What wine pairs with a lousy boyfriend? I get asked for a lot of pairing advice, which also means I spend an abnormal amount of time in the wine aisle at my local Safeway supermarket. This is probably a good indication that I’m not only a functioning alcoholic, but a cheap functioning alcoholic. Personally, I like to spin my loitering as, “a wine professional performing diligent research into the latest trends and pricing in the industry.” And let’s face it: if I was wasted all the time, I’d never be able to write a sentence like that.
During these, um, periods of focused research, I typically witness several of my fellow shoppers perusing the selections as well, most often with looks of confusion and bewilderment. I don’t blame them. Even a grocery store’s wine selection can be intimidating, as there may be a hundred or more items to choose from. Despite having some off-hand knowledge about how red wine goes with, you know, meat, I never ask a person if they need help finding a selection. Especially women. Because creepy.
Last week, I made an exception.
So, Just How Lousy Are We Talking About?
She was probably in her mid-30’s, though it was hard to tell because she was wearing acid-washed Mom Jeans, which are apparently hip and trendy now but were jeans my mom wore back in the 90’s. I watched her walk slowly in my direction down the white wine side of the aisle, unconsciously twirling her raven hair between her acrylic fingernails, her blue eyes glazing over from too much input. She finally stopped a few feet from me, fixing her gaze on the Yellowtail Chardonnay.
“What wine pairs with a lousy boyfriend?” she sighed.
Though I’m sure she was thinking out loud rather than asking me directly, I couldn’t resist an answer. “Are we talking, ‘I forgot your birthday’ lousy or, ‘I just slept with someone else’ lousy?”
She gave a slight if not morbid chuckle. “My best friend, actually.”
Day-yum. That’s gotta hurt.
“Do you prefer white or red?” I asked.
“I prefer to get drunk,” she replied.
Why Do We Stay With Our Lousy Partners?
Why do we stay? Should we leave? Why do we get dumped when we don’t expect it and not get dumped when we do? As a guy who has had about ninety-six failed relationships, I have given this conundrum quite a bit of thought. And I believe it all comes down to the following equation:
D = (B – T) x E
D is the chance, expressed as a percentage, of getting dumped. B is your abhorrent behavior, minus your partner’s T, or tolerance for said behavior. This sum is then multiplied by your partner’s current E, which is self-esteem. In the case of Mom Jeans, the values of the variables looked something like this:
Dump The Boyfriend = (He Slept With BFF – That’s SO Not Cool) x I Hate Myself.
The higher the E and B, the greater the chance of being dumped. The lower the E and B, the less the chance of being dumped. T is the only variable where your chance of getting dumped goes down as the value goes up. Since E in this example is a negative value (I Hate Myself), it brings the Dump Percentage D down to zero, negating all other variables.
Therefore, to find the perfect wine pairing for your lousy boyfriend, solve for D and apply these general rules:
D < 25% = Sauvignon Blanc (or any Italian white varietal)
D > 25% but < 50% = Chardonnay (typically oaked out the wazoo. None of this light and crisp French stuff)
D > 50% but < 75% = Pinot Noir (but domestic kinds that are usually spiked with Syrah)
D > 75% = Shiraz from Australia, Napa Cabs from 2013, Zinfandel and Primitivo
I’m Sorry Your Lousy Boyfriend Sucks
This may all seem very math-y and complicated, but relationships are complicated things. One might believe that meme-grade sentiments like “Don’t Be A Dick” can guide you through the rat-maze complexity of couplehood, but the truth is you can be a dick and still not get dumped. Worse yet, dickishness is a quality some actually seek out in a mate. Hence, the E in my formula.
Like all sweeping generalizations, this formula probably has more holes in it than Sarah Sanders’ explanation of…anything. If my fellow relationship mathematicians have any additions or modifications, please comment below.
