At Phinney Ridge’s newest wine shop, a “pairing” consists of a bottle of wine and a compatible book—mostly fiction. Proprietor Kim Kent, an MFA grad with a long tenure working in restaurants, includes her own notes.
Drink Books, which opened last week at 5817 Phinney Avenue North, invites visitors to savor some well-crafted prose with the same relish they might reserve for a frizzante natural red Lambrusco from Italy’s Emilia region. In other words—a combination book and bottle shop that couldn’t be more perfectly Seattle.
Like so many wine-drinking enterprises, it started as a book club. Back when Kent worked at Molly’s Bottle Shop in Ballard, she launched Book Cru, a monthly subscription of her wine-and-prose pairings. “My process is book first and then wine,” says Kent. She favors works by authors who identify as women or nonbinary, and “linguistically driven” works of fiction that tend toward the unconventional.
In October, Book Cru members received Sisters by Daisy Johnson and a biodynamic red blend from Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe. A gothic-style thriller deserved something equally absorbing—“full-bodied and dark, but also very soft,” says Kent.
Visitors can stop by the spare white space for the Book Cru monthly pairing, or peruse the books (roughly 40) and bottles (way more, arranged from light to fuller-bodied reds) that line the shelves and avail themselves of Kent’s advice on literary pairings.
A lifetime reader, Kent earned her masters in fiction and worked as a server at places like Delancey and Manolin, absorbing wine knowledge as she dispensed hospitality. Her stint at Molly’s Bottle Shop furthered that education as it gave rise to the Book Cru. It also gave rise to her business partnership with Emily Schikora, a fellow wine-drinking bibliophile who owns Editor Consignment.
Seattle is on track to gain a high-profile bookstore–slash–beer bottle shop early next year, but its wine counterpart is as experimental as Kent’s taste in fiction; the building it occupies is destined to be torn down in a few years. After that, who knows how the narrative will unfold. But until then, she says, “What a cool idea to have this space be something fun for its last hurrah.”