Summer Drinks and Reads

By / Magazine / July 16th, 2010 / Like

Looking for a creative and original wine and beer pairing this summer? Why not pair up a great book with a great drink? Relax outside by the pool or under a big shade tree all summer and catch up on the latest releases. The Wine Council of Ontario and Ontario Craft Brewers have done just that. They’ve custom-matched their products with some of Ontario’s finest books just in time for summer reading.

“Wine, like literature, is a cultural experience,” says Ed Madronich, Chair of the Wine Council of Ontario and proprietor of Flat Rock Cellars. “Winemakers and authors honour us with their artistic expressions for our personal interpretation and enjoyment”. Madronich, who paired a wine with Cordelia Strube’s Lemon, said, “It was very inspiring to suggest a wine pairing in this truly unique way. It’s exciting to think that book clubs might be inspired to include wine pairings in their discussions”.

Pairing wine to literature works along the same lines as pairing wine to food. Think about the dominant themes in the text. Is the book a light read? Does it elicit deep thought on a controversial issue? Is it an account of a character’s personal and difficult journey to self-knowledge?

Here’s the latest list that pairs Ontario authors and Ontario wine. Find out how to start your own book cluband start matching your own books and drinks. Make sure you pick up a copy of Tidings Magazine (July/August 2010). Gurvinder Bhatia’s “Drinking It In” describes a whole lot more book and drink matches.



Ryad Assani-Razaki, Deux cercles (VLB éditeur)

This first collection by Ryad Assani-Razaki, a young writer who shows surprising maturity, deals with discrimination and exclusion. Each short story in Deux cercles is about a point in an individual’s life where the person has to face the difficulties and frustrations of immigration.

Wellington Brewery — Trailhead Lager
The hints of toasted malt this light, golden lager serve is an oasis of taste in the face of difficulties and frustration. Nothing complex, just simple pleasure.

The Good Earth Riesling
Canadian Immigrants face many challenges, as Ryad Assani-Razaki alludes to in his book Deux cercles. Riesling, also an immigrant to Canada, has faced its own challenges, such as cold Canadian Winters, new pests and pathogens and the everchanging tastes of the Canadian wine consumer. The Good Earth Riesling, with its complexity and great depth of flavour, is a fine example of not only the Riesling grape, but also of what is possible when immigrants can overcome their challenges.

Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood (McClelland & Stewart)

This long-awaited novel from Margaret Atwood is a brilliant visionary imagining of the future that calls to mind her classic novel The Handmaid’s Tale. A natural disaster has occurred obliterating most human life and altering Earth as we know it. Two women, Ren and Toby, have been spared and their stories unfold in this novel which brilliantly reflects to us a world we recognize but poignantly reminds us of our enduring humanity.

Great Lakes Brewery — Devil’s Pale Ale 666
A dark, smooth and thoughtful brew of six malts, six hops and six percent alcohol. This creates a rich but nicely balanced brew with a witty edge.

Kacaba Vineyards 2009 Rebecca Rose
Kacaba Vineyards 2009 Rebecca Rose, available at the winery only, is a limited yearly edition, using the traditional method of rose production. It is a sipping wine, very suitable while reading an intense book like Atwood’s, but we caution the reader, because it goes down quite easily.

Ian Brown, The Boy in the Moon (Random House Canada)

Walker Brown was born with a genetic mutation so rare that doctors call it an orphan syndrome: perhaps 300 people around the world also live with it. Walker turns twelve in 2008, but he weighs only 54 pounds, is still in diapers, can’t speak and needs to wear special cuffs on his arms so that he can’t continually hit himself. Told with tenderness and stark honesty, Ian Brown infuses his book with love for his amazing son, for his family and for life.

Scotch Irish Brewing Company — Sergeant Major India Pale Ale
First impressions can be deceiving. If you allow yourself to take the journey, this fine ale will surprise you with its depths and heights.

13th Street Winery Gamay Noir 2008
An ideal wine to sip and contemplate as you turn the pages of The Boy in The Moon. Like the novel, the wine intrigues with its complexity and nuance. Like the story, the importance of family, loyalty, hope and spirit is central to the production of this Gamay.

Nicole V. Champeau, Pointe Maligne. L’infiniment oubliée (Les Éditions du Vermillon)

Pointe Maligne. L’infiniment oubliée is about the Ontario section of the St. Lawrence River, from Lac Saint-François up toward Cornwall (Pointe Maligne) and on to the Thousand Islands. The author invites us to follow her in a journey that creates a poetry of history out of the writings, maps, and personalities of those who lived and traveled in the area in centuries past. The book revives the memory of places that disappeared with the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway and the flooding of the Long Sault Rapids.