Mom Jeans turned and meandered off to the checkout line, her head bowed to the cold, grey-tiled floor. I thought I wanted to tell her that she didn’t deserve this, regardless of all the circumstances I didn’t know. Then I realized what I really want to do was tell her I was sorry. Not so much in the empathic way that says, “I’m sorry for what you’re going through,” but to actually apologize to her as a proxy for all the partners I had wronged; for all the times my B was so stupid it increased my D factor to the point of no return.
But I said nothing. Instead, I simply picked up my own bottle of Bridlewood Zinfandel. Some of the greatest insight is found at the bottom of a wine bottle. Whether we choose to live by it the next day is another matter entirely.
Cabernet = High Alcohol = Forget Lousy Boyfriend
Honestly, some of the highest-alcohol wines are Zinfandels and their genetically similar cousins, Primitivo. You’ll find plenty of Zins that claim to be 15% alcohol, but in the state of California, you can fudge your alcohol percentages down by as much as a full percentage point. This is why a lot of Zins will set fire to your nose hair and taste like a napalm-laced jar of boysenberry jam. You may notice this phenomenon with Chardonnays or Sauvignon Blancs. High alcohol white wines can taste and smell like turpentine.
A great alternative is Cabernet Sauvignon, like the 2018 Tous Les Jours North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon. With its bold acid and structured tannins, Cabernet can “hold its alcohol.” In other words, the higher alcohol doesn’t necessarily burn. This is true with Tous Les Jours. It’s 14.1% alcohol, but could potentially be 15.1% – but not because it tastes like liquid fire.
Tous Les Jours North Coast Cabernet is available exclusively online, and at $19 a bottle with free shipping, it’s an even cheaper date than your lousy boyfriend.
Oh I needed this belly laugh today! As I sit here pondering the twenty seventh revision of my book proposal and wanting to just drink a bottle of wine myself hoping to regurgitate beautiful words so I don’t have to re-write this damn thing all over again. Ok, well that’s another story. Your story however is highly entertaining, belly-laugh inducing and a much needed smile on face. Love your writing! xoxo K
Thanks, Karista! I wish I had great advice for tackling your book proposal, but you seem to have it covered with the wine-drinking 😉 Good luck!!
Oh my! This one is hysterical! love the mathematical formula!
I had no idea you were a closet mathematician. But I think your formula holds up. And seriously though – acid-washed, high-waisted jeans – just WHY??
That’s pretty much the extent of my math skills 😉 Thanks!
LOVE this! I laughed, I cried, I remembered to vote, I grabbed a calculator. I cannot wait for the book! Also, regardless of age and body-type I don’t think acid wash goes on anyone. Anywhere. Anytime. IMO. 🙂
“I remembered to vote.” LOL!! Thanks, Dusty!
Riveting insight, John. As always, a delightful dollop of your madcap writing skills. Were you at any time tempted to reveal to the be-jeaned beauty your place in the Wine Industry? Perhaps toss in a throwaway “yeah, I do this for a living”? And does this ever happen to you at Trader Joe’s?
I’ll let you in on a little secret (that everyone else in the world can read). This story is a combination of three events: my overhearing a conversation between two 30-somethings in the wine aisle, my recent thoughts about a failed relationship, and being asked for help at random in the grocery store. Some stories are pure truth. Some are pure fiction (though I try to assert as much with those), and some are the best parts of different truths, strung together. Is it creative license or misleading manipulation? I’ll ask Barry Gifford 😉
That mathematical equation is FAR too complex for “a wine professional performing diligent research into the latest trends and pricing in the industry.” X-D And yet so perfectly accurate.
I didn’t expect a mathematics class in your post today, but as always, thoroughly enjoyed the ‘lecture!’
I promise there won’t be a quiz, and I swear that’s the last of the math. Back to drinking…
“Turn your wounds into wisdom” – Oprah. Or, if you’re mad genius muse won’t sit still, an incisive formula. Or a chat with Bacchus :). Great stuff JT!!