Fifty Shades of Grey: A novel wine for romance

Would you rather drink the wine or read the book? For pleasant peach and pineapple flavors, taste the White Silk wine.
Would you rather drink the wine or read the book? For pleasant peach and pineapple flavors, taste the White Silk wine.

More than a year ago I purchased a book for the Wine Goddess for her birthday. It was billed as a “provocative romance” by savvy marketers. The women on The View were gleefully reading excerpts to the nation about the “playroom” adventures of literature student Anastasia Steele and the rich, handsome and older Christian Grey.
By now you should know the book’s title, the best-selling Fifty Shades of Grey written by E.L James. If you didn’t figure it out, don’t feel bad; I didn’t know about the book previously to purchasing it except that it was popular in women’s book clubs.
When I presented it to the Wine Goddess she looked it over with more suspicion than joy. I didn’t understand, nor did I inquire. But days went by and the book just sat there on a table while the latest John Grisham best-seller journeyed to different lounging spots in the house. When she finished Grisham, she moved on to Nelson Demille’s latest and then tried out a Donna Leon mystery on the life and times of Venetian Commissario Guido Brunetti. All the while Fifty Shades of Grey picked up dust to the point where it could have been called Fifty Shades of Coal.

Cary Grant and Sophia Loren in Houseboat (1958).
Cary Grant and Sophia Loren in Houseboat (1958).

The Wine Goddess said little about the book. Finally, I asked her why she ignored it.
“Did you read the book?,” she said, answering my question with a question, knowing that such replies from her usually make me break out in a sweat.
“Do you think there’s something wrong with our 23 years of marriage that we need handcuffs, masks and secrets to make us happy?”
I was perspiring profusely. I didn’t know where this was going. Handcuffs? Then it hit me. They tell a lawyer never to ask a question in court unless he already knows the answer. I just learned that you should never buy your wife a book unless a.) she puts it on her gift list first, and b.) you have an idea what’s inside the cover.
Of course, I was intrigued by the “handcuffs” comment. It told me that the Wine Goddess knew more about the book than I did. Later, I discovered that Fifty Shades of Grey is the first book of a trilogy which is  filling author E.L. James’ bank account in seven figures. Next there will likely be a TV show or a movie.
I wish this were the end of the story but it’s not.
Several weeks ago, I walked into Tutto Bene Wine & Cheese Cellar in Lowell to talk with Richard Rourke about new wine releasesp. The Wine Wizard was conducting a tasting and urged me to try a special white blend. I took one look at the bottle and began to laugh. It was “Fifty Shades of Grey White Silk.” I said “no thanks” yet Rourke insisted, so I took a glass, inspected the color and contents (a shade darker than translucent), sniffed it (pear, apple aromas) and tasted it (a creamy texture of peach cobbler, pear and pineapple). It was much better than I had expected. It had a crisp finish, and I correctly assumed the blend included Sauvignon Blanc. The other varietal was the floral Gewurztraminer.
Should I dare buy it? I did.
That night the Wine Goddess made a simple meal of toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches on thick Ciabatta bread, with homemade chicken vegetable soup. When the time came, I cracked open the wine. She looked at the label and, much to my relief, said, “This looks interesting.”
We sat down on the couch, small tables in front of us, and began to watch “Houseboat”, a 1958 movie  starring Cary Grant and Sophia Loren. I kept one eye on the TV and the other on the Wine Goddess as she sipped the wine. Eventually, she asked for another glass. Then slowly and surely she made her way to my side of the couch and whispered in my ear: “I don’t  think Cary Grant and Sophia Loren would want to read Fifty Shades of Grey. All they needed was each other.”

I was delightfully contented.
Fifty Shades of Grey White Silk (there is also a red blend called Red Satin) is produced in California and sells for less than $20 a bottle. It would make for a nice Valentine’s Day gift with a box of chocolates. Pair it with the book of the same name at your own peril.



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