Friday, September 26, 2014

Drinks with Reads: Summer of Long Knives with Riesling and Kir

Today Jim Snowden joins us for Drinks with Reads, pairing his book, Summer of Long Knives, with a cocktail of riesling wine and Kir. First a little about his book:

In the summer of 1936, the racial and political climate in Munich are growing tense, and Kommisar Rolf Wundt and his wife Klara are increasingly desperate to leave Nazi Germany while they still can. But when a member of the League of German Girls is found brutally murdered and posed in the yard of a dilapidated farmhouse, Rolf’s supervisor declares that they can’t leave until he’s solved the case. Rolf’s investigation leads him from the depths of the underground Communist movement to the heights of Germany’s elite Nazi society, exposing the cracks in Germany’s so-called unified society as well as the unspoken tensions in Rolf’s complicated marriage. Ultimately, long-buried secrets and overwhelming evidence are laid bare, but how can Rolf bring the killer to justice in a country devoid of justice? And how can he protect himself, his wife, and his former lover from the barbarism of a corrupt and power-hungry government?

And now Jim matches his book with a drink:

This was a tricky pick for me. When Kriminalkommissar Rolf Wundt drinks to get drunk, he drinks straight schnaps (which means something different to Germans than it does to Americans). When he drinks for pleasure, he prefers medium to dry rieslings, properly chilled. At Hermann Goering’s party, Rolf and his wife, Klara, sip champagne and try not to look disgusted by the company they’re forced to keep.  So I had to imagine what Rolf would go for if the mood for a mixed drink struck him.

Given Rolf’s tastes, I decided he’d like a riesling-based cocktail. He’s not a wine spritzer man (they’re not strong enough), and since Summer of Long Knives is set in…well…the summer of 1936, he wouldn’t plump for gl├╝hwein. What Rolf needs is a strong, cool, and refreshing beverage that mixes well with his favored Bavarian rieslings.

And so we come to Rolf’s favorite summer cocktail (a French one, ideal for annoying his superiors), the blanc-cassis, better known after 1945 as Kir. It’s a simple and delicious cocktail, easily quaffed on a hot day.


1/3 of a shot of creme de cassis (0.5 fluid ounces)
5 oz of chilled dry riesling

Pour the creme de cassis into a wine glass, then top up with dry riesling. Serve. 

Feel free to experiment with the exact ratio of creme de cassis to riesling. It’s a matter of taste.


  1. Love this drink! Can't wait to read the book. Thanks for a great post.

  2. I never thought of pairing drinks with the book, which I also have read. Very interesting! I like that you have thought of Rolf's habits when making your suggestion. Very appropriate.