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  • Writer's pictureAllison Sheardy

Reading Between the Wines: The Summer Job

Welcome to a new (semi) regular series, Read Between the Wines, in which I review a book and suggest a wine pairing (it is a tough job but someone's gotta do it). I'm an avid reader, often reading one to two books a week. I mostly lean toward contemporary fiction, suspense, and, of course, stories that revolve around food and wine, both fiction and non.

I have to admit, I read this book back when it first came out and have been wanting to write this post ever since! I just finally took the time to do so. So, today I'm talking about The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent. I believe this was her debut novel, and I've gone on to read and enjoy her subsequent novels (including The Sweetest Revenge, which just came out this month).

The crux of the story is that the main character Birdy decides to impersonate her best friend Heather, after Heather ditches her summer job for a fling with a guy -- the job is as a sommelier at a high end Scottish resort. Birdy is in need of a job and a fresh start, so pretending to be Heather and get away for the summer seems to make perfect sense. Except...Heather is a Master of Wine (so of course, you can see why I was already hooked) and Birdy knows next to nothing about wine. Naturally, shenanigans ensue.

The blurb for the novel on Amazon reads, "Birdy has made a mistake. Everyone imagines running away from their life at some point. But Birdy has actually done it. And the life she's run into is her best friend Heather's. The only problem is, she hasn't told Heather. The summer job at the highland Scottish hotel that her world class wine-expert friend ditched turns out to be a lot more than Birdy bargained for. Can she survive a summer pretending to be her best friend? And can Birdy stop herself from falling for the first man she's ever actually liked, but who thinks she's someone else?"

The novel was funny and touching, and I think I read it in about a day. Of course, I especially enjoyed the parts that described the different wines that Birdy encounters, as well as the wine books she crams at night to study up. The novel ends with an event focused on wines of the UK, so naturally, I am pairing this book with English fizz.

I read the novel before I'd had the opportunity to try any English wines. They are scarce, especially in my local market, and I had a tough time sourcing any. That all changed with last year's trip to London for my WSET graduation (more on that here, if you're interested). During that trip, I had the chance to visit Gusbourne Estate in Kent. I, along with my dad and two fellow Diploma graduates, enjoyed a tour of the vineyard and production facility, along with a multi-course lunch paired with both still and sparkling Gusbourne wines. The entire experience was lovely, and so were the wines. One thing that stood out everywhere we went in London was how wine educated the staff was -- everyone was working on some level of WSET or the equivalent. It was a joy to talk with fellow wine lovers, and Gusbourne was no exception. If you've read other posts, you know I am a sucker for Blanc de Blancs style bubbles, and Gusbourne's was delightful -- nice weight and texture from the Chardonnay, but still very lively acidity and a fine mousse. Yum!

Some quick snaps from our visit to Gusbourne Estate.

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