July 2019 Reading & Tasting

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After New York City, Book & Wine Club expanded to Toronto-- our very first expansion. So this month, I'm excited that our Toronto leader, Tina Barbieri, selected July's read. We will be reading We Came Here to Forget by Andrea Dunlop, which releases July 2, 2019. The story follows Katie, a competitive skier, who discovers a terrifying secret about her sister that could ruin her career, friendships and family. She flees to Argentina to start over, creating a new life in the beautiful city of Buenos Aires. This book is the ultimate summer vacation read.


Because much of our book takes place in Argentina, I think it's only fitting that we drink Argentinian whites. While the country is best known for their big reds like Malbec, we're going to focus on white grapes like Torrontés, Chardonnay, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier. Argentinian whites tend to be more floral with hints of spice. The Viognier I selected is slightly spicy, but full of peach and apricot flavors.

June 2019 Reading & Tasting



June is almost here, and this month we’re reading a book everyone’s talking (and posting, and tweeting) about, Normal People by Sally Rooney, a novel about the complex romance between two teenagers, Connell and Marianne. Set during the recession in 2011 in Ireland, the story delves into the differences in class between them, as Connell’s mother is employed as a cleaner for Marianne’s family. It’s a modern day love story, and is 28-year-old Rooney’s second novel.


To pair, I wanted to select a wine that captures the freshness of Connell and Marianne’s relationship. I picked a grape that is often misunderstood and under-appreciated, but once you get it, you’ll crave its sharp acidity and floral aromas: Riesling. It often gets a bad rap because it’s believed to be super sweet, but in fact, most Rieslings are dry and crisp, with notes of citrus and minerality.

May 2019 Reading & Tasting



The month of May was named for the Roman Goddess Maia, who embodied the concept of growth. It also translates to “she who is great.” And aside from the obvious growth and greatness of spring and warmth, May is a good time to think about personal growth, too. In that vein, I selected the newest book from one of my favorite (and greatest) storytellers, Ruth Reichl: Save Me The Plums. The gourmet memoir is about Ruth’s personal journey as the Editor in Chief of Gourmet and how she handles being in charge, making her mark, and following her dreams. A bonus: There are recipes weaved through the book for your added cooking pleasure.


To pair, we will be drinking a refreshing white wine that belongs on every springtime dinner table: Albarin̄o from Spain. In your glass, you’ll find notes of lemon zest, grapefruit, honeydew melon, nectarine, and a slight salinity. The wine is high acid and crisp, and I suggest pairing it with Ruth’s recipe for Spicy Chinese Noodles, found on page 57 of your hardcover book.

April 2019 Reading & Tasting


Unpopular opinion: I believe rosé season is not just for spring and summer, but all year long.

Of course, there are light and crisp, minerally rosé wines that beg for a beach day, but also complex and full-bodied ones that are packed with earthy and rich fruit flavors. Some would argue that much like wearing white after Labor Day, it's unfashionable to drink rosé before the season kicks off in April. I will continue to fight for rosé’s year-long drinkability, but when the warmer days roll in, I get it. I’m with the rose season believers. I fill my glass with pink and raise it in honor of the first weeks of spring.

This month, we’ll be drinking rosé from any region you like-- whether that’s a light Provence selection, a floral Italian variety, or something ripe and juicy from California and beyond.


To pair with our pink wine, we’ll be reading a just-as-devourable pick, Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. A can’t-put-it-down novel about the rise of an iconic ‘70s rock group, their gorgeous lead singer, and the cause behind their dramatic break up. This book is fun, heart-capturing, and addictive-- a bit like the season we’re dipping our toes into.

March 2019 Reading & Tasting

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I'm typically skeptical of celebrities releasing books. Especially when the celebrity hasn't exactly had a resume in book publishing. However, this month, I've selected A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza, and the first book published by Sarah Jessica Parker in her new imprint, SJP for Hogarth, a division of Penguin Randomhouse. I love that SJP chose to spotlight an unknown 26-year-old writer who wrote a beautiful work of literary fiction. The story starts at a wedding in Northern California, Hadia is getting married, and the family is overjoyed (and apprehensive) to find their estranged brother is in attendance. As you can imagine, this is the beginning of a family drama, one that goes back to the beginning of the family's life and all the roles and relationships between its members. 


