Pinot and Prose is a monthly column exploring great books and the drinks to enjoy them with. Why should food get all the fun?
From the merchant houses of Bilabo and Nantes, to the battlefields of Honduras and India, to the halls of the Palacio Real and the Château de Versailles, this Pulitzer Prize nominated book highlights how, “the American nation was born as the centerpiece of an international coalition, which together worked to defeat a common adversary.” (336)
Larrie D. Ferreiro is a professor of history and engineering, as well as a U.S. Navy veteran who did exchange service with the Marine Nationale. He brings all of this training to bear on Brothers at Arms.
Ferreiro deftly weaves a narrative that investigates European contributions big and small. Whether its the high court intrigues of German power politics, or the role of a London transvestite, Ferreiro argues the United States has many people to thank around the world for its independence.
A lot of what Ferreiro narrates has already been explored in more niche monographs, but the strength of his book is its ability to weave earlier works into an excellent piece of synthesis history.
Brothers at Arms is a solid piece of scholarship, and anyone interested in a more holistic understanding of the War of Independence would be well served to pick it up.
In honor of the Franco-Spanish partnership that gave birth to the United States, I paired Brothers in Arms with a 2011 Marqués de Riscal Reserva from Rioja, Spain. This mainly tempranillo-based wine is aged for two years in American oak barrels, and Marqués de Riscal was the first non-French winery to win the Diplôme d’Honneur at the Exposition de Bordeaux. The winery is also only seventy miles from the port of Bilbao, where no less than 11,000 pairs of shoes, 30,000 uniforms, and 200,000 pounds of saltpeter — for gun powder production — were shipped to the Continental Army.
The wine itself is medium red in color and it’s fairly aromatic. The sour cherry bouquet matches the wines flavor. You also get a bit of black pepper, and the American oak definitely lends a bit of flavor as well. It’s well balanced, with medium acidity and is not too tannic.
Overall, this wine is quite good, and besides Brothers in Arms, it would go well with a ham or a simple lamb roast. So, get a bottle, and raise a glass to Carlos III, Louis XVI, and the hundreds of thousands of people around the world that helped the United States gain independence.