A book focused on teens is not typically at the top of the list for an adult book club, but teens and adults alike have been fascinated by the world created by Suzanne Collins in The Hunger Games.
My book club, curious about the hype surrounding The Hunger Games trilogy and the corresponding movies, recently decided to dive into the books. We were eager to engage in a conversation about the series itself as well as twenty-first century teen literature compared to the literature of our own childhoods. Young-adult fiction seems to truly be having a moment right now in popular culture, and we wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
While reading the books gave each of us plenty of ammo for our upcoming meeting, the dark, grim themes of the series were also going to require a healthy dose of wine to lubricate the discussion. While reading about Katniss Everdeen, I began to think about what wines would pair best with the themes of the book, and then three key words came to mind that paved the way for the evening’s selections: bubbly, earthy and juicy.
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Let’s start with the bubbly. With Effie Trinket and the Capitol in mind, it’s hard to have a conversation about The Hunger Games without a little sparkling wine. After all, it’s always nice to have a taste of how the other half lives. In reading the books, many Capitol scenes seem to be taking place at some sort of version of the Met Ball, with high society figures wearing the most outlandish clothes imaginable while sipping delicious sparkling wine available only to them. To transport my club to the Capitol and the famous New York City party, I chose Martha Clara Brut, a lovely sparkling wine made only about an hour and a half outside New York City on the North Fork.
Next we take a trip to District 12 and explore an earthy wine, a wine that keeps us grounded and connected to the land, just as Katniss was. One wine varietal that is well known for its strong vegetal or earthy characteristics is Cabernet Franc. Think flavors of green vegetables, herbs, and soil. While you can now find Cabernet Franc produced all over the world, one place that has a rich history of creating fantastic Cabernet Franc wine is the Loire Valley of France. In the Loire Valley sits the region of Chinon and it was from there that my bottle of Cabernet Franc came, although, in the Old-World style it was not called Cabernet Franc, but rather named after the region, Chinon. I chose La Varenne Chinon for our book club, but if you can’t find that specific bottle, simply look for a Chinon at your local shop, and you’ll find a wonderfully earthy wine perfect for creating the atmosphere of District 12.
And finally the juicy. Considering the action and “juicy” moments within the text (yes, all the blood), it made sense to include a “juicy” wine such as Merlot. Merlot can often have a juicy, or very fruit-forward, and soft texture, and it’s these rich, round flavors that make many people think of a bloody steak (though not me, since I’m a vegetarian). I served a bottle of Chateau AD Francos, a 100% Merlot from the right bank of Bordeaux that was supple, round and very juicy.
Needless to say, my book club devoured the books, devoured the wine and enjoyed a conversation that spun off in many directions, including a trip down memory lane.
A Few Discussion Questions To Get You Started
- What books from your childhood do you think mirror the themes of The Hunger Games? Do you think they were more or less effective than this series?
- What did you think of the Cabernet Franc? Did you taste the wine’s earthy and vegetal flavors? Did it make you think of forest floor and the woods outside of District 12?
- Discuss the theme of violence in the books. What is the author trying to say about children and their place in violent situations.
*Already read The Hunger Games at a book club? Have friends over to watch the movies and enjoy the wine!