Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Looking at Life through Rosé-Colored Glasses

It sounds so idyllic. You love rosé wine. You love France. So you leave your life in London behind, start flogging rosé to skeptical French drinkers in busy market squares, and hope to learn enough to buy a bar that will specialize in the pink stuff.

As Jamie Ivey, his wife Tanya, and friend Peter discovered, however, things are never quite as idyllic as we imagine they might be.

Welcome to the June edition of the Wine Book Club, hosted this month by Kori from the Wine Peeps blog. Our book selection for this month was Jamie Ivey's La Vie en Rosé, a book that tells the tale of Ivey's continuing obsession with rosé wines.

I enjoyed this book--it was perfect escape reading, and it convinced me that I do not ever want to open a wine bar in France. Getting to experience the highs and lows of the process--from Ivey's halting attempts to communicate with the locals (all of whom know a great deal about wine) to the moment they plunk down money on a piece of property--was like watching friends dive off a very high cliff into formidably deep waters. I appreciated the bravery of what they did, but I have no intention of doing it myself.

La Vie en Rosé is full of the sights and sounds of the southern French countryside. From local festivals celebrating garlic to visits with local vignerons, Ivey is adept at bringing a scene to life in all its variety and with a fair bit of humor. My favorite parts were about the reaction that the French had to they Iveys' plans to sell nothing but rosé wine. Some were stunned, many thought the wine would be too expensive to appeal to people used to buying bulk wine from the local co-op, and others were incredulous. In spite of the odds, and in the face of lukewarm success, the Iveys remained committed to their mission to celebrate rosé.

The book was less about the wine than it was about French attitudes towards wine and food, and about the difficulties that anyone faces when they try to fit into a new culture. So if you're looking for a book that tells you a lot about rosé wine you may be disappointed. If, on the other hand, you want an up-close account of immersion in French food and wine culture, you will probably enjoy this book immensely.

One thing to note: Ivey is British, and this means that his sense of humor is decidedly British as well. His tone may strike some readers as offbeat and ironic. But if you like Peter Mayle's stories of life in Provence, then Ivey's writing style will be right up your alley.

This is the kind of book to pack into your bag when you're taking a weekend trip, or just want some pleasant, escapist reading with a wine-related theme. Thanks again to Kori for hosting us and I'll see you back here at the end of July with my reactions to another wine-related book.


Taster B said...

sounds like a good read. I'll have to put this on my list--I love British humor!

Claire said...

I'm adding this to my to-read list. Thanks!

Dr. Debs said...

I hope you both enjoy it. Very good fantasy reading!

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