This was the first wine and book I thought of actually consciously pairing together; the book and bottle that started it all. Because I was reading one and had just bought and opened the other and Iooked back and forth between the two and thought "duh." Because what else do you pair with a book about being a sex-empowered woman than a wine called the Gama Sutra?
It was pure coincidence that I happened to be reading Karley Scortino's debut release, Slutever, when this funky 100% Loire Valley Gamay was recommended to me, but what a proper pairing. Serendipitously sex-themed and juicy as hell, I enjoyed both immensely on a night in.
The Gama Sutra is a fun, funky cherry-cola wine—aka, it tastes exact like a Cherry Coke, slightly sweet and round with that distinctive savory, almost nutty cola taste (cola is, after all, a nut). The Loire Valley perhaps most known for whites, but don't sleep on its reds. This gamay was grown in the limestone hills of Touraine, meaning it's got some solid minerality to it and a lil of that wet-gravel feel going on. (Lest that turn you off, it's a great thing for a wine. Adds a wonderful mouth-feel without heaviness.) The Gama Sutra is thus as endlessly juicy as its sole grape promises, but with a lot more quirks than your usual kick-back gamay. Being that it's naturally produced, there's a bit of wildness to it—but what else would you expect from the name?
Sip on that while you page through Slutever, which I picked up in a spat of reading nonfiction books about female empowerment this winter. With the subhead "Dispatches from a Sexually Autonomous Woman in a Post-Shame World," it proved a delicious break from some of the more intellectualized books I was reading. Mostly a memoir by the Internet sex-writer Scortino, who runs the popular website and a Viceland TV show with the same name as her book and writes a dating advice column for Vogue, it vaults between camp and consideration as she tells of her sexploits over the years. The book begins with recounting her early sex discoveries as a popular teen in Westchester, New York, flowing into a few year stint living in a communal squat in London, then back to New York where she discovered open relationships, sugaring, and domination, entered the BDSM and sex work communities, and became an advocate for a sex-positive brand of feminism that's popular these days (though she was ahead of the curve on it). She's brash and bracing, and the book's title and ethos seek to reclaim the derogatory word: “A slut is a person who seeks out visceral experiences through sex. Being a slut is not necessarily about having a high body count; it’s about being sexually activated. A slut is someone who has no moral obstacle between themselves and their desire to enjoy sex. A slut is a person who has sex with who they want, how they want, and isn’t ashamed about it. Sluts are special. Sluts are radical.”
But while the premise is refreshing, Scortino has some misses. Self-taught writer by way of the Internet, the book can feel a little... well, like her blog. Which is to say: Deeply personal, but also unedited, which the book could benefit from for cohesion. Having made a career the way many new media success stories have—by getting in on blogging in the early days and creating a unique voice and niche—she's no doubt got an audience, but I wondered while reading it who the audience is. My guess is mostly white women. While the book is no doubt pushing a message of empowerment, Sit's also a bit narrow-minded. In preaching the gospel of sluttiness, Scortino seems to miss that not everyone has the option to enjoy bountiful sex; that it can be painful for people; that being super sexually active is a privilege afforded to her because she's a beautiful blond cis white woman. I waited the whole book for that acknowledgement, which never came, and it muted the overall message for me a little bit. It's easy to espouse a personally-developed ideology; the hard part is figuring out how to make it inclusive.
Overall, though, the book is worth a read—and the wine is 1000% worth a drink. Ultimately, both the book and the bottle are fun, young, sexy iterations of things that can often be taken too seriously: Sex and natural red wines. Loire reds age well, too, so if you happen upon some Gama Sutra, drink one now and save one for next fall when it will surely be even riper, fuller, and ready to be savored.
Book: Slutever: Dispatches from a Sexually Autonomous Woman in a Post-Shame World, Karley Scortino.
Bottle: Vins Contés Gama Sutra 2016, purchased at Uva Wines & Spirits.