, Laurence, is much more complex than their appearance lets on. The novel follows Laurence as they grow up and experience life as an intersex individual. This fruity yet complex wine reminded me of the complexity of Laurence’s character throughout the novel, morphing from one taste to the next.
Charles Smith Wines Boom Boom! Syrah from Columbia Valley, WA and Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell
This syrah is a classic in my house. It’s spicy and earthy with a cleanness to it that I don’t find in other syrahs I’ve tasted, which are all spice and smoke. This reminds me of a brisk, smoky mountain evening, which is the perfect environment to read Song of the Sparrow. The novel is written in lyric, giving the page a serene cleanliness. Add King Arthur and romance to the list, and you’ve got yourself a spicy yet fantastically innocent romance. Wine, fantasy, and romance—need I say more?
Corvidae Wise Guy Sauvignon Blanc from Columbia Valley, WA and Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey
I’ll start this by saying that I am not a white wine drinker, but I felt obligated to include at least one pairing. This is glorified grape juice, but not in a bad way. It meets the expectations I have of what a white wine should taste like: it’s crisp, clean, and has notes of green apple. Topics of Conversation is a collection of conversations between different women about their life experiences. The combination of the wine and this book makes me think of those stereotypical “girls’ nights” that consist of gossip and white wine. To me, it’s better to spill the salacious details of your life than to spill your wine, but to each their own.
Columbia Winery Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Columbia Valley, WA and Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
This unoriginally titled red wine is from one of my favorite wineries. This is the deepest wine on the list, but it has this tartness to it that’s like dark berries. I chose a more recent fantasy for this wine. Ninth House compares to Harry Potter, without the overarching series (yet). The novel follows the dealings of a secret society at Yale who frequently perform summonings involving unwilling participants. The dark narrative matches the deep richness of this cabernet; it should be read on a cold winter night because you’ll be sucked in until morning.
Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir from Salem, Willamette Valley, OR and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I’m biased. This is my favorite wine when I’m feeling fancy, and it just so happens to be made only ten minutes from where I grew up. This pinot is unique in that it’s made with ripe grapes at the end of the season, and the whole cluster is used rather than only the picked grapes. Additionally, it’s the only red wine the vineyard recommends to be served chilled. Evelyn Hugo, a 1950s Hollywood actress, begs to be seen for her true, whole self throughout the novel, and it takes the most unexpected turn, much like a chilled red wine.
These wines inspired me to think about books in my collection that I haven’t given much thought to in months, if not years. The PNW is full of inspiration if one takes the time to slow down and romanticize their life in it. If you’re feeling romantic but can’t make it to those golden hills of a PNW vineyard, grab one of these books with their complimentary bottle and enjoy.