Wine to Sip With Your Regency Romance

Wondering about which wines to pair with your Regency romance (or similar British historical romance)? Want to picture yourself sipping Champagne at a garden party or ball, enjoying a nice Bordeaux, or indulging in a decadent dessert wine while your favorite characters do the same? What do you want to drink while you’re reading about rakes, debutantes, fancy balls, liaisons, merry widows, gambling dens, drawing room gossip, or even perilous adventures? 

Here is a quick rundown of some of the most popular wines of the times, with some book pairings and recommendations too! 

Champagne: The Height of Regency Romance High Society

When you think of luxury and high-society wine in Regency romance, does Champagne immediately come to mind? While it’s not certain when Champagne became the go-to wine for balls and parties, we know King Henry VIII loved wines from the Champagne region (ok, so maybe that’s a reason NOT to drink Champagne), French royalty used it on important occasions beginning in at least the 1600s, and it was all the rage in 1700s-1800s England.

Regency hostesses wouldn’t dream of not serving Champagne at garden parties, balls, fancy dinners—anytime they had anyone to impress. They often created champagne cocktails with lemon, and added sugar to further sweeten it.

Champagnes to Pair With Your Regency Romances

  • For a high-society, luxury bottle, try Krug Grand Cuvee, “the fullest expression of Champagne.” The Winemaker notes that “blending so many different wines from different years lends a fullness of flavours and aromas that would be impossible to express with the wines of a single year. It is a complete orchestra playing together in harmony.” 
  • A still not cheap, but nice value Champagne is Duval-Leroy Brut Reserve ($54 on wine.com), which blends Pinots and Chardonnays. People love it for its consistency over the years and “perfect balance between finesse and power.” 
  • For excellent value, look no further than Kirkland Signature Brut Reserve ($20). And, yes, it’s actual Champagne under the Kirkland brand. From Reverse Wine Snob (one of my favorite wine blogs and a fantastic place to find great deals): “The non-vintage Kirkland Signature Champagne Brut begins with pleasing aromas of lime, lemon, apple, a bit of freshly baked bread and some floral notes. The wine tastes lovely with slightly creamy yet still crisp flavors of lemon zest, lime and green apple.”

Romances to Pair With Your Champagne

You can pair almost any romance book with Champagne! I’m thinking of pairing mine with Regency Romances full of fancy gatherings, or books that are simply light and delicious. A few that come to mind are

Bordeaux (or Claret): The Staple Red

Bordeaux and Claret come up all over the place in English historical romances. Claret’s not exactly on the shelf of your favorite wine shop waiting for you. But it’s typically is a red Bordeaux wine or a similar wine, and our Regency romance characters drink it like crazy.  There are tons of delectable Bordeaux reds out there, and I’m definitely more of a red-wine-with-my-book kind of person. Here are a few top-rated Bordeaux reds—luxury, nice value, and budget-friendly.

Luxury: Chateau Pape Clement 2020 ($100). This 50-50 full-bodied blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot collected scores from 94-98 from multiple well-known ratings gurus. Here’s what they say:

  • Aromas of rich cherries, cassis, burning embers, violets and dark chocolate introduce the 2020 Pape Clément, a medium to full-bodied, rich and fleshy wine that’s ripe, layered and generously extracted. 
  • Offers a deep purple hue to go with a powerful, concentrated profile displaying both red and black fruits, lots of spicy, chocolate, flowery incense nuances, full-bodied richness, and an almost salty, bloody character on the finish. 
  • Impressive, a really enjoyable, classically wrought but still full of concentration Pape Clément. Savory, there is nothing too exuberant in the fruits but it exudes deft confidence.

Nice Value: Chateau Fonbadet B de Fonbadet 2019 ($25). The winemaker notes of this blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, “Beautiful ruby-red color. The nose develops aromas of black fruits (plum, blackcurrant and cherry). Elegant and round in mouth, B de Fondabet expresses structure with mellow tannins. Nice balance.” 

Budget-Friendly: Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection Claret 2021 ($15). This is the one wine labeled “Claret” that I’ve seen out and about, including at the grocery store. 

You can find my favorite red blends (Bordeaux and otherwise) in my Best Red Blends (and Their Perfect Book Pairings) post. Enjoy!

