Decanting a Murder
A Sommelier Mystery, #1
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Date of Publication: May 8, 2016
Number of pages: 264
Cover Artist: Pierre Droal/Deborah Wolfe Ltd.
Katie Stillwell focuses on two things in her life: work and practicing for her Sommelier Certification with her blind tasting group. The exam was supposed to be the hardest part of her week, but that was before a body was found at an exclusive Napa Valley winery party.
When all the evidence points to Katie’s best friend, the outspoken and independent Tessa, Katie drops everything to clear Tessa’s name. Using her deductive wine skills, she tries to track down the real killer. But when repeated attempts are made on her life, Katie discovers that everyone’s secrets must be uncorked—including her own.
Every chapter in Decanting a Murder has a wine paired with it, which means there are thirty-two wines to go along with the thirty-two chapters.
When I first started working on the book, I knew that wine would be a main focus of the story but I wasn’t sure how much. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that my main character would be a sommelier and the book would be set in Napa Valley, but it was only after I finished writing that the idea arrived to pair each chapter with a wine.
Sommeliers in restaurants help pair your meal with the perfect wine to accentuate the flavors. For example, Sauvignon Blanc complements light seafood dishes while Chardonnay pairs well with rich seafood. I applied this pairing idea to Decanting a Murder and provided a wine that went along with each chapter for a specific reason.
Chapter One is paired with Champagne because, as stated with the pairing in the book, it’s “ideal as an aperitif to get you started.” Champagne is a great aperitif to enjoy before a meal or perhaps during a cocktail hour. It starts the evening off nicely which is why I chose to start the book with Champagne.
To jump ahead to later in the book, Chapter Fourteen is paired with a Zinfandel because it’s “a rich and jammy wine filled with promise and intrigue.” Chapter Fourteen also has a lot of promise and intrigue, but I don’t want to reveal any spoilers so I’ll leave it at that.
Some pairings may not be as obvious, such as Chapter Nineteen. I paired this particular chapter with Chianti Classico and listed the reason as, “an Italian wine made from the Sangiovese grape, pairs well with game.” The reason for the pairing might become apparent as the reader goes through the chapter, and it might not. It’s all part of the fun of learning more about wine and enjoying wine for different reasons.
I decided not to list specific wineries in the pairings because I wanted readers to be able to apply their own favorite wineries or at least be able to select wines from the stores in their area. By listing varietal and location only, the specific winery is up to each reader!
I hope readers enjoy the pairings as they read along, but I would recommend only drinking one or two while reading, especially if they are fast readers. After all, there’s a mystery to be solved.
Nadine Nettmann, a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, is always on the lookout for great wines and the stories behind them. She has traveled to wine regions around the world including Chile, South Africa, Spain, Germany, and every region in France. When she’s not visiting wine regions or dreaming up new mysteries, her travel articles have appeared in AAA Hawaii, New Mexico Journey, Modern Luxury Hawaii, and Inspirato. Nadine is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. She lives in California with her husband.
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