Archive for the ‘Wine Lit’ Category

The Story Arc of Wine

I love it when wine gets to be its own character in a great novel—so my hopes were high when Zinfandel made a daring appearance on page 4 of Freedom, Jonathan Franzen’s much-discussed latest book. In introducing the main female character, Franzen writes:

Behind her you could see the baby-encumbered preparations for a morning of baby-encumbered errands; ahead of her, an afternoon of public radio, the Silver Palate Cookbook, cloth diapers, drywall compound, and latex paint; and then Goodnight Moon, then zinfandel.”

Sounds innocent enough—and, to some of us, eerily familiar—right? Unfortunately things go downhill from there, and by page 15, Patty is described as “all Chardonnay Splotch.” I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to reveal that by page 162, she’s drinking cooking sherry.

Happily, wine regains its dignity by novel’s end—although it’s somewhat overshadowed by beer, martinis, and, of course, the completely absorbing and labyrinthine primary story line.

If you’re looking for other literary works in which wine gets a satisfying cameo, a little anthology called Wine Memories: Great Writers on the Pleasures of Wine (Chronicle Books, 2000) serves as an excellent source. Edited by Sara Nicklès, the book consists of 40 excerpts from novels, essays, and memoirs. A favorite, from The Sun Also Rises:

“This wine is too good for toast-drinking, my dear. You don’t want to mix emotions up with a wine like that. You lose the taste.”

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