No, this is not a review of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” wines. But, now that the movie has opened to mediocre at best (and many humorous) reviews, I figured I would re-compile past blogs once more on the wines of “Fifty Shades of Grey”, before the fad fades. I have not read the books in their entirety…I did flip through them for the wine segments. Really. I did learn at some point at the height of their popularity that the author had on her website a list of all the wine references in her three books. As someone who looks for wine references in popular culture (as I have cringed in writing more than once over the ridiculous wine glasses and fake high end wine name in “Scandal”, for example), I figured there was at least a small bounty of wine-related things to talk about, and even possibly make fun of, in these books.
Wine and food references dominate many parts of the Fifty Shades books…wait, make that “appear in”. Often the references are simply “white wine” or “Sancerre” with no specific wine mentioned. One thought I had when perusing the list of references was that there was not much red wine! The author does seem to get around to it in the sequels, but come on, some of the sexiest wines are red wines. I wasnt surprised by the multiple champagne references in general, but there were specific references to Bollinger (1999 Grand Annee Rose makes multiple appearances…E.L. James is a Brit and they do love their Bolly…just watch James Bond movies) and Moet and Chandon. Also making the fizzy list is Prosecco, although it doesnt say if its frizzante or spumante in style…frizzante seems a bit too playful. There’s a reference to gin and tonic, two references to margaritas, oh, and five cosmo references (I guess they are still in).There are no beer references, not even craft beers. Orange juice, all by itself, is very popular, and occasional references to tea and coffee. What struck me as unusual though was that the story takes place in one of the premier wine producing regions of the United States – Washington – and there is no mention of Washington state wines.
Now back to the whites. Chablis gets mentioned. Chablis can be very sexy…Burgundies in general, white or red, can most certainly be, and often are on many lists of “most sexy wines”. Unfortunately, the page of the Chablis reference didn’t match up with either of the two oyster references…too bad — oysters and Chablis, classic and sexy. The Loire comes in with two references…Sancerre and Pouilly Fume, both fine expressions of sauvignon blanc. But the white wine that gets multiple references…pinot grigio. Fortunately, it wasn’t a specific reference where they said they were rocking out with Santa Margharita…talk about credibility killers! Pinot grigio is a nice and refreshing, sometimes zippy wine, but one doesn’t think of it by itself as terribly sexy, and certainly not dominant in its taste profile. I thought maybe pinot grigio was used since “grigio” means grey, but I don’t think it had anything to do with any theme. And as you will see in my following adaptation of that scene, I do take exception to it’s use. Or let’s put it this way…what consenting adults share between them is their business, but if its wine, it ought to be good.
“Hungry?” He asks.
Not for food, I say to myself. “Not particularly”.
“You must eat, Anastasia”, he chides. I know a great place near Olympia. We’ll stop there.
The restaurant is small and intimate, a wooden chalet in the middle of the forest. (Editor’s Note: Haven’t we learned from countless readings of children’s book that you don’t go into some place in the middle of the forest!?) The décor is rustic: random chairs and tables with gingham tablecloths, wild flowers in little vases. Cuisine Savauge it boasts above the door.
“I’ve not been here for a while. We don’t get a choice — they cook whatever they’ve caught and gathered.” He raises his eyebrows in mock horror, and I have to laugh. The waitress comes to take our drink order. She flushes when she sees Christian, avoiding eye contact with him. I think to myself, “She likes him! Its not just me!”
“Two glasses of pinot grigio”, Christian says with a voice of authority. (Another Editor’s Note: C’mon…a guy ordering two glasses of pinot grigio authoritatively?! What’s his next bossy order going to be…apple ‘tinis?)
I purse my lips, exasperated.
“What?”, he snaps.
“I wanted a Diet Coke”, I whisper.
His grey eyes narrow and he shakes his head. “The pinot grigio here is a decent wine. It will go well with the meal, whatever we get”, he says patiently.
Whatever we get?
He smiles his ‘dazzling head cocked to one side’ smile, and my stomach pole vaults over my spleen. I can’t help but reflect his glorious smile back at him. The waitress arrives with our glasses of wine and I immediately take a quick sip. She then brings us soup. We both stare at it dubiously.
“Nettle soup”, the waitress informs us before turning and flouncing back into the kitchen. I take a tentative taste…its delicious. Christian and I look up at each other at the same time with relief. I giggle and he cocks his head to one side.
“That’s a lovely sound” he murmurs…”not the giggle, the way you slurp your soup”. (Yet Another Editor’s Note: at this point, I took the liberty to edit out the part when Christian talks of Mrs. Robinson and how she seduced and trained him…Mrs. Robinson, really? The author couldn’t pick any other of a million or so last names for the older female seductress? Even Robertson would have been better)
The waitress soon returns with venison, but my appetite has vanished. What a revelation he just shared with me! I take a large slug of the pinot grigio…he’s right of course, it’s delicious. He’s so overwhelming, so alpha male… then he drops this bombshell on me. “I’m really not hungry, Christian” comes from my mouth but what I want to say is…I am reeling from your disclosure.
“Eat”, he says quietly, too quietly.
Reaching for my knife and fork, I tentatively cut into the venison. It’s very tasty. I then tentatively reach for the pinot grigio. He senses my hesitation.
“Drink. I am sensing your hesitation” he says less quietly.
“Well Christian, I am afraid to say this”.
“It is OK. You haven’t signed any contract yet. Now is the time to feel free to say something”.
“I am not sure I want this”.
“Yes you do…you don’t even know how much you want it, but I can sense it”.
“It’s a big step”, I murmur and I slice another piece of venison, holding it against my mouth, wanting to say something.
“It is. Anastasia, you have to go with your gut. Do the research. Read the contract. I’m happy to discuss any aspect. I really want to make this work. In fact, I’ve never wanted anything as much as I want this to work”.
“No no no, I don’t mean this type of relationship. That’s got me way more tingly than the pinot grigio! But it’s the pinot grigio I don’t want. I don’t want pinot grigio with venison!”
“I told you, you have to trust me and just let go…submit to me”.
“Yeah I know, but I’ve been to Hank Zona’s wine events and read his blog and watch his show. He is right! Pinot grigio will go great with whatever we order? With venison?!?! Are you kidding me?! I’m sorry dude, you play up this ‘man of exquisite taste’ demeanor, but we live in the Pacific Northwest where the food and wine rock. Trying to convince me that this is a great pairing only leads me to believe that you are a poser. If this is what you know about wine, I’m afraid to find out what you know about sex. ‘Laters baby’, indeed.”
I guess I will see the movie…on cable. I suspect there may be more specific product placements this time around.