by Melanie DeCarolis (www.likelii.com)
If you’re like millions of readers enthralled by Fifty Shades of Grey, you may have noticed the characters drink a lot of wine when they’re not up to steamier activities. And even though the mysterious titular Christian Grey has very singular appetites, wine lovers will definitely find many choices to their tastes.
In this installment, Part 1, we’ll talk wines that hit on a couple of recurrent themes in the book.
Warning: spoilers aplenty ahead. But you probably wouldn’t be reading this article if you hadn’t already read the book a few times.
Yeah, wine. Whatev. I just want to read the next spanking scene.
You want to spend some quality time with the book, sure. Shopping for different wines takes you away from that scene in the boathouse, or bathtub…soooo, when you’re just looking for a good buzz and a good, uh, tingle, use these shortcut ideas:
Go entirely Washington State. Washington has numerous microclimates so the wines produced in different areas will show great variation and nuance. In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s also the state where all the sexy sex goes on. So just go down the wine aisle, blindfolded preferably, and pick a few out. Voila!
Set yourself up with different rosé wines. Roses are hot right now, and that’s not just because of EL James’ clear delight of them. (Seriously, they seem drink a lot of rosé-based wines in Ana’s Vancouver). Rosés come in an amazing varied palette of antique rose to blush to deep Katy Perry near-fuschia. Get different colors and drink the one that corresponds to the level that you or Ana flush at when you get to a particularly torrid scene. In ascending order from modest pinkening to full-on Oh, my:
- Chateau Peyrassol Cotes du Provence ($29): a perennial summer favorite, a pretty pale salmon color. Its subdued strawberry minerality is not particularly complex, but you’ll be too busy reading between the lines of Ana & Christian’s flirty emails and analyzing the novel’s sexual politics—is Ana enslaved to Christian, or does she hold all the cards? (Despite his insistence on separate rooms, he sleeps in the same bed with her a lot. Discuss.)
- Commanderie de la Bargemone Rose Coteaux d’Aix en Provence ($10-$14): Herbs and not-quite-ripe strawberries with substantial enough weight in the mouth, and a long, clean, satisfying, tangy finish.
- Charles & Charles Columbia Valley Rosé ($9-$12): 100% syrah, rose-colored, and reminiscent of watermelon Jolly Ranchers with a good zing that won’t rattle your teeth.
- Crios de Susana Balbo Rose of Malbec ($13): Super deep and vibrant rose-colored, lushly perfumed with wild strawberries, red cherries and spicy red flowers with a clean, dry consuming finish. No rose petals on your bed tonight? This wine will console you nicely.
Bubbles! Bubbles! Bubbles! Boy, I hope Ana’s inner goddess has a high tolerance for alcohol with all the sparkling wines they knock back in this book. Even poor unloved José brings a bottle (probably Freixenet, $9, given that he’s been living on a student budget) to Ana’s door in Chapter 2. Technically, it’s cava, since it’s Spanish, but our dear Ana is still too unsophisticated and unworldly to know the difference.
Bollinger Grand Année Rosé ($200) seems to be a favorite of our mysterious mazillionaire, which refutes the idea that real (fictional) men don’t drink pink. A cheaper Bolly would be Bollinger NV Brut Special Cuvée ($50), while not a rosé, has luxurious flavors of green apples and pears that’ll make you fetchingly bite your lip in delight.
Riondo pink prosecco ($10): This baby-pink bubblefest heavy on the strawberry/cherry fruit and freshness will satisfy even the pickiest crowd of oenophiles, so maybe that’s why Christian’s parents serve it with dinner in Chapter 19.
Moet et Chandon. I’m not sure exactly what preflight Champagne is served in a first-class lounge before heading to Georgia (Chapter 22), but let’s assume that the airline is cutting costs like all the others—which means they’re probably serving non-vintage Imperial or White Star ($36-$50). So expect dry, toasty baked pear, apple, and brioche flavors, and effervescent bubbles like small steely pearls. Oh, yes, Moet does make a rosé too (Grand Vintage, various years, $90) and a very decadent, tropical non-vintage Nectar Imperial ($60).
In the next installment, we’ll really get into pairing the wines with the hotter parts of the book. But remember, reds are served “properly” around 60 degrees. So should your environment start feeling a little steamy, save the wine by sticking it in the icebox.
About Melanie DeCarolis
Melanie is a blogger and Content Editor for wine recommendation website, Likelii.com. A member of the Boston Sommelier Society, Melanie holds the designations of Certified Specialist of Wine; Level 1 sommelier from the Guild of Sommeliers; and the Advanced Certificate with Merit from the Wine and Spirits Educational Trust. She educates wine lovers as a guide for City Wine Tours in Boston and via her blog, Kiss My Glass Boston. She also has a collection of handbags that can carry two or more wine bottles just in case she happens upon a wine she can’t resist.