Mysteries and Wine: The Perfect Blend

Dying on the Vine has been out for three days, and we’re still celebrating! We’re toasting Marla’s wine-country mystery by sharing what wine would pair perfectly with each of our series. And since our friend Nadine Nettmann is not only a mystery writer but a Certified Sommelier, we couldn’t resist asking her to chime in on the topic. Bottoms up!

 Nadine Nettmann

CotC Word balloonsWhile every chapter in the Sommelier Mystery Series is paired with a wine recommendation, it took me a little time to think of a pairing for the entire series. There are only two books so far (the second one, Uncorking a Lie, releases next month) but I knew that I wanted a California wine to represent the location of the series and one with contrasting qualities to represent the happy moments in the books as well as the drama, intrigue, and of course, murder. And then it came to me. Zinfandel. This red wine has a sweet jammy quality, flavors of raspberry and strawberry, and also varying levels of spice, depending on the wine region. It’s a perfect pairing, and a delicious one, too.

Marla Cooper

CotC Marla Cooper

Dying on the Vine is set in the California wine country, and I mention zinfandel (my favorite varietal) an embarrassing number of times. If you like a spicy zin as much as I do, you should go ahead and pour yourself a glass before you settle in, because you’re going to succumb to the power of suggestion eventually. But my official wine pairing for my Destination Wedding Mystery Series would have to be champagne — because no wedding is complete without it! So pour yourself a glass of bubbly and join the festivities.

Cynthia Kuhn


May we suggest a glass of Château Ruthersford? The winery happens to be owned by the family of Tad Ruthersford, one of the professors in The Semester of Our Discontent. The brand is elegant and pricey (like Stonedale University itself) and can be unexpectedly cheeky (like our amateur sleuth, Lila Maclean). Whether you choose the sauvignon blanc or the cabernet, Lila recommends (though she fully anticipates gasps from serious wine lovers and apologizes beforehand) that it be served with a generous handful of ice cubes. Cheers!

Kellye Garrett


Confession: I’m not a huge alcohol drinker so I had to get a little—okay a lot of—assistance with this one. The Detective by Day series is set in Hollywood where image is everything. On the other hand, the story isn’t set in rich people Hollywood where everyone has a $10 million house and a 10 million person entourage. This is the no-frills version where folks are faking it but not necessarily making it. My main character is semi-famous but she’s also mega-broke. So when you read Hollywood Homicide when it’s out in August, definitely have a glass of French Rose ready to pour. It shows well but you can also get a bottle for $10!

Ellen Byron


Chardonnay is the go-to wine for Maggie Crozat, heroine of my Cajun Country Mystery series, and for readers as well. Yes, Sauvignon Blanc would be a more sophisticated choice, but it’s a bit of a dull companion for these books. When you’re pairing a vin with the strong, complex flavors of Cajun-Creole cuisine, why gravitate toward some pale, wan companion? But if the going gets tough, do what any good Louisiana guy or gal would do: shove aside the wine and go straight for the bourbon.

Vickie Fee

vickieDixie, Tennessee isn’t exactly in wine country. But when tracking down killers, Liv and Di can work up a mighty thirst — and sometimes sweet iced tea just doesn’t cut it. The best friends and amateur sleuths have been known, at times, to imbibe strawberry daiquiris by the blender full, fishbowl-sized servings of margaritas, and merlot by the magnum. However, if you’re looking for a quintessentially “Dixie” wine to sip while reading about Liv & Di’s adventures, a wine of unknown vintage dispensed from a box with a spigot is probably your best bet. Fruity notes, afterburn, and extremely budget friendly. Enjoy!

A big thank you to Nadine for stopping by! Be sure to check out her Sommelier Mysteries, including Decanting a Murder and Uncorking a Lie (Midnight Ink).

Your turn. What are some of your favorite things to drink when curled up with you favorite book? Comment below!

21 thoughts on “Mysteries and Wine: The Perfect Blend

  1. I am with Nadine and Marla: a spicy zinfandel from California is my preferred wine with a meal or a good mystery book! Congratulations Marla on the release of Dying on the Vine!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I just tried it yesterday here in nyc, with my 20-something daughter. The champagne was 19 dollars a glass and the Proseco was only 11. I didn’t even notice the difference!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m with Kelley, I’m not a big alcohol drinker. My drink of choice? Water. How boring am I? I do have a glass of fruit juice with breakfast, but that’s about it.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m with you, Mark. I like alcoholic beverages, but honestly don’t drink them that often. I drink at least 10 gallons of coffee for every sip of wine I take!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I save the wine for special dinners and occasions. Like Kellye and Mark, I’m don’t drink a lot of alcoholic beverages — example: I was touring the vineyard at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, and after a thorough wine tasting where I decided everything I tasted was ambrosia, I came home with a half case of North Carolina’s famous (?) champagne. My Grandmother always loved champagne and would bring it out for celebrations, so she took it off my hands. When I’m reading, nothing makes me happier than a nice chai tea latte. I do like Nadine’s Zinfandel recommendation.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I do enjoy an occasional glass (or more likely–bottle!) of wine, my go-to drink (other than gallons of coffee like Vickie) is a good craft beer or three. The only beer I’m not crazy about are IPAs. They’re too bitter for me. Give me a good hefeweizen or a brown ale and I’m happy.

    As far as wine goes, I prefer white over red. Pinot Grigio is probably my favorite.

    I hope to see all of you at Malice in a couple of weeks!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Joyce, I’m not too much of a beer drinker, but I like one on occasion with BBQ! Malice is one of the occasions I indulge, but according to latest Malice newsletter the bar in the lobby at Hyatt Bethesda is closed for renovations. Whatever will we do?!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m a Pignot Grigio girl. My characters in FL drink sugary tropical beverages, Arnie Palmers, and Scotch. However, there’s a bottle of cheap, super-sweet sherry available in every condo kitchen cupboard.

    Liked by 2 people

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