To pair with this quietly beautiful story, we need some contrast: a bold wine that can be just as beautiful, Zinfandel. When you hear that word, you may immediately think White Zinfandel, the sugary pink (and remarkably cheap) wine made popular in the 1980s. However, Zinfandel is a different animal. It's a black-skinned grape often grown in California, Italy, and Croatia, and typically results in a wine bursting with peppery, lush berry fruit flavor, accented by cocoa and vanilla. It's multi-faceted and layered with spice, much like our book this month. 

February 2019 Reading & Tasting



Happy almost February, Book & Wine Club. This month, we're readingThe Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani, a creepy thriller about Myriam, a lawyer who decides to return to work after having children, and hires the perfect nanny. The story details how the nanny's relationship to the family grows, and how it takes a very dark turn.The Perfect Nanny made several best books of 2018 lists, and won the Goncourt Prize. It's a short, addicting little book for a short month. 


February's wine was curated by someone our group has grown to know well-- Therese Bruno-Cavallaro (pictured above), the woman behind York Cellars in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Therese's pick to pair with The Perfect Nanny? Bloody wines. Not literally, of course, but more than minerally quality you'll find in some red wines, and a few white wines, too. Read my interview with Therese below. 


What's your wine pick for Book & Wine Club this February? 
Ah, February. It's the mid-winter deep freeze, perfect for all-day cooking and nights in. My February pick is "minerally reds." We all know what a minerally white tastes like (bright, crisp, rocky, sometimes 'tingly'), but that mineral quality expresses itself differently in a red. This month's wines align nicely with The Perfect Nanny: a touch of intrigue, and an unusual "sanguine" note (think: iron, iodine, chewable vitamins) beyond the usual trine of fruit, acid, and tannins. 

Why do you love this wine right now? 
I love layered, complex wines - and minerally reds fit the bill. Many of these bottles come from unusual grapes, unsung growing regions - or both. Wines like these upend convention and inspire contemplation since they're a touch different. 

Tell me a little bit about your experience in wine.
I grew up in California, just south of San Francisco. Not too far from wine country! My first job at 15 was a catering gig for Mirassou Winery in Silicon Valley where I overheard the "5 S methodology of wine tastings": see, swirl, smell, sip, savor - and was hooked. Further wine-related travel to less-traveled regions of Italy, a sojourn in Rome, then Montreal, and finally New York helped foster my love and appreciation of old-world wines. After multiple decades in technology marketing, I finally had the opportunity to turn a passion into an occupation in 2017 and open my own wine shop. It's been a challenging and rewarding dream come true ever since!

Speaking of your wine shop, give us all the deets. 
York Cellars is small shop with a big heart in DUMBO, Brooklyn. We opened our doors in September 2017, with a curated selection of uncommon wines from small- to mid-sized producers around the world that skew clean, balanced, and natural. We go out of our way to be knowledgeable, friendly, helpful "everyday somms" - whether that's pairing takeout for busy professionals and parents, or selecting a top-shelf gift. By design, the bulk of the shop is well-priced to let wine be an everyday pleasure. We're super grateful for the warm reception we've received in the neighborhood.

January 2019 Reading & Tasting



Happy New Year Book & Wine Club! Or almost, at least. This month's pick was crowdsourced! I ran a poll on Instagram Stories asking followers to select the book they want to read in January, and The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai is the winner. I'm excited to kick off the year with a powerful novel chronicling the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and its devastating effects, and one of the first books to tell the story over time, from 1985 to present. It is Makkai's third novel, and was selected as one of the New York Times' best books of 2018. 


To celebrate the start of 2019, we will be drinking bubbly, of course. And this time, it's non-Champagne bubbly, meaning there's a lot of options here: from Cava to Cremant, Lambrusco to Franciacorta. I'm currently sipping on the bottle pictured above, Domaine Migot Brut Methode Traditionelle NV, a fresh and creamy sparkler made about 100 kilometers Southwest of Alsace, France. It has a slightly pink tinge, made with 100 percent Gamay grapes, with notes of yellow apple and currant. 