Romances to Pair With Your Bordeaux

With Bordeaux wines and Claret playing classic roles in English Regency Romance Novels, pair them with those classic Regency Romances, such as:

Madeira: Rich and Varied

Madeira is a wine like no other. It is fine wine in extremis. Heat and air, both the sworn enemies of most wines and wine makers, conspire to turn madeira into one of the most enthralling of the world’s wines as well as the most resilient. Wines from the nineteenth and even the eighteenth centuries still retain an ethereal, youthful gloss, even after spending what is, in wine terms, an aeon in cask and bottle. Having gone through this extreme and often extensive ageing process, madeira is virtually indestructible. Once the cork is removed, the wine comes to no harm, even if the bottle is left on ullage for months, even for years on end. If ever there was a wine to take away with you to a desert island, this is it.”
― Richard Mayson, Madeira: The islands and their wines

When we think of Madeira, we think gorgeous island and famous fortified wines. But it does produces other kinds of wine. The primary grapes used in Madeira wine are Sercial (white, higher elevation, dry, tangy); Verdelho (white, medium-sweet to medium-dry); Bual/Boal (white, warmer locations, rich and sweet), Malvasia (rich and fortified). Other grapes are grown there and can produce some lovely blends. 

Broadbent Madeira offers various blends and dessert wines known for richness and full body (surprise surprise). One of the most popular is the Broadbent Rainwater Madeira, which is “smooth and gently sweet” and “shows good fresh-fruit sweetness built on Madeira’s sturdy core of tart, lemony acidity.” Wine Advocate noted, “The NV Rainwater Medium Dry is an attractive wine, displaying aromas of fresh walnuts, dates and orange peel. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, satiny textured and delicately sweet, with succulent acids, excellent definition and an elegantly middle-weight, drinkable profile that’s true to the category.”

For more info on Madeira wines, check out this post on Saucey

Romances to Pair With Your Madeira

Consider pairing your Madeira with romance that take place on Madeira or mention it. Jane Eyre instantly comes to mind, with her uncle hailing from the island and causing such an uproar in the plot. Even if it’s not a Regency novel, An Island in the Sun by Kate Frost highlights Madeira’s beauty and tells a fun story. 

Also consider pairing Madeira with books with some darkness and richness to go with the dark, rich Madeira. Possibilities include The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie by Jennifer Ashley, How to Love a Duke in Ten Days by Kerrigan Byrne, The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen by K.J. Charles, and One Race to Ruin by Cara Maxwell. 

Sherry for the Regency Romance Ladies

Sherry is another wine that isn’t as common now as it was historically. Interestingly, sherry is all over the place—it can be sweet, dry, fresh, aged, nutty, rich, and the list goes on. It’s highly alcoholic (15-22%) and is often enjoyed at the end or beginning of a meal, similar to Port. In historical English books, it’s usually the ladies who drink Sherry. There are several varieties of Sherry.

  • Most common is Fino Sherry, translated to “refined” and the driest variety. Manzanilla is a subcategory of Fino that’s produced in Andalusia, southern Spain. Fino and Manzanilla are similar in alcohol and sugar content.
  • Amontillado starts out as a Fino but then is fortified into a rich, dark wine. Amontillado can be served dry and can also be sweetened. It has a range of complex, savory flavors due to its longer aging process.
  • Palo Cortado is the most rare type of Sherry with mysterious origins (i.e. no one can agree on said origins), kind of an in-between Sherry or a lighter version of Oloroso Sherry.
  • Oloroso is dark, rich, and very highly alcoholic (18-22% ABV). It can be aged for decades and produces complex flavors; it’s also naturally dry but can be sweetened into dessert wine.

For Sherry recommendations, check out 14 Award-Winning Sherries to Try and Best Sherries: Top Bottles to Try

Romances to Pair With Your Sherry

A perfect pairing for Sherry is The Other Miss Bridgerton, one of the prequels to Julia Quinn’s famous Bridgerton Regency romance series (who can forget the sherry-spilling scene). 

Also, consider Sherry for romances with rich and varied characters. This makes me think of some of my favorite historical romance series, including The Ravenels (start with Cold-Hearted Rake) and The Hathaways (start with Mine Till Midnight) both by Lisa Kleypas; Sabrina Jeffries’ Duke Dynasty series; Eva Leigh’s Last Chance Scoundrels series; and Tracy Sumner’s League of Lords series.