Dating & Breakup Wine Pairings

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Which wine should you order on a first date?

Which wine should you reach for when you’ve been dumped?

Obviously there’s no amount of alcohol that can make you forget the asshole who cheated on you or save you from an awkward first date. But, if you’re going to be lying in bed feeling sorry for yourself, you might as well drink something comforting. And if you’re rejoicing in your newfound freedom because sometimes breakups are a relief, you’ll definitely want something celebratory! And if you find yourself having dinner with someone who (fingers-crossed) may be your prince/princess and not another frog, you’ll want something as magical as the evening.

Wine doesn’t just pair well with food; it also pairs perfectly with some of the best and worst moments of our love lives…


BREAKUPS

 

You dumped someone and they were the jerk:

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Maybe you were cheated on, lied to, or finally fed up of his/her controlling and abusive ways. Congratulations on getting rid of that asshole! You deserve so much better and you can start with a festive rosé champagne/sparkling wine like Mumm Napa Brut Rosé ($20) or Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé NV ($53.99). Invite some close friends over, pop open the bubbly, and blast the playlist below.

Playlist: “Hell No” by Ingrid Michelson; “Shame On You” by Jacob Whiteside; “Best Thing I Never Had” and “Sorry” by Beyonce; “Really Don’t Care” by Demi Lovato; “Been There, Done That” by Luke Bryan; “Break Free” by Ariana Grande ft. Zed; “Second Chance” by Tristan Prettyman; “Lyin’ Eyes” by The Eagles

 

You dumped someone and you were the jerk:

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Maybe you were the cheater, were emotionally unavailable, or strung the person along far too long. In this situation, I’d suggest a Petite Sirah to contemplate your relationship decisions. It’s a complex red wine that often has a bittersweet aroma – think chocolate truffles rolled in dirt – and is high in tannins, so you’ll need to decant it for a few hours. Another option is a Syrah, preferably a French Syrah, which many describe as a wine that “howls out of the glass” (sort of like your ex may be doing in the privacy of his/her bathroom). Pour yourself a glass of either and think about how you may handle things differently if you decide to start a new relationship in the future.

Playlist: “I Wish I Was” and “Once” by Maren Morris; “Gone In September” by Mike Posner; “Twenty Eight” by The Weekend; “Start Again” by Conrad Sewell; “Come Clean” by Tristan Prettyman

 

You were dumped for someone else:

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Love may not be as sweet as you’d hoped, but your wine definitely can be! Buy a bottle of Moscato like Mia Dolcea D’Asti ($13.99) or Robert Mondavi Winery Moscato D’Oro Napa Valley ($14.50) to go along with any other junk food you see on the way to the grocery store checkout. Most moscato contains less than 5% alcohol which means you can down the entire bottle without becoming a hot mess and drunk dialing your ex (who is probably already with his/her new flame, sorry!). Love didn’t work with this person, but it can work with another who will have eyes for only you.

Playlist: “Lucky One” by Post Monroe; “He’s All Yours” by Brooke Eden; “Aftertaste” by Shawn Mendes; “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette; “Like We Used To (Piano Version)” by A Rocket To The Moon; “Hell of a Gal” by Grace

 

You’ve been blindsided by the breakup:

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One of the scariest things about heartbreak is that you don’t always know it’s coming. People talk about the recognizing “signs” that indicate your partner has fallen out of love with you, but sometimes it takes months after you’ve split to realize what those were. You may have talked about the future with this person. You honestly believed you were both on the same page. You may have thought Warner was going to propose like poor Elle Woods here, but life is unpredictable and people fall out of love. Give it a few months and you’ll begin to see the “good” in goodbye. Sorry, Warner! Looks like you didn’t graduate at the top of your class. Until then, you need something classic and reaffirming like Merlot to go along with the heart-wrenching lyrics of Tristan Prettyman.

Playlist: “Never Say Never” (listen to the WHOLE song, she talks at the end) and “I Was Gonna Marry You” by Tristan Prettyman; “The Blade” by Ashley Monroe; “Drink You Gone” by Ingrid Michaelson; “I Heard Goodbye” by Dan + Shay; “Over You By Now” by Jana Kramer; “Lost and Found” by Pia Mia; “She Got The Best of Me” by Luke Combs

 

You’ve been “friend-zoned”:

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Sometimes you put yourself out there only to become your crush’s new best friend. Or maybe they give you a glimpse that you could be more only than friends only to yank the potential out from underneath you. Ugh! For this frustrating situation, I suggest a wine that won’t make you cringe anymore than you already have. Chardonnay is a great option because depending on which type you buy, it can be the comfort food of wines; one made in an irresistible buttery, toasty style is just what you need.

Playlist: “Like You” by EXES; “Tears” by Clean Bandit (ft. Louisa Johnson); “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M.; “Not In That Way” by Sam Smith; “That Sweater” by Scott Helman

 

Your breakup was mutual:

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Wow, congratulations on being a mature adult! You’ve both reasonably assessed the relationship and truly agree you’re better off either as friends or far, far, away from each other. I’d suggest trying a Port wine, which is a sweet fortified wine from Portugal. Aged for a long time, this mature wine often falls into two flavor categories: chocolate cake (Vintage Port) and creme brûlée (Tawny Port). Who said maturity had to taste boring? Cheers to getting closure and moving on to this new chapter of your life!

