Just over the Falls Church City border into the East Falls Church part of Arlington, Eileen McGervey is offering up three of life’s simple pleasures.
Since opening her Westlee-situated One More Page Books at the beginning of the year, McGervey has been selling not only books, but also wine and chocolates.
A small tabletop display presents the store’s gourmet chocolate selection, and lets customers buy from fair trade brands and pick up exotic chocolate bars (think ginger, wasabi and black sesame seeds, all coated in dark chocolate).
Tucked into a corner of the store, wine racks display dozens of wines bought from a wholesaler, generally in the $15-$20 range, not commonly found in grocery stores. These wines are under the constant scrutiny of staff members, who have tasted each one sold in the store.
“We’re constantly evaluating them against each other,” McGervey said.
Because they sell exotic chocolates and little-known wines, the staffers lets timid customers try before they buy with regular in-store tastings, are eager to make suggestions and assure customers that yes, even though putting chili pepper in a chocolate might sound unusual, it is actually delicious.
“Until you taste it, you just don’t know,” McGervey said.
According to McGervey, locals have made her book store their go-to wine shop, and aren’t afraid to let fellow customers know which are their favorites.
The One More Page Books staff members joke that all these chocolate and wine tastings make for one tough job, but it’s a job that makes them acutely aware of how the book-reading experience is enhanced by sipping a glass of wine or nibbling at bits of chocolate. For this expertise, we at the News-Press asked McGervey and her staff to make suggestions about wines and chocolates to pair with some of the store’s recent releases:
“The Taker” by Alma Katsu ($25)
Chilies and Cherries in Dark Chocolate by Chocolove ($5.25)
2006 Angeli Cuvee Alexander Valley Marietta ($24.29)
“The Taker” tells the story of Lanore McIlvrae, an immortal woman, and her interactions with Dr. Luke Findley, a doctor police bring the woman (a murder suspect) to see – and it doesn’t skimp on the scintillating details of her 200-years of life and love. For such a sensual and serious book, Terry Nebeker chose a chocolate that matches the tale in darkness and spice, the blending of sweet cherries and spicy chilies mimicking the sweetness and heat of this love story with a twist.
“It’s a little dangerous,” Nebeker said.
For such a robust narrative, she decided a big, bold red wine would be the perfect match. Her wine pick came easy, as they were first introduced to the Marietta as they were finishing the advance reader of “The Taker.” In fact, you can hear staffers at One More Page refer to the wine by the name they have adopted for it, The Taker Wine.
“Maine” by J. Courtney Sullivan ($25.95)
Bapchi’s Caramel Toffee by Vosges ($7.50)
2009 Zaca Mesa Viognier ($16.25)
Katie Fransen considers “Maine” an ideal beach read, and it is one of her favorite books from this past summer. The plot centers on four women of the same family who come and go through a beach house in Cape Neddick, Maine, focusing on their experiences, their differences and their surprising similarities.
For such a light, enjoyable read, Fransen picked an equally light wine in the Viognier, a delicate and even slightly fizzy drink that she feels complements the book well.
Her chocolate pick has much to do with not only the smile-inducing qualities of the candy bar – “The Bapchi is so fun,” Fransen said – but also the way that the combined toffee and chocolate are so different. Just like the book’s characters, the crunchy toffee and the smooth chocolate seem so dissimilar, but combine so well.
“It fits in together, like the family,” Fransen said.
“Turn Right at Machu Picchu” by Mark Adams ($26.95)
Coffee and Dark Chocolate by Theo ($3.99)
2010 Yllum Torrontes ($14.50)
Drawing upon her own experiences traveling to Machu Picchu, Eileen McGervey tried to recreate the tastes of her journey to complement the travel book, a telling of the history of the Lost City through a journalist’s exploration.
McGervey remembers how travelers were given cocoa leaves to stave off altitude sickness while trekking the city’s heights, and tried to recreate that flavor and sensation with her coffee and dark chocolate pick.
“You keep it in your mouth, and you taste it and savor it,” McGervey said, not unlike the candy bar.
And when considering the warm climate in the Machu Picchu region, she picked a light and fruity wine because the thought of drinking anything heavy on her trip would be “too much.”
“It’s a unique blend to go with a unique place,” McGervey said.