Black Oak Brewery — Nut Brown Ale
Caramel and chocolate malts combine with bold hops to create a traditional brew that honours the history and richness of the past.

Trumpour’s Mill 2009 Rosé
A perfect wine for sitting and sipping in the afternoon; a perfect pairing with story-telling and remembering. It is also a wine that tells a great deal about the place where it comes from; with rich mineral notes and bright varietal characteristics. Sit in the sun this summer and enjoy Pointe Maligne. L’infiniment oubliée and a cool glass of Rosé.

Jean Mohsen Fahmy, Frères ennemis (VLB éditeur)

In Europe in 1914, World War I united the French around patriotism. But in this country, it divided French-Canadians, torn between the desire to sign up to stand beside their “cousins” and the refusal to march under the banner of the British Empire. This Conscription Crisis, a key period in the history of Quebec, is embodied by two twin brothers, who are identical in every way yet choose different paths. One enrols and leaves home to fight in Flanders, while the other stays to defend the rights of the French-Canadian “race” against the English.

Barley Days Brewery — Wind and Sail Dark Ale
The smoothness of the malts are countered with the bitterness of the hops and the dark colour darkness highlights the different paths of the brothers. Tumultuous seas are stirred by the forces of historic times.

Chateau des Charmes’ Gamay Noir ‘Droit’
Jean Mohsen Fahmy’s tale of choices and their outcomes is remisniscent of the divergent path Paul Bosc took when founding Chateau des Charmes. Paul’s vanguard ways continue to this day particularly in viticultural research. His discovery of Canada’s first vinifera vine was a defining moment in our then fledgling industry. Our Gamay Noir ‘Droit’ is unoaked yet complex & versatile with a layer of spice.

Alexandra Leggat, Animal (Anvil Press)

In a style reminiscent of Raymond Carver, the stories contained in Animal depict people on the brink of major life change. They stand at crossroads they are often oblivious to; they suck thick air in rooms filled with palpable tension. It matters little whether the characters take action or refuse to act; life acts for them. The reader is left to wonder: When does “meaning” cease to have meaning? Like travelling a mountain highway at night, what’s just around the next bend is never known. The stories in Animal never fail to deliver potent surprises.

Nickel Brook Beers — Maple Porter
As you teeter on the edge, this beer will draw you in with smooth roasted malts and surprise you with a hint of smoke from the maple.

Reif Estate’s Cabernet Merlot
The stories in Animal never fail to deliver potent surprises. The intertwining flavours of blackberry, black cherry and raspberry with leather and earthy spice notes will be a perfect partner for a literary journey where what’s just around the next bend is never known.

Anne Michaels, The Winter Vault (McClelland & Stewart)

Anne Michaels’s first work of fiction in more than a decade, The Winter Vault is a stunning, richly layered, and timeless novel that is everything we could hope for – and more. Set in Canada and Egypt and with flashbacks to England and Poland after the war, it is a spellbinding love story that juxtaposes momentous historical events with the most intimate moments of individual lives.

Trafalgar Brewing Company — Elora Grand Lager
With the backdrop of profound loss and a tender love story, this lager gently rests. An interesting dry hopping adds a gentle strength of character to balance the emotions.

Southbrook Vineyard’s Triomphe Chardonnay
This wine is stunning and richly layered offering everything we could hope for – and more, in a cool climate Chardonnay.

Alice Munro, Too Much Happiness

A new collection of ten short stories from a beloved and internationally acclaimed author. While some of the stories are traditional, set in “Alice Munro Country” in Ontario or in B.C., dealing with ordinary women’s lives, others have a new, sharper edge. They involve child murders, strange sex, and a terrifying home invasion. By way of astonishing variety, the title story, set in Victorian Europe, follows the last journey from France to Sweden of a famous Russian mathematician.

Muskoka Cottage Brewery — Hefe-Weissbeer
Full of surprises, this beer is cloudy (compared to the author’s famed clarity) but refreshing. Hints of banana and clove and a soothing richness, while the wheat adds a smoothness and a slightly tart finish.

Pillitteri Estates Winery’s Gewurztraminer Riesling Fusion
Alice Munro’s Too Much Happiness and Pillitteri Estates Winery’s Gewurztraminer Riesling Fusion are sure to satisfy. A great wine to sip as you ponder Munro’s ironic tales. Our Gewurztraminer Riesling is a fusion blend that will ease the complexities of life.

