Weekly Wine Picks

At the bottom of all our My Wine Canada blog posts, we provide a byline. My byline states that, in addition to being the wine columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press, I’m also the literary editor — a fancy way of saying I edit both the books section of the paper (yes, we still have one of those) as well as the letters to the editor page.

With that in mind, I found myself thinking about a few of my favourite “book” wines on the My Wine Canada site — reds or whites I’d like to sip while poring over the latest in the world of fiction or non-fiction…

  • For lighter, breezier lit — think the perfect beach book, if you can do such a thing in February — the first wine that comes to mind is the Seasons 2013 Summer white blend. It brings Riesling, Muscat and Gewürztraminer together unencumbered by oak, letting the crisp red apple, peach, apricot and spice flavours shine through with just a touch of sweetness.

J.K. Rowling has done a fab job post-Harry Potter of bringing detective Cormoran Strike to life in her adult crime novels written under the pen name Robert Galbraith. They’re endlessly engaging page-turners perfect for the beach — check out last year’s The Silkworm, the second in the Cormoran Strike series.

When I read more literary fiction — something a bit more dense and/or intense than easy-going beach fare — I want a wine with a bit more intensity and depth to it.

  • The Painted Rock 2012 Syrah, aged in oak for 18 months, certainly brings an intensity that few Okanagan reds can match. Deep black cherry, earth and raspberry flavours work with the well-integrated oak and tannin, making for a wine worthy of some contemplation yet with a New World playfulness.

I’m a huge fan of Miriam Toews’ books; she manages to tackle serious subject matter, yet retains a dark humour that makes them extremely captivating. Her latest, last year’s All My Puny Sorrows, is probably her best, grappling with themes of family, depression, and suicide with levity and grace.

When it comes to non-fiction I like something that will alter my world view — that will open my eyes to something I might not have seen or noticed before. Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, for example, tackles heady subject matter — it’s tough to sum up, but essentially it’s a warning that the effects of climate change are only combatable if we undertake an overhaul in our economic system.

  • The Summerhill 2011 Baco Noir does a good job of offering intense dark fruit flavours as well as leafy notes, some vanilla and spice from oak aging, as well as some lighter peppery notes that are complex. It’s from an organic winery whose proprietors have been doing things differently for some time — and with excellent results. Summerhill’s dedication to organic winemaking and respect for land and people makes it a perfect pairing.


Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson is the wine columnist and literary editor for the Winnipeg Free Press. He’s on Twitter and Instagram at @bensigurdson.