December 2018 Reading & Tasting



December is a month when think about new beginnings, fresh starts, and resolutions for the new year. The premise for Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty seemed like the perfect match for this time: nine people who gather at a remote health resort looking for a reboot on life. Each endures a difficult ten days in hopes of leaving a better person, but does the answer to change really lie in a luxurious retreat? Also notable: Liane Moriarty is also the author behind Big Little Lies.


Along with looking forward, the end of the year is a time to reflect and look back as well. So this month, I went with one of the most prominent wine regions in history, one that is a pillar and model for winemaking: Bordeaux. It's the largest producing wine region in France, with organized viticulture dating back to the 6th century BC. The most common grape varieties for the region are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot for reds, and Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle for white. I'm drinking a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc; it's super earthy, with a little bit of spice and berry fruit. Show us what you're drinking and tag @bookwineclub.

November 2018 Reading & Tasting



November, hey. You made it. The month of food, family, and a fury of Black Friday shopping. I found a book that represents at least two of those, JELL-O GIRLS by Allie Rowbottom, a memoir from the great-great-great-granddaughter of the man who bought the patent for Jell-O in 1899.  The story documents the extreme privilege of her family, as well as the alcoholism, suicides, and mysterious ailments they endured. Rowbottom explores her family's trauma, as well as in the every day American. I selected this memoir for the timely themes, but also because it sounds wild


To pair with our book, we will be drinking one of the most widely planted grapes in the world, but one I love for its ability to take on many forms,Grenache. It's a late ripening grape, so it usually grows in hot and dry conditions like Spain, but can also be found in France, Italy, the United States, and Australia. Typically, you can pick up notes of Grenache for its strawberry-black cherry-raspberry Fruit Roll Up notes, with hints of cinnamon and tobacco. However, when blended with other grapes, you may taste something completely different. The one I'm drinking is French, and blended with Syrah, Carignan, and Cinsault, and tastes more like licorice and spices and than strawberries. 

October 2018 Reading & Tasting

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October is only a couple days away, a month that lends itself to thrillers, mysteries, and something a little darker. I selected Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton, a suspenseful tale of obsession, following the entwined lives of two women living in New York City. Louise is a failed writer who works three jobs in order to survive, while Lavinia is a wealthy socialite who introduced Louise to a more lavish lifestyle.  Burton is Vox's religion correspondent, so you can expect the story to feel very current, as she touches on cultural and economic themes of living in New York and modern day technology. 


NYC Book & Wine Club Member Katie Richey, a yoga teacher, bangin' home book and the resident lady wine nerd at Kings County Wines in Brooklyn, picked this month's wine. For the first full month of fall, Katie chose Dolcetto, a lesser-known Italian grape found in Piedmont. 

"Often in the shadow behind more well-known Piedmont grapes (I'm looking at you, Barolo, Barbera, Nebbiolo), Dolcetto is harvested, bottled, and sold early so winemakers can make money while their other wines age. It's a benchwarmer grape. But this month, we're putting it in the game!" she said. 

Katie's selection is spot-on for the season. She notes that in places like Dogliani, Dolcetto shines as a silky, red fruity, softly tannic wine that drinks the way your sweater feels. 

"When October arrives and all you want is to read on the couch in your soft pants, Dolcetto is your yet to be your new best friend," said Katie. 

September 2018 Reading & Tasting



September is all about transition: it's the end of summer and the beginning of fall, the air changes, and it feels like a little bit of a fresh start. That's why I went with a fresh new author, Crystal Hana Kim. "If You Leave Me" is her first novel, and an emotional one. It takes place on the Korean peninsula in times of war, following Haemi, who is forced into marriage at just 16 years old, while caring for her ailing brother. Aside from the dramatic premise, I like that this novel plays with the concept of choices, (or lack of) and how circumstances can instantly change our paths. 