Daniel Poliquin, René Lévesque (Les Éditions du Boréal)

The Franco-Ontarian novelist and essayist Daniel Poliquin has always been a keen observer of Quebec politics. Poliquin portrays an extraordinarily likeable René Lévesque, bringing out his deep human and moral qualities as few books have done. As always with Poliquin, the writer’s passion for history – small-h or capital-H – and his talent for the juicy anecdote make this René Lévesque an unforgettable read.

King Brewery — King Pilsner
A pilsner can be extraordinarily likeable with the hop providing a mischievous note with its herbal character up front and hint of bitter on the finish. A very memorable beer that has left its mark on history.

Sprucewood Shores Deux Rouge
An Ontario wine produced with a French name, irony is a favorite tool of the writer. René Lévesque was a man not afraid to state his beliefs, nor is Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery. The blending of Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc has resulted in a politically savvy wine – one sure to please the palate of many. Soft tannins, low acid, with a pleasant berry flavour throughout. This wine is available at the winery or by shipment to your door.

Emily Schultz, Heaven is Small (House of Anansi Press)

Heaven is Small is the funny and profound story of Gordon Small, a degree-clutching slacker and failed fiction writer. Gordon is also, we discover in the first paragraph, recently deceased—“an event he failed to notice.” But when Gordon finds himself suddenly employed at the Heaven Book Company, the world’s largest romance publisher, he does notice that things are odd. With sly deadpan humour, brilliant insight into the human condition, and exceptionally beautiful writing, Schultz explores what it’s like to be truly alive only after you’re dead.

Railway City Brewing Company — Dead Elephant Ale
Don’t let the grim reaper scare you; the humorous title refers respectfully to the loss of the legendary circus elephant, Jumbo. As with this book, it proves you can be truly alive after you are dead.

Cave Spring Cellar’s Riesling
Riesling is one of the most invigorating wines. The play between acidity and fruit makes it a perfect companion to things beyond food. It has a knack for refreshing the mind always enticing you to want more. A wine you cannot put down, just like a great book.

Daniel Soha, La Maison : une parabole (Éditions du GREF)

A man wakes up one day in a house that he does not know and cannot get out of, with no memory of his own past. Other people are in the house, in the same situation. Gradually, as a struggle for power emerges, the protagonist falls prey to increasingly apocalyptic visions. Is this reality or a dream, and if the latter, did something induce it?

Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery — Hoptical Illusion
Is this beer reality or a dream? Abundant hop added throughout the brewing process have added aromas, flavours and bitterness rarely found in beer. Think freshly mowed grass.

Angels Gate Winery’s Angels III
Daniel Soha, La Maison: une parabole paired with 2006 Angels III. The struggle depicted in this book calls for a complex blended wine. Our Angels III is designed as an aging wine that requires time for the multiple and unique varietals to come into harmony. Just like the power struggle in this book the varietals struggle for dominance in this blend.

Cordelia Strube, Lemon (Coach House Books)

Lemon has three mothers and one deadbeat dad. High school is a misery, a trial run for an unhappy adulthood of bloated waistlines, bad sex, contradictions and inequities, and nothing guidance counselor Blecher can say will convince Lemon otherwise. But making the choice to opt out of sex and violence and cancer and disappointment doesn’t mean that these things don’t find you. It will be up to Lemon if she can survive them with her usual cavalier aplomb.

Mill Street Brewery — Lemon Tea Beer
With a citrus nip of acidity and the dryness of tea, this beer just doesn’t quite fit in. But, as you explore further, you will find value in its difference.

Flat Rock Cellars’ Twisted
Flat Rock Cellars ‘Twisted’ is the liquid version of Cordelia Strube’s complex character, Lemon. It has three mothers (Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Chardonnay), but the similarities run deeper than just parentage. Both remain independent and bold, both refuse to conform to the ways dictated by society or their peers and both show great depth, complexity and charm, making Twisted and Lemon the perfect pair.

Susan Holbrook, Joy is so Exhausting (Coach House Books)

Joyfully melding knowing humour and wordplay, Holbrook’s collection is a comic fusion of the experimental and the experiential, the procedural and the lyric. Her poems don’t use humour as much as they deconstruct the comic impulse, exposing its roots in the political, the psychological and the emotional life of the mind. Many of the poems import shapes and source texts from elsewhere in a series of translations, transpositions and transgressions that invite a more intimate and critical rapport with the written word.

Neustadt Springs Brewery — 10W30
Brewed with a serious commitment to traditional brown ales but named with an impish sense of humour, this dark, drinkable beer will smoothly compliment this book.

