Book Clubs, Food and Wine: August

Book Clubs, Food and Wine:  August

A monthly blog

Jan Penhorwood, wine consultant at the Langley store.

Discuss Ian McEwan’s superb book “Saturday” and serve a Mediterranean fish stew.

Henry, the central character in this novel, makes fish stew. By day Henry is a neurosurgeon but as a home cook he loves to make one pot meals that he “throws together” – without any of his surgeon’s precision.

The events of this novel take place in a single day. Dr. Henry Perowne wakes at dawn on this Saturday thinking of his normal weekend activities with friends and family. He does not know- none of us can- that he is going to lose control of his entire life a few hours later. A peace march, a missed appointment, a car crash, road rage and ultimately terror ensue.

Depending upon the type of fish or shellfish you use to make your stew you might choose a low tannin red, a rosé or more likely, a white wine.


Popular wisdom holds that the tannins in red wine can, when served with fish, intensify the fishy taste and create an unpleasant aftertaste. One often hears that only white or rosé wines can pair successfully with fish. Research has shown that a compound in the fish reacts to the extra iron in red wines triggering a decaying fish smell. (

But salmon and other rich and meaty fish could pair well with a light red wine. Perhaps a Cinsault or a Beaujolais. If you haven’t heard of or tried a Cinsault, do so. Cinsault delivers lots of flavour (raspberry, tart cherry) along with light-body and low tannins. Here are a couple of suggestions:

For a firm-fleshed fish like halibut try a chilled white Rhône blend (and add some to the pot) then wait for the halibut to simmer. … I love white wines year-round but particularly in the summer.

Another Côtes de Provence rosé (like last month's) would pair well with a tender and flaky fish like sole or cod or shellfish.

…September preview - a hard-boiled detective novel with some steak on the BBQ