Monthly Must-Haves

The Chic List: Fall Pairings

It’s getting cool out there. If, like us, you have a craving for cozy curl up on the couch, we have just the thing. Victoria James, celebrated author and sommelier, is sharing her autumnal recommendations for one of our favorite pairings; books and wine.

Victoria with her puppy, Rocco. She wears Chico’s Geometric Link-Print Blouse and Wide Leg Pants.

By Victoria James

With a chill in the air, and many still cooped up inside due to the pandemic, what better pairing than a good book and glass of wine?

As an author and sommelier, I’m constantly reading about ever changing wine laws and regulations, so it’s a nice treat when I get to read books focused more on storytelling (albeit still in the vinous family). For both wine experts and novices alike, no matter how much you study it can still be hard to contextualize a wine. For example, you know that Champagne is in France but what are all of the different styles like and what do you pair with it!? One of the best ways to hone this (aside from traveling to the wine regions themselves which can be a bit tricky during these times) is by reading and drinking.

Here are three of-the-moment books by incredible female authors with plenty of vinous knowledge to soak up. 

Vignette by Jane Lopes is one of the most compelling wine books since it intertwines memoir with information. Raw and unfiltered, it is about her personal sommelier journey, which she pairs with 100 bottles. One of the wines she mentions, Sherry, is an autumnal favorite of mine. This style of wine can range from bone-dry (Manzanilla or Fino) which is great with grilled fish, as well as sweeter examples (Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez) that are delicious on your Thanksgiving table. 

Wine pairing: Lustau Manzanilla Papirusa ($10-20).

Better with Bubbles by Ariel Arce comes out this November, and it promises to be one of the most entertaining book debuts in quite some time. Champagne sounds fancy but Arce makes it approachable by listing affordable options plus splurge-worthy finds. Bubbly is THE best holiday gift and because of the extra textural element, second fermentation flavors, and bright acidity, it goes with virtually everything. Plus, Arce shows us how to throw a Champagne pizza party which, honestly, is the celebration we all need after this crazy 2020 year. 

Wine pairing: A. Margarine Champagne ($50ish)

Old World Italian by Mimi Thorisson provides a much-needed escape. This cookbook is really a love letter to all things Italy and provides beautiful wine pairings and even wine cocktail recipes. As someone with deep Piedmontese heritage, I couldn’t help but feel drawn to this book which focuses heavily on one of my favorite grapes: nebbiolo. With truffles in season during autumn and winter, this heady wine follows the historic “what grows together, goes together” pairing notion. The tart and full bodied wines of Barolo and Barbaresco, made from nebbiolo, are a dream with the locally grown white truffles of Alba. The most important takeaway from this book, for me, is that food and wine taste at it’s best when they come from the same place. Celebrate regionality and be prepared to be transported to the rustic Italian countryside.

Wine pairing: GD Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo ($20ish)

Victoria wears Chico’s Fringe Trim Jacquard Topper, Tan Felt Fedora Hat, and Brigitte Pants.

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