Trumpour’s Mill Pinot Gris
In the vineyard you misbehave, Pinot Gris, your selfish acts leave me concerned and wary. Yet trapped in the bottle you change, selfishness forgotten, generously you offer fresh spicy pear with notes of apple and long crisp finish that on a summer day take me back to when you were reckless in the vineyard.



Jacqueline Borowick, Le chant du coucou (Inanna Publications)

Through the prism of a marginal child puzzled about her true identity, Le chant de coucou / The Cuckoo’s Song, a collection of 63 poems in French and English, adds vivid flourishes to the drab canvas of the Great Depression and celebrates the indomitable spirit of the men and women who joined the Gold Rush to Val d’Or in Northwestern Quebec, in the 1930s and ‘40s. The community they carved, diverse and inclusive, their struggles, their joie de vivre—filaments of gold in the poet’s memory.

Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company — Lugtread Lagered Ale
A beer to match the indomitable spirit of men and women. The retro tractor on the bottle and the layers of flavours in the beer provide a perfect backdrop.

Reif Estate’s Chardonnay Sauvignon Blanc
These two traditional French grape varieties, together, create a unique blend that unifies them into a new identity. A fitting match to Jacqueline Borowick’s collection of 63 poems in French and English, written through the prism of a marginal child puzzled about her true identity.

Michèle Matteau, Passerelles (Les Éditions L’Interligne)

Recounting the unfolding of a single day in parallel with the seasons of the year, Michèle Matteau’s first poetry collection, Passerelles, explores the human journey. From the day’s dawning to the last light of dusk, the author recalls voices that have fallen silent and uses lines full of imagery to evoke the stages of their lives, their secret songs and calls for help, torn between joy and pain, certainty and doubt, revolt and acceptance. With lucid understanding, the author uses the stories of their lives to define her own more clearly.

Cameron’s Brewing Company — Dark 266
On a journey of four seasons in one day, this beer will be an ideal companion. Refreshing for the gentle moments, but full of flavourful roasted malts to compliment more intense times. In the end, a smooth and comforting finish.

Norman Hardie’s Melon de Bourgogne
Michèle Matteau’s poetry is so reflective of the many days we spend labouring in the vineyards and cellar growing and crafting premium wines. The many facets and interaction of terroir, human skill and moods as well as dedication and focus makes this poetic piece the perfect match to enjoy with our Melon de Bourgogne. Light, refreshing, perfect for those long summer days on the patio, just enjoying life. Ideal as an aperitif, fantastic with oysters, crustaceans or a perfect alternative with a light lunch.

Karen Solie, Pigeon (House of Anansi Press)

Karen Solie’s first collection of poems, Short Haul Engine, launched her writing career to prominence, winning many awards and citations. She continued her upward trajectory with Modern and Normal and this collection is another leap forward. The poems are X-rays of our delusions and mistaken perceptions, explorations of violence, bad luck, fate, creeping catastrophe, love, and the eros of danger. Once again, Solie shows that her ear is impeccable, her poetic intelligence rare and razor-sharp.

Niagara’s Best Brewery — General Brock Stout
The darkness belies the fate and creeping catastrophe. Stout meaning “strong” will provide the instensity to match the tone of the poems.

Pelee Island Winery’s Late Harvest Riesling
Anyone who works with the land can identify with Karen Solie’s observations. Pelee Island Winery’s Late Harvest Riesling reflects the sweet reward that comes with such an iconic struggle. It is an ideal balance of cool-climate acidity with a fragrant orchard fresh aroma and a delicate peach bouquet. A lovely wine to savour while pondering the elegance of Solie’s poetry.

Matthew Tierney, The Hayflick Limit (Coach House Books)

The Hayflick Limit concerns itself with boundaries of the cosmic and sub-atomic – how the mind contains both – and the sadsack creatures in the nexus, human beings. What does it mean to be an intelligent species? What does it mean to be an intelligent person? Shifting focus between the limits of the telescope and the limits of the microscope, the poems in Matthew Tierney’s second collection place a premium on inventiveness while embracing extremes of fear, pain, cognition and time.

MacLean’s Ales — Farmhouse Ale
This refreshing ale will provide a gentle grounding on your journey through the extremes of fear, pain, cognition and time.

Black Prince Winery’s Cabernet Franc
Humans have an unlimited passion for wine and food but are bound in time and space. Cabernet Franc is timeless, transcending the boundaries of the human condition. When paired with lamb this combination proves out of this world – almost heavenly, touching the senses … leaving one longing for another.


Looking at the small things that make life great and the people who create them.

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