Swafford on Wine: Wine to drink with a good book, or a good book to read with wine

Lately, I’ve rekindled my interest in reading a good book. Did I just say “rekindled?” Unfortunate word choice: I do not mean to suggest Kindle, the online book source that you read on a computer screen. I want to hold a book in my hands and turn the pages with my fingers.

If I pick up a copy of “The Sun Also Rises,” I plan to have a glass of Tempranillo from Rioja in northern Spain as I run with the bulls in Pamplona with the American expatriates in the Roaring Twenties.

Ernest Hemingway got me interested in bullfighting back when I was a cocky college sophomore. I used his non-fiction history of the art of the torero, “Death in the Afternoon,” as my principle source for a term paper on bullfighting. I became fascinated with the world of matadors and the dark-eyed women who followed them and who often presented more danger than the horns of the bull. (An all-too-common matador’s occupational hazard was syphilis.)

I got an A on that term paper but felt I should also have been given both ears and the tail, as well.

My literary wife and I looked in on a book fair the other day at our local Newport Library because I recognized the names of some friends and neighbors who have demonstrated a way with words. I was surprised to find maybe 20 local writers with stacks of books in front of them they had published.

Sue Fagalde Lick was there. Sue has been a journalist for newspapers in California and for our Newport News-Times. She has taught writing at our community college and has published eight books, including several novels. Santa Claus had left a copy of her latest book in my stocking hung by the chimney with care. “Up Beaver Creek” is a novel that tells the story of a recently widowed 42-year-old woman who leaves Missoula, Mont., and heads for the Oregon coast to try to reinvent herself. P.D., as she calls herself, is just beginning to make contacts and find her way around places in Newport that are very familiar to this reader when the tsunami that we might one day see in real time hits the coast during Thanksgiving dinner. You will want a glass of Oregon Pinot noir in your hand to get through what happens next, and you will want to go to [email protected] to get your copy to find out.

Claire Hall wrote “McCallandia” (using her pen name, Bill Hall), an excellent what-if book that imagines Gov. Tom McCall being chosen as Nixon’s vice president instead of Gerald Ford and becoming president when Nixon resigns. Claire, back when she was Bill, worked for Tom McCall’s campaign and wished he had run as an independent in his comeback campaign because he was a statesman who rose above party labels. Drink a glass of Oregon Muscat or Moscato while you read this excellent biography that morphs into delightful, wishful fantasy. For where to get a copy, go to [email protected].

Christina bought a copy of Doug Stone’s book of poetry, “The Moon’s Soul Shimmering On the Water,” when she saw the subtitle on the cover: “On this chilly autumn evening, sweet wine and poetry will keep us warm.” There is a section titled: “Poems of Wine and War.” For more Doug Stone poetry, go online to Finishing Line Press.

I have read four of Jim Kennison’s books, three of which are classic western yarns with titles such as “Letters From a Bounty Hunter,” “Big Trouble in a Small Town” and “Heartbreak Trail to Pueblo.” They’ve got shootouts, frontier justice and long times spent in the saddle under wide open western skies. Jim, a retired college professor and administrator, has created characters such as Jamison Jakes, who evolves from drifter to bounty hunter to lawman, and we all come to care about him, though none more than Maryalice, who we know will eventually become his wife. Recently when I ran into Jim Kennison on the beach near where we both live, he promised me there would be a sequel that will give us one more ride with Jamison Jakes. I’d suggest pulling the cork on a bottle of Old Vine Zinfandel when you open these no-nonsense westerns, but when the bullets start flying, I’ll understand why you may reach for a whiskey. Contact Jim at [email protected] to find the books, if not the whiskey.

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A quick report on the Commercial Wine Competition at the First Taste Oregon in Salem earlier this month. A Newport delegation of Bobbi Price, Mac McLaren and myself joined two Salem-area judges to rate 99 wines from the state in the earliest wine competition for the new year.

Chris James Cellars 2016 Reserve Pinot noir was awarded Best of Show Red Wine, and Noble Estate Vineyard and Winery took Best of Show White Wine with its 2017 Muscat (ask for it at the Noble Estate Tasting Room on the Newport Bayfront). Cardwell Hill Cellars took four golds — three for Pinot noir and one for Pinot gris.

First Taste Oregon will be at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem on Jan. 25 and 26. Hopefully we will see many of these wines at the Newport Se4afood and Wine Festival next month.


Joseph Swafford, [email protected]


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