Unexpected Wine and Food Match in James Salter’s Novel “Light Years”

Sometimes when you least expect it, expect it. That’s how wine sneaks up on me. Not like a bottle quietly tiptoeing behind me and then, “SURPRISE!” More of a coming across mentions of it while reading and thinking about the author’s experience with wine. Such is the case of the novel Light Years by James Salter.

Here’s a scene where the main characters, a married couple named Nedra and Viri, are prepping for dinner guests:

“Give them plenty to drink,” she said. “Do you want to taste something?”

It was the pâté maison. “Oh!” he moaned.

“What?”

“It’s brilliant!

“Try it with mustard,” she said.

They were having Meursault, fromages, pastries from Leonard’s.

Usually with a luxury like pâté, red wine (particularly Burgundy) gets the nod. But a white wine from Burgundy, like the rich Chardonnays of Meursault, can be a great pairing as well. It’s a wine with enough stuffing and substance to handle the power of pâté. And with a judicious swipe of mustard, a chilled white wine sounds even better.

What Salter’s passage reminded me of is that so many “red wine” foods are actually great with white wine. Steak? You bet. Pizza? Hell yes.

But Salter’s not a one-wine pony. Dang, I’m only halfway through this book and there’s already mentions of Margaux and ruminations on Retsina (!).

Here are a couple of other posts about books with wine moments that got me thinking:

Considering Champagne in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises

The Novel “New York 2140” and Wine

Have you read a book where a scene with wine made an impression on you, like Light Years by James Salter did for me? Let me know in the comments.

The post Unexpected Wine and Food Match in James Salter’s Novel “Light Years” appeared first on Jameson Fink.

New York 2140, The Smell of Buildings, and Wine Tasting Notes

I’m in the middle of reading New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson, which I bought at the excellent bookstore, WORD, in my neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

The plot?

As the sea levels rose, every street became a canal. Every skyscraper an island. For the residents of one apartment building in Madison Square, however, New York in the year 2140 is far from a drowned city.

There is the market trader, who finds opportunities where others find trouble. There is the detective, whose work will never disappear – along with the lawyers, of course.

There is the internet star, beloved by millions for her airship adventures, and the building’s manager, quietly respected for his attention to detail. Then there are two boys who don’t live there, but have no other home – and who are more important to its future than anyone might imagine.

Lastly there are the coders, temporary residents on the roof, whose disappearance triggers a sequence of events that threatens the existence of all – and even the long-hidden foundations on which the city rests.

It’s kind of weird to be toting a book on the subway with a cover depicting the city underwater. But it’s a really intriguing book of how people survive and adapt, at every economic level.

Wine in New York 2140

As someone who’s read more wine tasting notes than he cares to mention, one passage really struck me with its similar construction to reviews of fermented grape juice. It’s from a scene where one of the main characters is investigating a recently collapsed building in a neighborhood partially submerged. His description:

As we got closer to the crash site, the ordinary ammoniac reek of a tidal flat was joined by another smell, maybe creosote, with notes of asbestos, cracked wood, smashed brick, crumbled concrete, twisted rusty steel, and the stale air of moldy rooms broken open to the day like rotten eggs.

Makes me think that Robinson is definitely a wine drinker. A few pages later, this passage:

He would learn to avoid the red wine if he stayed here more than a couple of days, but only by experiencing it’s mouth-puckering tannins directly, so I nodded and walked over to fill his glass, and refill mine with the vinho verde. 

My kind of wine drinker. Eschews tannic beasts and prefers fizzy, light white wines.

It’s always fascinating to come across passages about, or reminiscent of, wine in fiction that are trenchant and unexpected. For more of this, see my thoughts on Champagne in The Sun Also Rises.

The post New York 2140, The Smell of Buildings, and Wine Tasting Notes appeared first on Jameson Fink.

The Novel “New York 2140” and Wine

I’m in the middle of reading New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson, which I bought at the excellent bookstore, WORD, in my neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

The plot?

As the sea levels rose, every street became a canal. Every skyscraper an island. For the residents of one apartment building in Madison Square, however, New York in the year 2140 is far from a drowned city.

There is the market trader, who finds opportunities where others find trouble. There is the detective, whose work will never disappear – along with the lawyers, of course.

There is the internet star, beloved by millions for her airship adventures, and the building’s manager, quietly respected for his attention to detail. Then there are two boys who don’t live there, but have no other home – and who are more important to its future than anyone might imagine.

Lastly there are the coders, temporary residents on the roof, whose disappearance triggers a sequence of events that threatens the existence of all – and even the long-hidden foundations on which the city rests.

It’s kind of weird to be toting a book on the subway with a cover depicting the city underwater. But it’s a really intriguing book of how people survive and adapt, at every economic level.

Wine in New York 2140

As someone who’s read more tasting notes than he cares to mention, one passage really struck me with having a similar cadence to a wine review. It’s from a scene where one of the main characters is investigating a recently collapsed building in a neighborhood partially submerged. His description:

As we got closer to the crash site, the ordinary ammoniac reek of a tidal flat was joined by another smell, maybe creosote, with notes of asbestos, cracked wood, smashed brick, crumbled concrete, twisted rusty steel, and the stale air of moldy rooms broken open to the day like rotten eggs.

Makes me think Robinson is definitely a wine drinker. A few pages later, this passage:

He would learn to avoid the red wine if he stayed here more than a couple of days, but only by experiencing it’s mouth-puckering tannins directly, so I nodded and walked over to fill his glass, and refill mine with the vinho verde. 

My kind of wine drinker. Eschews tannic beasts and prefers fizzy, light white wines.

It’s always fascinating to come across passages about, or reminiscent of, wine in fiction that are trenchant and unexpected. For more of this, see my thoughts on Champagne in The Sun Also Rises.

The post The Novel “New York 2140” and Wine appeared first on Jameson Fink.