Celebrate summer with bubbles and a good book
Looking to begin a new chapter? Pick up one of these Frenchy-approved page-turners with a side of Champagne.
At fatcork, our motto “celebrate every day” means we’re popping bottles of Champagne on a picnic blanket at the summer concert series, at the lake house with our cousins and in the backyard of our childhood home to honor our parents on their 50th wedding anniversary. It also means that we enjoy sipping a cold, crisp glass of bubbles in the quiet moments when we’re curled up on the porch with a good book. Read on for expert pairing recommendations from fatcork’s general manager, resident Frenchy and in-house bookworm, Iza.
If you enjoy cooking with wine and sometimes even put it in the food, Iza recommends:
“My life in France” by Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme
A love letter to all the things Julia Child loved in life, this collection of autobiographical narratives about France (Child’s "spiritual homeland") and the "many pleasures of cooking and eating" is a must-read for fans of the famed cookbook author and passionate champion of French cooking. Compiled during the last eight months of her life, this national bestseller was co-authored and published in 2006 by her great-nephew a couple of years after Child’s death in 2004.
Pair this rich memoir with Jean Baillette-Prudhomme Extra Brut Réserve.
Your roasted chicken and fingerling potatoes have cooled down enough to pop them in the fridge, and they’ll be ready for dunking in homemade mayonnaise later this evening. In the meantime, it’s time to relax. Find a sunny spot on your back porch from which to get lost in the world of Julia Child wisdom with a glass of this beautiful dry Champagne. Bursting with flavors of red apple skin, juicy red currant and doughy brioche followed by a bouquet of white flowers, every sip will transport you further into Child’s world as you close your eyes to imagine the intoxicating smells coming from her kitchen.
If your infatuation with food spills over into your choice of fiction, Iza recommends:
“Five Quarters of the Orange” by Joanne Harris
Bestselling author of “Blackberry Wine” and “Chocolat” Joanne Harris weaves a tale of war, secrets, trauma, love and forgiveness set against the backdrop of one small village in two different times: one in present day France and the other during the German occupation amid World War II. Of course, food plays a starring role throughout the narrative, as well, both as a way to express love and as a means of doing harm. And in the end, it's what ties the chronologies together.
Pair this page-turner with Gimonnet-Oger Millésime 2011.
A cool summer rain may have forced you to find cover for the day, but thanks to a lightweight throw and cozy spot to lounge, you’re as happy as a clam. This unctuous Premier Cru blanc de blancs is just right for sipping as you dive into Joanne Harris’ powerful fictional tale. Right away, you’ll taste comforting and pleasant notes of orange citrus followed by fresh-churned butter, flakey brioche, warm honey and a kiss of must that speaks of years in a damp underground cellar. (Interesting fact: Gimonnet-Oger’s cellars date back to the 17th century, and residents of Cuis used them for refuge during the actual German occupation.)
If your taste tends toward the classic but with a surprising turn, Iza recommends:
“The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” by Victor Hugo
If you haven’t yet read this iconic piece of literature that uplifts the values of French (or if it’s been awhile), it’s definitely worth a pickup. As an added twist, author Victor Hugo left a hidden message embedded in his tale about the unlikely relationship between a young gypsy woman and an outcast bell-ringer. Hugo actually wrote this novel to celebrate the role of Gothic architecture in creating the vibrancy of 15th century France and to preserve its importance as new technologies like the printing press emerged on the scene.
Pair this perfectly crafted prose with Adrien Redon Le Grand R.
Its nuance crafted like a true architect, Le Grand R is the perfect choice to sip while enjoying Hugo’s Gothic tale. Beautiful peaks of acidity and a weighty round mouthfeel make the Champagne’s highlighted old-vine grapes shine. Vigneron Adrien Redon instills and preserves everything his father taught him while also adding his own vibrancy to each of his cuvées. Like the relationship of Esmérelda and Quasimodo, the name of this cuvée also has a hidden double meaning: The “R” in Le Grand R stands for Redon, of course. But in a clever French twist, the letter “R” is pronounced “air,” so the translation reads “in the air of being grand.”
If you crave a juicy scandal, Iza recommends:
"Madame Bovary: Provincial Manners” by Gustave Flaubert
A masterpiece of literary realism, Gustave Flaubert’s debut novel is a must-read among modern literature. Once thought of as “trés scandaleux,” this story portrays the complexity of human emotions and how the influence and excitement of romance, luxury and passion sometimes gets the best of us. In a present-day world where the desire to escape from mediocrity is more prominent than ever, these vehemences are still taboo.
Pair Madame Bovary’s tragic plot with Alexandre Lenique Pur Noir
A crisp, dry and refreshing glass of Pur Noir will be a welcomed reprieve to this juicy, impassioned read. Like the book, this bottle is complex and delicately nuanced. At first sip, expect red apple skin, orange zest and a kiss of salinity followed by a lengthy and clean finish. Similarly to the way Flaubert uses contrast to heighten meaning throughout his novel, vignernon Alexandre Lenique uses delicate, highly skilled techniques to preserve freshness and bring out the fruity, bold flavors of the pinot noir grapes. At the same time, this meticulous methodology also imparts his cuvées with incredible finesse.
If you’re prone to thinking deep thoughts, Iza recommends:
“The Stranger” by Albert Camus
This dramatic and absurd psychological thriller touches on the essential importance of morality and the effects of its absence through an existential lens. Everything is present. Everything is now. Rejoice in what life offers (aka “celebrate every day”) without trying to dig for deeper intrinsic meaning or rational understanding. Life — c’est comme ça!
Pair this suspenseful story with Didier-Ducos Absolu Meunier
You finally have time to sit back and ponder the meaning of life. In the grand scheme of the universe, our lives are just a blip in time. Why not enjoy that time we have with an incredible glass of bubbles and a book in the sunshine? At fatcork, we believe in being present 100 percent of the time, honoring all of life’s moments big and small. And we’d pick up this 100 percent pinot meunier from Didier-Ducos for any occasion. It tastes of grandma’s sugar cookies and zesty pink grapefruit, and its light, spritzy bubbles are a good match for bringing you back from the dark recesses of your mind.
Happy reading and sipping!