Viva la rom-com! And viva succulent, sultry reds to guzzle with them! That's the essence of this book + bottle pairing today. Because what is more fun than popping a bottle of something fun and juicy to splash into a glass with a friend while indulging in some classical meet-cute romantics?
People have been decrying the death of the romcom for years, and with reason: The form as it once existed (blockbuster, mainstream) is in a pretty clear decline, at least on the screen. But of course, a book can be a romcom, too; all movies had to be written first, after all. And Camille Perri's delightful new novel, When Katie Met Cassidy, most deliberately is.
I saw Perri read from and present this book a few weeks ago at Books Are Magic in Brooklyn, and while I hadn't heard of her before, I was immediately smitten. An elfin woman who was formerly the books editor of Cosmopolitan and Esquire and author of the also-acclaimed novel The Assistants, she spoke to wanting to see the kind of cheesy/cute romance long afforded to hetero couples for a female-female romance. It's no surprise that her icon is Nora Ephron, and it shows in the book. The basic plot: The day after being dumped by her fiancé, the traditional blonde-and-beautiful 28-yr-old Katie Daniels, a lawyer in New York, meets the enigmatic, sharp, arresting Cassidy Price at a client negotiation meeting. Energy flies across the table, and a whirlwind romance begins. The standard romcom structure is there: An obvious meet-cute, romancing, fight/climax, and, well, I won't give away the ending. But the whole book is fun, funny, sexy, sweet, and totally different from anything I've ever read while also so familiar; I blew through it in 24 hours, staying up WAY past my bedtime because I just couldn't put it down, and everyone I know who's read it said the same thing.
It was serendipitous that I had purchased this bottle just before starting this book. Recommended highly, it's a one-off collaboration between two well-known vitners who wanted to make a warm-weather red for those who don't always stick to whites when it's hot out; think of this as a barbecue red, a summer-dinner-party red. Hence the little pink pigs on the poppy label. (The name is a double kind of pun. "L'art des choix" means the art of choice. "Lard" means lard; the meat of choice.) My first thought was "Oooh, smoky! Sultry! Steamy!" So, uh, pretty perfect for a book about two women who can't keep their hands off one another. I poured a glass to sit with at my kitchen counter as I ate a late afternoon weekend snack-dinner of figs/bread/prosciutto (because pig on the label!) and open this book, and, well, I didn't put either down for a long time.
Even a day or two after opening, this wine is excellent. I recommend it lightly chilled, but not cold. While it drinks like a light red (say, a pale-red Gamay or Pinot Noir), and it was recommended to me when I said I wanted a chillable light red, it's technically not. It's a Southern Rhone blend, much darker in color and fruit than you would get from one of those. Think biting into a very ripe, almost black cherry at the height of summer that's just been pulled out of the fridge. Sweetness fills your mouth, but very quickly there's a lip-smacking tartness to cut it, and as soon as it's down you want another, and another. There's a little currant in here too, and something like the whiff of tobacco; like making out with someone who's had red wine and a cigarette a few hours ago, feeling all that flavor and sensuality mix together in a need-more-want-more mouthful. I've been drinking much more red wine this summer than I normally do, and this one was a pleasant surprise after going through bottle after bottle of crisp white.
So surprisingly refreshing, different from their usual forms, this book and bottle are possible one of my favorite pairings. I'll be certainly seeking out the bottle again to pair with maybe When Harry Met Sally. The book, unfortunately, I've already lent out—I'm spreading the joy of Camille Perri everywhere I can.