Shane Stout is a man with many passions. He loves classical music, history, good Scotch, barbecue and wine, and he is a man who deeply enjoys learning.
His wife, Tami, says that when Shane focuses on something, whether it’s a barbecue recipe or the works of Bach, he studies and researches until he perfects his understanding.
Stout lives in Charlotte, and he works for one of the large banks (he’d rather not say which one). He’s an efficiency expert, so planning and researching projects is what he does. I met him when he was a student in a very challenging wine class I was teaching. This is a guy who doesn’t shy away from complex information.
An avid Anglophile, Stout wanted to immerse himself in Shakespeare, reading and in some cases re-reading all of Shakespeare’s writings. To really dig into time and history, he decided to pair his love of wine with the project by pairing the wines mentioned in Shakespeare as he read.
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“The stories of Shakespeare are delightful,” he says. “They run the gamut. All manner of humanity is in Shakespeare. He covers war, love, death, tragedy, joy; there are weddings, funerals, all sorts of interesting things going on. The characters are extraordinary.”
And so Stout explored. When reading “Henry IV,” he sipped sherry while Falstaff extolled the virtues of sack. Sack is a historical term for fortified wine imported to England from Spain or the Canary Islands, and Sherris Sack likely evolved into the term, sherry, that we use today.
Stout explored the fortified wines of Madeira, particularly Malmsey, from “Richard III,” when Richard orders his brother, the Duke of Clarence, executed and he is drowned in a vat of it. Stout paired red wine from Bordeaux with the stories of the Plantagenets, where claret is mentioned, and mead for the honey wine metheglin in “The Merry Wives of Windsor.”
When studying the histories, Stout considered where the stories took place and made educated guesses on which modern style of wine might best represent what was produced during that time period. His habit of methodical and thorough research for the wine selection deepened his understanding of the time and the lives of the characters as well as wine and the wine trade throughout history.
What Stout discovered along the way was that his pairings helped his understanding of the characters and certainly his enjoyment of the works. His efforts became a tool to relate to the characters, helping him see the characters and their worlds in a more vivid and personal way.
“You feel as you read, and enjoy some of the drink that they enjoyed, you get to know the actual characters in the plays better, and I feel I now know some of them as friends, one of the most charming things about the project.”
So what will he do with this project? He seems to do it just for the joy of learning. All of his interests build on each other, he says. Now he’s moving on to the history of Scotch. So he’s still in the Anglophile phase, a real Renaissance man.
I think Shakespeare would have approved.
Catherine Rabb is co-owner of Fenwick’s and a senior instructor at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte. Email: maitlo:Catherine.firstname.lastname@example.org.
More for fans of the man
Since 2016 is the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare, the N.C. Museum of History plans two special events later this year:
▪ “Shakespeare Marathon: 38 Plays in 5 Days,” April 23-28; 38 theater companies across the state perform stage readings around the clock.
▪ “First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare,” featuring a 1623 book of Shakespeare plays, will be on display May 7-30.