What Goes With Your Breakup?

by Diane McMartin

Breakups and alcohol are inextricably linked, so here are some ideas to get you through your next one. I mean, if you’re going to be lying on the floor listening The Boatman’s Call and crying, you might as well drink something worthy of Nick Cave.

More often than raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries, or snozzberries, wine evokes a state of mind or type of person to me. I stick my nose in a glass of boring Merlot, the kind that’s marketed to grocery stores and mid-tier hotel restaurants, and get a visceral image of this mean, small-minded office manager I worked for right after I graduated from college. I mutter, “I bet she’s fun at parties.”

Recently, a lovely friend of mine got dumped, and as I searched for the perfect bottle to open to soothe her broken heart and ego, I started thinking about what goes with different types of breakups.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that you were the jerk. You cheated, or you were emotionally unavailable and should probably spend your life alone rather than inflict yourself onto any future unwitting partners. For this kind of breakup, consider what we wine dorks call a ‘wine of contemplation.’ Barolo Chinato, a fortified red Italian wine that kind of tastes like cough syrup dipped in felt and dark fairy tales, is made for this type of moment. It’s a little bitter and great with dark chocolate.

You’re the dumper, and s/he was an asshat: Congratulations on dumping that asshole! To celebrate your moxie and clean start, it’s gotta be Champagne — let’s go one step further and make it a serious rosé Champagne. And unlike fortified wines, sparkling wine is never as good the next day, which means you’ll have to invite a friend or two over to celebrate/commiserate with you, which is probably a good thing anyway. Or you could just have a really interesting night and end up way overspending on iTunes and singing along to weird songs you liked in high school and writing long, rambling emails to your mother. Anyway, Champagne can be expensive (and the really good stuff is amazing, so it’s a rabbit hole you might not want to go down — ask me how I know!), so feel free to substitute with the rosé sparkler of your choice. Austria and Italy are both producing some good, interesting sparkling rosés these days.

If you’ve been blindsided by that awful, ‘it’s not me, it’s you,’ type of conversation, you need something reaffirming and classic. Find a wine shop where everyone looks either like a Brooklyn hipster or old enough to be your grandfather and ask for a classic white Burgundy. Consume with butter slathered on a toasted baguette sprinkled with salt. Thank me later.

When you’ve been chucked for someone else, you need something cheering. Something a little bit sweet, like Moscato d’Asti, is just the ticket. It’s like a Mimosa or Bellini, but you don’t have to try to find peach puree. Plus it’s only 5% alcohol, so you can go a little crazy and down most of the bottle without becoming a complete hot mess and drunk dialing him or her.

If you had a mutual breakup resulting from a calm, measured conversation, congratulations! You’re a mature adult. Now leave, you’re making the rest of us feel self-conscious, with your kale smoothies and balanced checking account. It’s time for you to choose your new house wine — something affordable, quaffable, and stylish that you can pull out whenever people come over in a casually sophisticated way. Try something just left of center that might become your new favorite, like northern Italy’s Dolcetto, a fruity red that’s great chilled with pizza, or an interesting white from France’s Savoie region that’s great for summer weather.

Whatever you choose, leave your phone with a friend you trust, drink lots of water, and buy some new underwear! Trust me on that last one. Happy heartbreak!

Diane McMartin is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and a graduate of a fancy-pants wine and beverage education program in St. Helena, CA. This required many flashcards and a lot of coffee. She lives in the Washington, DC area, where she works in retail teaching wine education classes, helping customers find the perfect wine, and wading through the seemingly endless ocean of bad Chardonnay out there. She loves cats, Ruffles, ugly Dansko clogs, pilates, and anything with bubbles.