Fall is my favorite time of year—even in Northern California, famous for its lack of seasons. Instead we have leaf-roll virus in the vineyards and its beautiful results: acres upon acres of post-harvest vines in red, gold and brown. Sometimes we have early rains, too, and the grass on the hills begins to turn from golden brown to fresh green. I love the wet, green winter grass, but even after years of living here it still strikes me as a delightful reversal.
My favorite fall book never changes: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. I reread it every year, and I wrote about it on my Ploughshares blog awhile back. As you read this with your book club—maybe on a night when the first dry chill of fall is just a clean hint in your nose or at the roots of your hair—pop open a bottle of a hearty, spicy red wine, like Syrah or Zinfandel from Rosenblum Cellars.
Either one pairs great with those frozen mini-quiches you can get in bulk at Costco—the kind of yummy convenience that saves your cooking time for reading. And these wines have a little something unexpected, too—a depth of flavor and character. Syrah will surprise you with black pepper notes, Zin with the lingering power of its jam-like fruit. Every sip reveals a little more, sort of the way every time I read Something Wicked This Way Comes it strikes me a little differently: here the mother’s plight, with her lonely marriage to an older man; here the schoolteacher’s with her fading fantasy of children; here the father, with his ever-mortal breath.