Enjoying Wine in a Relationship

Some may have noticed that I have not written an entry about wine for quite some time. My absence from writing prolifically about my journeys through the wine world does have reason. For one, well work has just been nuts and I usually get to a 2nd or 3rd glass of wine before I feel I can write something about it, but then of course wonderful alcohol takes its effect and my ability to prose is severely limited. But for the second reason, I started dating someone about five months ago who really doesn’t drink wine. (My boyfriend’s going to kill me for writing this.) He doesn’t mind if I drink wine. He just doesn’t like tasting it, and isn’t too happy when he tastes it on my lips. He’s not upset, and he doesn’t say, “Oh, you can’t drink wine.” Because then I think I would just have to say, “Um…I like wine way too much – sorry!” But our moments of romance are a bit interrupted when I’m asked to brush my teeth before going any further. I completely understand – if I really didn’t like a food and tasted it on someone’s lips, I would ask them to purge the taste of it as well. So, usually I simply abstain from drinking unless I know we will not be together.

So what do you do when your significant other does not like wine and you do? It can affect romance, social activities, networking and simply hanging out. Like it or not, you liking wine and the other person not liking it is a big deal. Well one way to avoid the whole problem is simply not drinking wine around the other person. But, as I’ve found from my limited experience, this actually puts a strain on the relationship. Not a big one at first, mind you, but it will grow. The reason? Your significant other knows you.

They know you perhaps better than you know yourself. They can tell when you’re in the mood for some wine, craving a peppery pinot noir or a fruity zinfandel. Don’t try to hide it. I usually need to have a glass of wine in hand when I call my parents – not that it’s a chore and that I need a buzz to take away the pain. It just loosens the conversation a bit and makes conversation more fluid. My boyfriend knows this. If I don’t have wine in my hand, he gets inquisitive. Of course I’m thinking, “Well he doesn’t like the taste of wine, so I’ll go with a Fresca instead.” He knows me too well, and says, “BJ. Go get a glass of wine.” Ha! How about that for good communication?

The point is – abstaining entirely from wine when you’re significant other is around is impractical. Sure, sometimes it’s the appropriate action depending on the night’s activities. (I’ll leave that open to interpretation.) You need to discuss this with your significant other, especially if he or she is living with you. Then the whole abstaining thing really doesn’t work. Now if you want to cut down on wine a lot because you want to lose weight or you think you’re drinking too much, please do so. But I would not sacrifice what you see as a life-giving activity and hobby because it causes a bit of discomfort that a good tooth brushing usually takes care of.

Now let’s talk specifics. You and your significant other (S.O.) are having a nice dinner at home. You both decided on the ingredients and the menu, and you both contributed to cooking the meal, setting the table, the whole nine yards. As you finish cooking the meal and setting the modest feast (with plenty of aphrodisiacs) on the table, you think of a wine that would complement the meal perfectly. You have a bottle of it in the basement. The thought of it makes you close your eyes and “mmm” with delight. But here’s the dilemma: should you open a bottle of wine at this dinner if your S.O. will not partake with you? This is a romantic dinner, a meal where you and your SO are sharing something intimate with each other. By having wine while the other is having water or soda is bad taste and will, either consciously or subconsciously, separate you two. It will be as if you are each having your own meal. But what if my S.O. encourages me to get a glass of wine? What if she/he doesn’t mind? Ignore the desire! Even if they “say” it’s ok, it really won’t be.

Now, it is allowable if you two decide to have drinks with dinner, where you decide to have wine and he/she decides to have beer or cocktail. This is totally acceptable as each party is imbibing in alcohol, not just one. If just one of you is having alcohol, it will be as if the other is the DD (designated driver), who is present but really isn’t enjoying themselves at the party watching everyone else get drunk. So, as best you can, level the playing field. You can share the drinks if you wish, though the other probably won’t try your wine. But encourage them to try it. Then, after the meal, share a dessert drink to really even everything out – a coffee, espresso, chocolate martini or what have you. This will end the night on a great note. You are no longer interested in what you want, but are geared toward what you and your S.O. want together.

This is precisely why you should not have alcohol, specifically wine, at a dinner when your S.O. is not drinking – it is a sign of self-interest and selfishness. In a relationship, you should not necessarily be disinterested in your own wants and interests, but you should modify some of them to fit with the other person. And wine should be a tool of such transformation, of bringing people together, forming the bonds of friendship and relationship, helping to bring peace and love to people’s lives. Perhaps I am idealistic in thinking wine can do this much. But why shouldn’t I be? Don’t put that stopper back in the bottle just yet, take another whiff.


One response to this post.

  1. Hey Beej. I hear you. My BF doesn’t like red wine, so when we started dating, I pretty much gave up buying it. Recently he decided that drinking at all isn’t very good for him, which I understand and respect. When he made that call, I gave up drinking too, unless we are out at a social gathering where drinking is commonplace. I love wine and whiskey, but I don’t need them, and let’s be honest, my budget appreciates the extra funds. Unrelatedly, congrats on the new relationship :-). I fully expect to meet him next time I’m in the Bend (which, if I get in to UM, might be pretty soon). Miss you!


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