★★★★★ Wine and romance have always inextricably linked. Yeats once wrote, “Wine enters through the mouth/Love the eyes/I raise the glass to my mouth/I look at you/I sigh.” Joye Emmens’s latest book, Crush: A Tale of Two Vineyards, toasts the deep and vital history of winemaking (and drinking) and, like Yeats, highlights the undeniable chemistry between wine and romance. Olivia is one research program away from her master’s degree when she’s assigned to show a dashing Frenchman around the biodynamic vineyards of California. A fifth-generation winemaker, Lucien is kind and handsome, but more importantly he shares Olivia’s singular passion for the art of wine. Despite this bond, their relationship must prove that it can withstand wildly different landscapes, endless stretches of time, and untold pressure—just the ingredients you need to make a bottle of fine wine.
Late in the novel, a character praises a piece of art by saying, “The detail draws you into the scene.” The same sentiment applies to Crush. Wines, delicate and radiant, shine through Emmens’s descriptions. In fact, everything is delicious in her world: the sun is “warm rose and apricot”, dusty paths are speckled with crushed chamomile—even kisses are laced with boysenberry and spice. Reading Crush felt like the first warm day after a long winter; though motions are familiar, the bubbling romance and anticipation of things to come lifts your spirits. Speaking of spirits, Emmens’s knowledge of wine runs deep, but her explanations of biodynamic, organic, and other professional nomenclature is never condescending. You’ll emerge from the golden world of Clos de l’Harmonie a little more in love with wine. Whatever your drink preference, odds are you’ll feel satiated after having read Crush.