Literature and gastronomy have, across centuries, been an iconic duo representing culture and social graces. It is February, the season for red roses, chocolate and the supposed love floating in the air like lingering perfume. But what if you could treat yourself to something different, something that you wouldn’t have to rely on anyone else to provide that could set you in the mood? With today being Valentine’s Day, your book fairy got to work to provide you with ways that you can treat yourself, engage in self-care, or share a special moment with someone by getting lost in stories that will be sure to either get your heart rate pumping or take you down the coated path of the fairy-tale ending for the hopeless romantics. I bring to you ‘Wines and spines for valentines’. (For those of you who don’t know, ‘spine’ is another word for books taken from the spine-like support of the backbone of the book.) I teamed up with the awesome people over at Harbour Wines and Spirits to bring to you the 4-1-1 on their sexiest wines and the books that will complement them for Valentine’s Day.
A Taste of Sage by Yaffa Santos and Trivento Reserve Chardonnay, Mendoza Argentina
I think its safe to say that everyone loves a book with the enemies-to-lovers trope. Two persons who cannot stand a bone in each other finding themselves eventually leaning in to the effects of love. Throw in food and we might just have a winner. If you are like me, food is everything. A Taste of Sage by Yaffa Santos focuses on Lumi, a Dominican chef who takes a leap and opens her restaurant in Manhattan. Unable to keep the business above water, she is forced to take a job at a traditional French restaurant as a sous-chef working for an established and renowned chef, Julien Dax, who has a lethal tongue and a saucy attitude. As the story progresses, Lumi and Julien grow closer; however, there is one particular character who isn’t too pleased by their growing fondness and makes it her duty to see how best she can break the love jones forming between the two. We paired this one with the Argentinian grown Trivento Reserve Chardonnay. Although Chardonnay is known for being a full-bodied, oaky wine, this Trivento comes in with a smooth balance that dissolves on your tongue with a tropical fruity taste. I found this quite reminiscent of the rocky start that Lumi and Julien take us on in the earlier chapters of the book, and the beautiful ending that we all want to see. The modern and refreshing Chardonnay, which is best consumed chilled, is not sweet but still leaves us with an enlivening feeling on the taste buds.
365 Days by Blanka Lipinska and Ménage àTrois Luscious, California
If you have been an avid member of the Netflix club, then chances are you were caught on the wave of the Netflix blockbuster adaptation of this erotic book. This one scores extremely high in the steam department and is perfect if you’re up for a risqué, blood-pumping storyline. Laura and her boyfriend are on vacation in Sicily, Italy, when she is kidnapped by Massimo Torricelli, the immensely attractive leader of a powerful Sicilian family, who believes that she was the women he envisioned when he almost died from an earlier attempt on his life. He vows that he will find her at all costs and when he does, he keeps her captive where he bargains with her to give him 365 days to woo her and win her over, otherwise returning to her the freedom she had. As time goes by, Laura develops a fascination for Massimo, after much resistance, while external forces work to put an end to Massimo and Laura’s happiness. It was only fitting to read this one with a glass of Ménage à Trois Luscious. Though falling under the category of Pinot Noir, this wine takes us to the darker side. Seductively formulated with luxuriant, rich raspberry and black cherry flavours, coupled with flirtatious hints of vanilla, this light-bodied wine sets you down with a smooth finish that is an excellent way to set the mood for this raunchy novel. Special thanks to publishers Simon and Schuster for the gifted copy of this book. Be sure to check out the sequel, This Day, which was released in December 2021 and can be seen pictured here.
Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert and Chateau Ste, Michelle Merlot, Columbia Valley
This favourite from the Brown sisters trilogy is the second book centered around Danika, a driven and highly successful executive who channels all her energy into her work, with a sceptical view on love. For her, romance adds no real value to the plans she has for the progression of her life, especially since she has had her share of messy relationships. When the video of Zafir, her security guard, saving her from an unsuccessful fire drill goes viral, Dani devises a plan to fake a relationship with Zafir while getting her wish to have a friends-with-benefits situation undercover. It is not very long before things between corporate Dani and sucker for romance Zafir become more complex than she had anticipated, leaving her to hopefully take a hint.
This funny, romantic and sexy novel is just what you need when comfortably equipped with this Merlot in hand. Though also oaky and comparatively strong-willed, it balances out with a bold but soft combination of vanilla, chocolate and black cherry. It tickles the fancy with the crisp and stimulating red-fruit flavour, boasting 25 mentions of tree fruit notes, reminiscent of the contrast in personalities between Dani and Rafi and how their love story unfolds.
Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras Challand (non-alcohol sparkling wine) France
Sara Vance is a social media influencer recovering from an eating disorder, whose career is on the brink of a major expansion. Her family, however, despite the great news, has a way of still making her feel as if she isn’t enough. So, when her unreliable boyfriend does not show up for their family vacation, Sara refuses to go alone and recruits Louis, the sexy Cuban firefighter paramedic who is always willing to help a damsel in distress. As they memorise their ‘how we met’ stories, sharing of secrets, and delve into all the fun and engaging activities together, they develop a bond that neither expected. The question is, when it’s all said and done and everyone must return home, will their relationship blossom like a beautiful flower or fade into the distance like the vacation they left behind? With this light, funny and charming storyline, the Challand sparkling non-alcoholic wine was the perfect companion. The elegant and effervescent Challand is also a treat for the amateur wine drinkers, or persons who have no desire to drink alcohol but still want to enjoy the sexy taste of wine without the intoxication that accompanies it. Get in all the laughs while sipping on the soft and floral taste of the Challand grown in the country of love itself – France.
Hoang Trilogy by Helen Hoang and Julia Dulce Natural by Santa Julia, Mendoza Argentina
The Hoang Trilogy is a favourite for romance lovers and just book lovers in general. Hoang introduces strong and compelling characters that are relatable and lovable. Each book is original and sensitive, going right to the heart as you follow the main characters and their just-as-engaging subcharacters. Follow Stella and Michael, Esme and Khai, and Anna and Quan as they go through life as they know it, and see how love accosts them and takes them captive. Be sure to grab a bottle of the sparkling rosé wine fused with tropical berry flavours of strawberry and raspberry with a hint of citrus, guaranteed to win you over with its crisp essence and smooth landing on the tongue. A celebratory wine, the Julia will have you feeling easy-breezy while you bask in the leisure of this intriguing trilogy.
Here are a few more book recommendations to get you either hot and bothered or sweet and cosy:
Seven Days in June by Tia Williams
Reel by Kennedy Ryan
The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon
Sweethand by N.G Peltier
Ties that Tether by Jane Igharo