The Single Drink

Drinking alone
When was the last time you heard of someone thinking deeply over what brand of spirits to open for company or a significant other? Does anyone really ever take time to think about what would be the perfect beer for a quiet dinner for two? Is "self indulgence" ever more perfectly defined than when we choose a wine from our cellar that's meant to drunk just by the chooser?

The answers are rarely if ever, no and no.

I've been thinking recently about Wine & Single Guy. More accurately, I've been thinking about the differences between how wine contributes to and reflects a relationship and how it contributes to singledom. What I've concluded shouldn't be a surprise or a revelation:

1. Wine is the drink best suited to reflect a commitment to a relationship between two people

2. Wine is extraordinarily well suited to reflect the self indulgent nature of singledom.
For those of you who are coupled, yet remember vividly that time when you were not, consider the process of you went through to choose a wine to drink just for yourself versus how you choose a wine to drink today. The difference between the responses to "What will I drink tonight?" and "What should I open for us tonight" is the same difference between the meaning of these questions: "How do I feel tonight?" and "What are we feeling tonight"?

The first question is so immediately and complete self indulgent that it almost seems pathological. The second question indicates a connection of value. This might overstate the question, but not by much.

For example, given a person of average to slightly above average means, what does it say about them when they open a bottle of 1990 Grande Dame for themselves? What does it say when they choose to uncork a 1985 Richbourg alone at a table? Tell me you wouldn't raise your eyebrows. Tell me that despite the great wine they are about to consume you wouldn't feel a little sorry for them…maybe even worried. Not that you necessarily should be, but it's a thought that would cross your mind, I'm sure.

On the other hand, the table set for two on which sits a fine vintage Champagne and a great Burgundy can't on the face of it be considered anything other than smile-inducing and lovely.

One is curiously self-indulgent. The other is probably a celebration of a relationship.

I think it's important to keep in mind the way wine and our choices surrounding wine can be a signpost pointing toward our place in the world and the permanent or current personal connections we possess. Remember, no one will or really can with any accuracy assess your current disposition based on the brand of vodka you pour over ice, whether it's poured just for yourself or for you and another person. But they will, and can, when wine is the liquid at hand.

Of course, more than anything this all points to one set of immutable facts: singlehood is the condition through which we can most fully express the simple truth of "me"; couplehood is the condition through which we can most fully express our personal well of emphathy. Wine is uniquely suited to shine the light on both. And this is one more reason why wine is the most special of all beverages.


12 Responses

  1. Glenn - November 11, 2008

    You raise an interesting point, however for those who are single it’s not a matter of indulging one’s self more so than choosing a spirit fitting of the ambiance and mood of the evening. Of course if someone is drinking $250 bottles by themselves every night, they’re either filthy rich or self-indulging. If one is single and the mood strikes them on a particularly beautiful summer night that they would like to drink a particularly aged and complex wine they shouldn’t be condemned. Sometimes the mood is just right for that kind of thing, single or matched.

  2. Tom Wark - November 11, 2008

    It would never occur to me to condemn anyone for indulging while alone. It might occur to me to call them, however, were I to get wind of their self indulgence.

  3. wino - November 11, 2008

    Great post. Singledom does encouage self-indulgance! ( I am single). But I think ‘me’ is most clearly defined and expressed in ‘couplehood’ simply out of necessity. Out of suffering comes strength. Like two rocks rubbing together made smooth by regular friction. And any boundry or defined area one is forced to exisit in,even when done willingly, reveals who ‘me’ really is. And now it sure is nice to choose any bottle from my cellar I want too ‘just for the hell of it’

  4. beth - the wine school - November 11, 2008

    I believe it’s about drinking whatever it is you like. My husband drinks cocktails, and makes a superb one, by the by. He enjoys a glass of wine from time to time, but it’s not so much his thing. I, on other hand, mostly drink wine (although these days, I’m having a few more Manhattans than bubbles – bottles go a lot further, you see).
    But I – in communion with Husband (and often several friends) can be found boiling that water for the simple syrup, squeezing those lemons for some Singapore Slings, pouring a wine here, an espresso there. All while delighting in the company gathered around my kitchen island or relaxing in the simple pleasure of having a night at home, alone, with Husband.
    So…as these far-reaching and over-romanticized notions on wine (“most special of all beverages”) go, I just have to say this: You haven’t had one of Husband’s Sidecars.