We're about to get a little free form here with the wine pick so bear with me. In the same vein of freshness, this month, we're focusing on wines that are refreshing. Of course, that is different to everyone-- perhaps it's what you like to drink on a warm day, or a wine that leaves you feeling invigorated. I love this Geschickt 2014 Vin d'Alsace Grand Cru Kaefferkopf, it's dry and balanced and tastes like freshly picked peach with a crisp minerality. At our next meeting, bring the wine that is most refreshing to you, or share it with us on social:@bookwineclub.  

August 2018 Reading & Tasting



This August, we're focusing on one grape: Gewurztraminer, an aromatic variety used in white wines that typically grows in cooler climates. You'll be able to pick out the grape in a glass by its lychee aroma, which can come across as a sweeter wine, but that's not always the case. Gewurztraminer is usually found in bottles from France (specifically Alsace), Germany, or Austria, but is grown here in the United States and Canada, too. I chose one from Alsace, with an aroma of a bouquet of roses and honey, and a rich, velvety texture. 

To pair with the wine, I thought we needed something seemingly sweet, but surprisingly rich and full-bodied. The Gunners, by Rebecca Kauffmancenters around Mikey Callahan, who is suffering from macular degeneration at thirty-three years old. He reconnects with a group of childhood friends, after one friend of the group had committed suicide. The event pivots Mikey into confronting the darkness of his past. The Gunners is character-driven, with themes of friendship, truth, and forgiveness. 

June 2018 Reading & Tasting



I've only heard good things about The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. The scene is New York City in 1969, and a mythical, training psychic woman claims she can tell anyone the day they will die. Four adolescents decide to learn their fate, and the story follows each of them, showing how this affects their life paths. What would you do if you knew the exact date of your death? Would it change your decisions? We'll discuss more at the end of June. 


Pétillant Naturel, or Pét-Nat for short, is a spritzy wine that is bottled before fully completing its first fermentation, which lets carbon dioxide form from the natural sugars found in the grapes. The method started in 16th century France, a form used by monks. You may notice a bit of sediment in your bottle-- that's the yeast that was not removed during the winemaking process. It's good, I swear! The wine is slightly bubbly, sometimes a little sweet, but definitely a more rustic, funky taste. 

May 2018 Reading & Tasting



I was drawn to The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer not only for the in-your-face rainbow cover with bold type, but also for its timeliness to current events, and its abundance of rave reviews. The novel centers around a shy college freshman who meets a prominent figure in the women's movement, changing her future and life path forever. The Female Persuasion explores female mentorship and the relationship between a mentor and a mentee, a topic I think is underrepresented in literature. 


Rosé is almost a cliché at this point. In an Instagram culture of #roseallday, and Insta-famous celebrities like @thefatjewish creating their own bottles of aptly named White Girl Rosé, I admit, I roll my eyes a little bit at the pink wine. But truthfully, this kind-of-spring time of year makes me crave it. It tastes what a sunny day on a picnic blanket in Prospect Park should.
And while I typically look for a crisp Provence variety, this month we're drinking California rosé, like this one from Rootdown, a name referring to the influence of the soil on the wine, particularly in organic winemaking. This bottle has notes of strawberry and cracked pepper on the nose with a tangy peach pit, plum peel flavor. And don't judge the wine by its shade, you "I only drink rosés that are millennial pink/almost white/almost orange" this one isn't syrupy sweet-- give it a shot. 

April 2018 Reading & Tasting

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Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover had a unique and challenging upbringing. She didn't set foot in a school until she has 17, and due to her parents distrust in the medical establishment, she never saw doctors or nurses, only being treated with herbalism. Educated is Tara's memoir detailing her struggle to learn and invent herself, despite her isolated family. 


Meet Amanda Schuster, a native New Yorker and a friend of mine who is the best let's-share-a-bottle buddy. She has a certification from the American Sommelier Association, and recently wrote a book, New York Cocktails. She curated our April pick: Aglianico, a red from Southern Italy. 

"Since this is a memoir about a late education, I say get really weird and funky with the wines!" Amanda said. "This is a wine from a very volcanic region in Basilicata that tends to have a kind of robust, leathery (in a good way) taste with hints of cherries and orange zest. When people ask me to pick a wine that really tastes like something, I tell them to buy this." 


