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Manasi Subramaniam

Manasi Subramaniam is Commissioning Editor at HarperCollins India. These views are her own. She blogs at

If wine were books: Pairings for the literary gourmet

ight, flavourful dishes with delicate wines: "You have wakened not out of sleep, but into a prior dream, and that dream lies within another, and so on, to infinity, which is the number of grains of sand. The path that you are to take is endless, and you will die before you have truly awakened." When you lightly sauté pressed garlic in olive oil, its scent will remind you of Borges. Add pasta and stir in The Immortals. You will dream of mazes and dance with devils if you add a hint of parsley and read A Universal History of Infamy. The Borgesian conundrum will make you wonder if you made the pasta or if the pasta made you.

Silky whites, like Chardonnays, for gravy-based meals: "Perhaps only people who are capable of real togetherness have that look of being alone in the universe. The others have a certain stickiness, they stick to the mass." When you stir a lush sauce and watch it froth heavily into brackish desire, pull out D.H. Lawrence. Lady Chatterley's Lover is a book for all sorts of nights: the lonely ones and the intimate ones. Let it seep into you — the book, I mean, not the gravy — and let it fill your heart with the multiple shapes that love can take.

Rieslings to tame the heat of spice: "I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed / And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane. / (I think I made you up inside my head.)" Wrap the richness of a spicy meal with the tired longings of Sylvia Plath. She'll tease the pepper right out with her acid charm. Ariel is perfect for the tangy sweetness of the Riesling. If you choose, instead, the neuroses of a drier wine, look no further than The Bell Jar.

The pertness of a rich rose for cheese: "The evening's the best part of the day. You've done your day's work. Now you can put your feet up and enjoy it." Nothing will enhance the texture of cheese better than the oaky richness of The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. Cheese is your accomplice when you avoid the drudgery of facing your emotions, Ishiguro your guide. These are your perfect companions if procrastination is your game.

An earthy, rustic Italian red for warm bread. “Love’s mysteries in souls do grow, / But yet the body is his book.” Dip bread in balsamic vinegar and the poetry of John Donne. If it’s the right kind of bread, any metaphysical poet will do.

ight-bodied reds for savoury delicacies: "And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer." The lavish lure of Scott Fitzgerald will perfectly balance any midweek mood when paired with the right meal. For those pleasant summer evenings of camaraderie, the blustering youth of a savoury will clear your palate like Nick Carraway and the middle-aged rambunctiousness of a rich red wine will invigourate your senses like Jay Gatsby.

An earthy, rustic Italian red for warm bread. "Love's mysteries in souls do grow, / But yet the body is his book." Dip bread in balsamic vinegar and the poetry of John Donne. If it's the right kind of bread, any metaphysical poet will do. Slather butter if you must, and say out loud, "I am two fools, I know, / For loving, and for saying so."

Fruity wines for fruity desserts: "People do not die for us immediately, but remain bathed in a sort of aura of life, which bears no relation to true immortality but through which they continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as when they were alive. It is as though they were traveling abroad." Marcel Proust will remind you of the sort of life that is best worth living just as a custard and a fortified sherry will emphasise the sweetness of fruit without the necessity for added sugar. For best results, ensure that the wine is sweeter than the dessert and that Proust is wiser than you.

Champagne and bubbles for salty meals: "In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways." Chilled champagne will work best for Edith Wharton's quiet optimism. Pair the nuanced insights of The Age of Innocence with the fizzy sharpness of a sparkling wine and balance the book's sorrow's with the oceanic saltiness of a plate of hors d'oeuvres and the world is yours.

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