  5. Glenn - November 11, 2008

    Perhaps I took too defensive to your comments (as I am single). Like wino said, sometimes the night is right to drink something nice “just for the hell of it”. Usually I’m doing this with a few friends but every once in a while I’ll drink something nice by myself while reading a good book on a nice summer’s eve. Self-indulgence? Possibly. A damned fine way to spend an evening alone? I do believe so ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Benito - November 11, 2008

    I’ve somehow managed to make it through life without dating a woman who enjoys wine. If I’m lucky I’ll get her to take a sip but that’s about it–I end up sniffing and swirling my wine over dinner while looking across the table at a bottle of Diet Coke or worse, Coors Light. Yes, nothing matches a perfectly seared scallop like the Silver Bullet.
    I’ve found that if I want to enjoy a special wine, I either need to add friends to the table or just hang out with the wine lovers.
    I guess the times when I drink wine alone are self-indulgent, but it’s better than not enjoying wine at all.

  7. el jefe - November 11, 2008

    Actually there are times where I do think fairly deeply about which spirits to open for visiting friends – usually something suitably sippable, maybe after dinner – or for the perfect tequila for a margarita night.
    As far as wine for two goes – my wife is in a pretty firm white wine mode right now, and this man doth not live by white alone – and so some nights two bottles are pulled from the shelf, and are enjoyed together.

  8. Dylan - November 11, 2008

    Wine as a beverage of relationship status. Perhaps Facebook should trade in their old rankings for different kinds of wines. Which wines do you think would mean “I’m Single” or “It’s Complicated” or “Married”?

  9. Thomas Pellechia - November 12, 2008

    Depending on how you look at it, I’m either lucky or cursed with a wife who has a good palate, loves all kinds of wine, and takes half of my bottle whether or not I want to give it up!!!
    Before I met my wife, I drank wine relatively alone. I had no friends who loved it as much as I did, and I met no girls (I was young then) who even cared to try it.
    In fact, it was I who introduced my wife to wine.
    Each night, dinner starts with a brief discussion of whether or not we chose a wine suitable for the food; then, we savor what goes down our gullets.
    On special occasions, I try to hide the best bottle under my bed ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. Julie - November 13, 2008

    Coming from a person who is newly single: I loved this. I can completely and very clearly see both sides. You see, I’m a former “red-only” wine drinker. But for 2.5 years was in a relationship with a “white-only” (and reluctant in general) wine drinker. During that time, I was able to expand my boundaries and learn to enjoy white wine. I didn’t think I’d ever do that. So that was a good thing. But now, oh joy, I can reach back into my wine collection and open a beautiful bottle of red anytime–and thoroughly enjoy it regardless of who’s with me. At the same time I can embibe in white when my friends make that choice–without cringing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. mydailywine - November 14, 2008

    When I open an especially delicious bottle alone it is often a celebration of me or perhaps just the wine itself. It’s true that I sip it slowly. But I enjoy it just as much ( maybe more)as the many bottles I have shared with loved ones or wino friends.
    My partner doesn’t drink any alcohol at all so I get the best of all worlds. I can have the 2-3 glasses when we eat out and not disagree about who is driving home!

  12. Dr. Horowitz - November 17, 2008

    Can you do a post on the alcohol laws that pertain to: tasting rooms vs. schools?
    I work at a winery and don’t know what the tasting room pour limit policy is, and now with the new School of Business and Economics Dean at SSU, we’re changing our alcohol in the classroom policy. What are SRJC’s, Napa Valley JC’s alcohol policies?

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