March 2018 Reading & Tasting



I keep seeing An American Marriage by Tayari Jones ev.uh.ry.where! The book centers on a Southern couple living a happy and successful life, until the two are ripped apart by an unexpected arrest, and Celeste, the wife, has to cope with living on her own. Oprah also included this book in her book club picks, so it comes very highly rated. 


After drinking some very specific wine regions the last few months, let's simplify a bit, with American wine. Any American wine, from Washington State to Long Island. In fact, I'm currently drinking the wine pictured above from a fantastic Long Island wine-- Channing Daughters Winery. I definitely suggest taking a trip out to visit their tasting room when the weather warms up!  

February 2018 Reading & Tasting



The power of women's voices has emerged in various forms recently: in the workplace, entertainment, and of course, politics. While women's voices have always been a key pillar of Book & Wine Club (through our writers, guest curators, and members), when selecting February's read, I wanted to choose something that is not only written by a woman, but is deeply entrenched in the timely topic of women and power. I selected Naomi Alderman's The Power


I've recently become a fan of Josie Zeigler's Instagram @sipculture, where Josie serves up insightful, non-pretentious, and fun wine recommendations. Josie was kind enough to select this month's wine pairing for our group. She picked the wine region of Ribeira Sacra in Galicia, Spain. "The wines are earth-driven, but easy drinking, typically good crowd-pleasers. Bonus points if you can find a bottle from a female wine-maker!" she said. 

January 2018 Reading & Tasting



We're kicking off 2018 with a pick from a member of our group, Cathy Spinley. She selected My Name is Lucy Barton, by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Strout. Under the unfortunate circumstances of a medical operation, Lucy Barton is reunited with her mother, whom she hasn't seen in years. The meeting unearths the tension in Lucy's life, from her troubled family to her ambitions and marriage. 


The book is rich with emotion and character depth, so I selected a region with a breadth of great wines-- Sicily. Some of those selections include Nero D'Avola, Primitivo, Nerello, Marsala, and Perricone, but right now I'm loving this bottle of Anatema, a playful and spicy wine grown 700 miles above sea level. 

December 2017 Reading & Tasting



We're finishing off the year with something delicious, Sourdough by Robin Sloan. The novel tells the story of Lois Clary, a software engineer turned baker, and the clash of new and old technologies in the food industry. It's thoughtful and fun, a little weird, but also charming. This is the second book written by Sloan, the first was a bestseller called Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore


This month wine was selected by Jenny Dorsey, a professional chef and sommelier-in-training based in NYC. She runs a popular popup series named Wednesdays and just started a not-for-profit culinary production studio to create dining events fused with augmented and virtual reality. You can findmore of her work (and foodporn) here.

Jenny's wine pick: Txakoli

What is it? Txakoli is a very lightly sparkling but dry, white wine popular in Spain (particularly in the Basque County, so you'll see it everywhere in San Sebastian!). It's very fresh, sometimes a tint green, and usually served as an aperitif. If you're familiar with Portuguese Vinho Verde, you'll find txakoli to be its more structured, more mineral-y cousin. 

Why it's awesome: Txakoli is a great way to start off any meal, but I find it especially lovely when gearing up to eat a big, richly flavored meal. Its salinity sets up your appetite (a good reason for its popularity at pintxo joints!) and its acidity cuts through hearty, intense foods like anchovies or charcuterie or anything fried.

Ideal pairings: Seafood is the classic pairing in Basque County, where you can find a plethora of tasty dishes like tuna in oil, sardines, shrimp skewers on bread, anchovies with olives. But the brightness of txakoli makes it a great contender for meat and cheese plates, fried finger foods like croquettes and calamari, or even heartier main courses like tomato-based tripe stew (a San Sebastian favorite of mine). 

Jenny' s note: There are many types of txakoli to try, so since they are relatively low-alcohol you can buy a few extra bottles! They should be drunk young (no aging!) and if you're feeling froggy you can pour it the traditional way: hold the bottle a few feet in the air and pour straight into the glass tumbler to help it aerate and fizz.