Mention of wines consumed in E L James's Fifty Shades Freed is superficial. There are only two named wines, both which have appeared in the previous two books. Bollinger Grande Année Rosé 1999 makes three appearances in Freed and Roederer Cristal Champagne twice. Other wines mentioned are a Sancerre, a Pouilly-Fumé and a Frascati, plus two Sauvignon Blancs, one white wine and two just mentioned as ‘wine’.
Anastasia, who is narrating the story, states in Fifty Shades Darker “I know nothing about wine”, and that may also be true of author E L James.
Although the books are set mostly in the US wine producing states of Washington and Oregon there are no local wines, and only two wines from the US, both from Alban Vineyards in California. European wines make 59% of all the wines mentioned in the trilogy, and when those whose origins can’t be identified are removed, 88% are European.
The still wines mentioned: Sancerre, Chablis, and Pouilly Fumé have aspirational names familiar to casual drinkers – at least those in Britain. I don’t find the choice of wines convincing for a rich sophisticated American connoisseur. E L James is British and resident in England. If the author was American or knew about wines then no doubt Christian Grey’s cellar would be stocked with Oregon, Washington and California wines as well as expensive Europeans, and their names would be given.
Given Christian’s taste for French wines it is rather surprising that when he takes Ana to the intimate ‘Le Pictotan’ restaurant—whose name gives the impression of being French—he orders an Australian shiraz. But perhaps, as a red blooded passionate man, he needs a break from all the fish and chicken dishes he’s been having with Ana, and he fancies a big red wine after all the whites, and floggings, they’ve shared.
The choice and placing of the wines at the charity ball doesn’t ring true. If the cheese course is to be served last, after the dessert course and sweet wine, it seems odd to serve a dry red wine instead of a Port, Sauternes or other sweetie. And it seems odd to serve another Grenache when the meat course wine was Grenache.
Menu for a Fifty Shades Dinner
Foods eaten in the Fifty Shades Trilogy come mostly from the sea, with poultry the second. The most popular wines are Sauvignon Blanc and Champagne with Europe mainly the source.
A Fifty Shades Menu combining the most popular foods and wines could be
Aperitif: Bollinger Grande Année Rosé 1999, or alternatively any pink Champagne.
Smoked Salmon: Frascati. There are many bottling available of this white Italian wine, a blend of Malvasia and Trebbiano, and it is widely available. Alternatively choose Pinot Grigio which is also a favourite of Ana and Christian.
Coq au Vin (made with Australian Shiraz): Domaine Andre Neveu ‘les longues fins’ Sancerre, or any Sauvignon Blanc.
Cheeses: Alban Vineyards Estate Grenache 2006. Or any red Grenache.
Tarte Tatin: Klein Constantia ‘Vin de Constance’ 2004 or any sweet Muscat.
Have you been to a 50 Shades themed dinner, or do you intend to host one? Do tell all on the forum.
Peter F May is the author of Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape: Odd Wines from Around the World which features more than 100 wine labels and the stories behind them, and PINOTAGE: Behind the Legends of South Africa’s Own Wine which tells the story behind the Pinotage wine and grape, also available for the Kindle, Nook and iPad.