Playlist: “We Got It Right” by Old Dominion; “Air” by Shawn Mendes ft. Astrid S; “Good In Goodbye” by Carrie Underwood; “Let It Be” by James Bay

 

You’re contemplating a breakup:

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What do you want? Well, it’s obvious the answer you’re looking for is not that simple because you haven’t officially ended things yet. You’re between a rock and a hard place. You still have feelings, but you miss the way things used to be in your relationship. You’ve also been with this person for a substantial amount of time; you find comfort in knowing they have seen you at your best and your worst and still love you. Do you call it quits or try to work on the relationship? While you’re weighing the pros and cons, going back through every memory you’ve shared with this person, sip on Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon. The winery’s label is fitting for your dilemma. A stag (male deer) has jumped off of a steep, rocky cliff; his two back legs remain grounded, while the front two are suspended in air. Just as the stag’s fate is uncertain, what will become of your relationship?

Playlist: “How To Love Me” by Grace; “Nothing Arrived” by Villagers; “The Heart Wants What It Wants” by Selena Gomez; “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday” by Jason Mraz; “Too Good” by Drake ft. Rihanna; “A Night To Remember” by Betty Who; “Honeymoon Avenue” by Ariana Grande; “Last Request” by Paolo Nutini

 

You’re contemplating reaching out to an ex:

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Maybe you never got the closure you needed or perhaps you regret breaking things off. Maybe you coincidentally ran into them at Starbucks (unless you’re stalking, which is not cute) and miss them, or are done being mad and want to begin a friendship with this person. These can be treacherous waters, as many of your friends will probably warn you, but you should be the ultimate decider. Ask the tough questions: How will this conversation benefit you? Do you really want to hear the truth? Why reach out at this point in time? Will seeing this person put you back in a heartbroken state? While you mull over these questions, sip on some mulled wine. You’ll have to make it (I like this recipe), but it should take no more than ten minutes. It’s a drink that is so ridiculously comforting to the soul with aromas of cinnamon, cloves, apple, and orange; it’s like your grandma is hugging you and whispering the right answer in your ear.

Playlist: “Hello” and “Don’t You Remember” by Adele; “I Miss You” by Kacey Musgraves; “Hurricane” by Luke Combs; “First Time” by Kelsea Ballerini; “Coke Can” by Kira Isabella

 


DATING

 

The first date is going great:

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So they’re attractive, super easy to talk to, have a great sense of humor, and share similar interests. You’re so wrapped up in deep conversation, you hardly notice the waiter has come to take your order. There are a few varietals you can choose from for this exhilarating scenario. If you’re feeling a little nervous and want to ease into drinking, start with a Gewürztraminer; it’ll awaken your palate and give your mouth a crisp, clean feeling that’s perfect for kissing. If you’re feeling confident and sexy, a California or Oregon Pinot Noir is a great choice.

 

The first date isn’t going great:

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Sometimes you have high hopes going into a date but unfortunately, they aren’t met. Maybe the conversation is awkward and you end up asking all the questions. Perhaps your date has strong opinions and shares too much too soon. They may even try and go in for a kiss you didn’t welcome (ugh, the worst!). If this is the case, either forgo the alcohol and call it a night, or tough out the awkwardness and order a bold, robust Cabernet Sauvignon. 

 

Your date canceled last-minute:

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All dressed up…to go nowhere! Maybe they’re blowing you off or maybe they really did catch a cold. You won’t know until they reschedule or never text you again. Regardless, you can’t help but feel a little disappointed. But just because they missed out on a great time doesn’t mean you have to! Invite a friend over and get out the old vine Zinfandel. Or better yet, keep on those date clothes and go out with a friend as if plans hadn’t changed! Zin is rich with brambly fruit flavors, has a great tannic grip, and tastes expensive and indulgent. You deserve it all tonight! Be careful though, Zinfandel is known to be high in alcohol. One too many glasses and you may find yourself giving the person who blew you off a piece of your mind!

 

The romantic night in:

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Sometimes you just want a romantic night in with your other half! Break out the candles, blankets, and a romantic comedy you both like. To further set the mood, I’d recommend a Spanish or Chilean wine. For Spanish wine, the tempranillo grape is a great choice because it has a sexy earthiness to it with aromas of black truffles, leather, and damp forest floor. Chile also makes some seductive wines from a grape called carmenère that have the texture of a velvet pillow and the flavors of mocha and spice. These are wines perfect for cozying up with the one you love.

Playlist: “Hold Me In Your Arms” by Ray LaMontagne; “Good For You” by Selena Gomez; “Speakers” by Sam Hunt; “Close Your Eyes” by Lily Allen; “When You Come Back Down” by Nickel Creek; “Make You Feel My Love” by Adele; “Iris” by The Goo Goo Dolls; “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran

 

Meeting the parents:

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Meeting your partner’s parents is a big step in the relationship and can be both exciting and a little nerve-wracking since you probably want to impress them. Bringing a bottle of wine to a family dinner is a smart move if you know they are wine drinkers. Clarify they aren’t opposed to wine first! You’ll want to bring a varietal that appeals to all tastes. I’d suggest a Sauvignon Blanc for a white and a red blend for a red.

 

Group date:

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Groups dates are typically one or more of the following: a setup for you and a mutual friend; a setup for two friends you share with your partner; a way to see how your partner fits in with your friend group and vice versa; a change of pace in your dating routine; or a chance to spend time with your third-wheel friend. Although group dates can conjure up awkward scenarios in your head (thanks a lot, ABC’s The Bachelor), the vibe of this date should be easy-going and fun. What wine exudes a carefree and fun nature better than a dry rosé? Check out my favorites here.

Final note: These pairings are meant to be light-hearted and fun. By no means should you drink wine for EVERY life situation! Sometimes a cup of tea and a long phone call with your parents is all you need.


“Here’s to the [ones] who love us, the losers who lost us, and the lucky bastards that get to meet us!” – Sex and the City

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