Usually, we associate wine with culture, but this time I’d like to go a bit further, matching wines and books. After all, reading and drinking are two of the ultimate pleasures in life!
Both things, choosing a wine and a book, are highly individual, and I’d like to create a new space in the blog to associate them, according to my personal taste. I hope you’ll find my tips useful for enjoying good books and good wines, what a marvellous pairing!
I know it can sound a bit crazy, but drinking and reading have many things in common: pleasure, relaxation, discovery, culture…
Besides, I am pretty sure that every good book is even more enjoyable with a nice glass of wine!
So let’s go to Burgundy, in central France, together with Violette, the main character of the book Fresh water for flowers. This book, by the French writer Valérie Perrin, was one of the best sellers in 2019 and it thrilled me from the first lines. It is a funny, moving, intimately told story of a woman who believes obstinately in happiness: Violette Toussaint is the caretaker at a cemetery in a small town. Random visitors visit her to warm themselves in her lodge, where laughter, companionship, and occasional tears mix with the coffee that she offers them. Her daily life is lived to the rhythms of their hilarious and touching confidences. Violette’s routine is disrupted one day by the arrival of a man who insists on depositing the ashes of his recently departed mother on the grave of a complete stranger. It soon becomes clear the grave Julien is looking for belongs to his mother’s one-time lover, and that his mother’s story of clandestine love is intertwined with Violette’s own secret past and the grief within it. I loved it! I found it brilliant: a book entirely set in a cemetery, an ironic story with the tragic background of death.
Violette discovers herself little by little, and shows us a dramatic life full of mysteries. She is sweet, she is a dreamer, she is kind, she is a person who still knows how to surprise herself by looking at the beauty of a flower. Reading her story, Violette virtually took me to Burgundy, she made me think about the perfect wine to match this place and her story and I chose a good Chablis Premier Cru.
It is a white wine, born to age, which is rare in white wines, especially as it retains fruity and floral aromas. It is very fragrant, hard but not rough, it has a unique and unmistakable flavour, with aromas of apple and citrus, butter and hazelnut. It is a complex wine, known as ‘the Chardonnay that comes from the cold’, just like Violette, simple, complex and fascinating.
It is a wine produced only in Burgundy from Chardonnay grapes, in the northern part of the region, where the climate and the land are a combination that cannot be replicated elsewhere. It is therefore a unique wine, like this book and its characters.
The Chablis premier cru, which is one of my favourites, is excellent as an aperitif, but it is also perfect with smoked salmon, oysters and pasta with clams. A less obvious combination, but surprisingly good, is with eggs, with delicate soups and with fresh cheese. Also with simple dishes with non-aggressive tastes that would cover the aroma and taste of the wine. It is a ‘romantic’ wine, you will never forget it – just like this book and Violette!
Agnese mentioned “pasta with clams” as a good match for the Chablis premier cru and I totally agree. ‘Pasta e vongole’ (‘vongole’ is the Italian for clams) is a typical Italian first course, very popular along the coast from North to South. HERE is a very easy-to-make recipe – try it and enjoy a little taste of the Mediterranean.
‘Il vino è poesia imbottigliata (wine is poetry in a bottle)’
R.L. BALFOUR STEVENSON