Author – Michele Gargiulo
Pages – 132
Publishing Information – Sommelier Stories Press, October 2022.
A few weeks ago, sommelier* Michele Gargiulo approached me to review her book, Pairing Paws: Dog Breeds and their Spirit Wines. This was a really novel opportunity to review a book a little different than the usual fiction or history and nature books I usually give the low-down on. Half of the profits of the book also go to animal shelters!
* A sommelier is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional. They specialize in all aspects of wine service as well as pairing wines and foods. Or in this case, dogs breeds!
So, before I give you my thoughts, what is the book about? Who better to tell you than the author herself:
Ever wonder what wine to pair with something you had no intention of eating? As a professional Sommelier, I have taken the time to pair something unusual, and inedible (I hope not, anyway!), to our favorite beverage (wine). This book explores how to pair the personality and soul of a wine with well-known dog breeds. Dogs have distinctive personalities, they vary based on breed and even individual, just as wines vary year to year, location to location. Wine is often taken too seriously. To make wine what it is truly about, fun and happiness, I decided to pair them to the creatures who are amongst the most fun and happy in the world.
Being part of a reading community, we sure do love our comforts. Sometimes that means a comfy chair, soft blanket or a hot cup of cocoa.
What I also see a lot of love for amongst readers are cats, dogs and wine. The latter two combine surprisingly well here for a truly charming book that was a real delight to experience.
You’ll immediately notice how professionally presented this book is; the quality of the photographs, the design and style, the editing and writing, the fun and relaxed vibe. Although I read the ebook version and still had a lot of fun, you can see that this book would be perfect as a coffee table or kitchen-stand book for display. It is made to be looked at with admiring glances.
As you may have gathered from the blurb, this is a book that pairs the personalities of wines and of dog breeds, and I found the idea really fun and quirky. Rather than being just a fun idea, this actually works really well in practice, and it’s obvious that a lot of thought has gone into which pairings are made.
Of course, sommelier-author Michele Gargiulo achieves this because she knows a lot about both and passes along just enough of her wisdom to teach you a thing or two whilst keeping things upbeat, energetic and to-the-point. In this way the book is really accessible! She begins each entry by giving us a little background into both the dog breed and the wine, and how their personalities match.
I love the closing sentences Michele presents, in which she recommends tasty food to pair with the wine, usually in a comforting situation with your dog in attendance. For example: I recommend enjoying this wine with smoked ham and cheese while watching romantic comedies and doing your best to avoid the begging gaze of your little furry friend.
Of course, although this book will appeal to lovers of both wine and dogs, you don’t have to know a lot about either, or even care about both, to enjoy it. That’s why it’s so accessible. Dog lovers will adore the pictures. Wine enthusiasts will be interested to discover some new wines from a successful expert in her field.
As someone who knows a lot about dogs (less about wine – although I do appreciate a Cabernet Sauvignon and at Christmas a nice bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape) I really enjoyed reading Pairing Paws and it’s made me want to broaden my wine-tasting horizons, especially next time I have the opportunity to dine out somewhere with an extensive wine list. Maybe there’ll be one of the wines featured in this book?!
There’s a relaxing quality to flicking through the pages that will probably make you want to give a cuddle to a dog and/or sample a quality glass of wine, and as mentioned above, it is an absolutely perfect addition to your kitchen or coffee table if you have one.
I must have sat here for much longer than I should have deciding which pages to share with you as a little taster, because all the photographs are absolutely fantastic and the rescue dogs pictured all just make you want to give them a huge hug. They’re beautiful. I hope the pages I’ve selected through the review showcase a little of what this book has to offer.
About the Author
Michele Gargiulo is currently the Wine and Beverage Director at the Fearless Restaurant Group, which encompasses 10 different restaurants in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Previously she was at the Four Seasons Philadelphia, working at the Jean Georges restaurant as their Sommelier.
She is a Certified Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers, a WSET Diploma student (currently Advanced), a Certified Sake Advisor from the Sake School of America, an Executive Bourbon Steward from the Stave and Thief Society, and a Certified Specialist of Wine from the Society of Wine Educators.
She graduated from The Culinary Institute of America. Michele was named amongst Philly Mag’s New Faces of Wine in 2017 and was written about in a few other magazines, as well as many press appearances on news stations. She is among the younger Sommeliers in the area, as well as one of the few females in the industry.
She has made her career about making wine more approachable and fun for those who are too intimidated to learn more. She often pairs wine with things that others would not think to, like art, music, feelings, and now, dogs and cats!
You can learn more about her on her personal website: www.michelegargiulo.com
Half of all profits will be donated to shelters and animal rescues in Philadelphia.
Pairing Paws at Barnes and Noble