Here is the recipe for a perfect weekend day: An interesting but easy-drinking wine, a new favorite author to pore over, and some kind of baked good to snack on while you fall in love with both.
Let's get one thing out of the way: Lorrie Moore is a legend, and I am late to the party. A master of the darkly funny but not really funny story, it is surprising it took me so long to get around to her. But then, there are too many books in the world to ever try to get to all of them so I don’t feel that guilty. Similarly, given my penchant for dry, aromatic, minerally white wines, it’s surprising that it took me this long to discover moschofilero, the Greek grape that meets all of those criteria.
The moschofilero grape is the Greek equivalent of a Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris: Light, dry, medium acidity, and with some lovely floral notes and a bit of spice that give it character. I’d argue, in fact, that it’s better than your average Pinot Grigio because it’s also got some minerality by nature of the rocky Greek soil. That’s all to say: This is a great grape! Not super well known yet, but hot damn, it should be. I’ve found myself turning to it quite a bit lately, and this bottle, from Troupis winery in the Peloponnese mountains, is a total rock star. Salty, minerally, plus some deep pear and citrus for a little brightness—like the ocean crashing over the rocks below a verdant cliff where beautiful fragrant gardenias and wildflowers are growing, the sun glinting off the waves and the air thick with perfume. That's how I like to imagine the Peloponnese, anyway, since I've never been. This bottle isn't quite as kick-backable as those other light whites I compared it to, either; you’ll be able to sit with this, though it’s so good I don’t know how slowly you’re gonna drink it. Also: It's not expensive! Retails for around $15. That is a DEAL.
Maybe you’re thinking: Salty, Greek, why pair this with an American writer’s book from the mid-80s? Shouldn’t that go with Chardonnay? The answer is no, because Lorrie Moore is not smooth and round. Lorrie Moore’s command of language is light, bright, quick, and clever. It’s not at all what you’d expect; there are turns of phrase everywhere that make it a joy to read, and that enliven the sometimes heavy-ish themes of the stories. Divorce, unhappy marriages, failures at everything. Her protagonists are largely women, largely white upper-middle class, and largely suffering from the kind of unfulfilled life ennui that populates ‘80s fiction. It’s not new territory, but the way Moore spins it, it feels like it—she was one of the popularizers of this form, after all. Relatable and mesmerizing, the stories of Self Help will draw you in and keep you there… much like moschofilero will surely do.
A wine and a writer that, once you’ve discovered them, you’ll come back to over and over again, and that will stick with you long after you’ve put them down.