What Goes With Spring Landscaping?

by Diane McMartin

Spring may actually come to North America at some point, which means addressing what’s going on under all those sweaters and hats. I swear, once it hits 70 degrees I’m just going to run out of my house stark naked, public nudity laws be damned. Save money by doing some of this excavation and shellacking yourself, and then blow what you saved on delicious beverages. What could be better?

Is Something Burning? Nair, and its even scarier generic counterparts, call for a soothing accompaniment. Because who hasn’t ended up with a red mustache from wanting to read just a little longer in the bathtub, thus leaving it smeared on your face too long? No? For something cooling and refreshing with that delightful frisson of springtime, I love Vinho Verde, a very lightly sparkling, low-alcohol white wine from Portugal, so named because the wine is released so young it has a barely-green hue. Drink out of a cute little juice glass, and don’t read anything too absorbing. Also, maybe stick to well-known brands of hair-dissolving cream with labels in a language you can read.

One…two…eek! I was going to write something funny about how even though I hate tea, something that focuses and also relaxes you would be the best thing to drink while trying to wax your own legs/vulva, but you know what? Just don’t try and wax yourself. I have, several times, and had the burns to prove it. What you should really do is get on Yelp, make an appointment somewhere that seems reasonable, and have a beer beforehand. I recommend something flavorful, but not too heavy — like Anchor Steam Ale. Beer seems solid and steadying, somehow.

All the Right Angles: Plucking your own eyebrows requires precision, perspective, and probably some other P words I haven’t thought of yet. The only thing that really works in my experience is to take frequent breaks. Does anyone ever color in the areas you want to pluck with a white eye pencil like you’re supposed to? Who even has a white eye pencil? Much easier to do a few hairs, then step away. Repeat, alternating sides, until you like the results when viewed from a normal distance and not a magnifying mirror.

A really dry, cerebral Riesling would be the perfect accompaniment and/or reward. Its bracing acidity will keep you alert, and it’s a style of wine that is often referred to as “detailed.” This is a descriptor that sounds douche-y and meaningless, but think of it as related to — but not the same as — complex. As in: not only are there lots of aromas, but they are all really distinct from one another, and appear in your mind’s eye as if they are arranged in an almost symphonic manner. Domaine Weinbach’s Rieslings (either the Reserve Personelle or the Cuvée Ste. Catherine) epitomize this style. The best German dry Rieslings are labeled Grosses Gewachs, or GG for short. The really good ones tend to be expensive, and also imported by Terry Theise, so look for that on the back label if you’re in the mood to splurge.

Because You’re Worth It: Has any woman in history ever managed to use home hair color without getting it everywhere? Apparently whitening toothpaste is supposed to get out stains on sinks and bathtubs from hair dye, but I’ve never tried it and instead rely on panic-stricken scrubbing. There is something undignified about sitting around in a ratty bathrobe with smelly dye smooshed all through your hair, so try something with a little gravitas. A big, inky Chateauneuf-du-Pape in your biggest glass will make you feel fancy in an elegant, grown-up lady sort of way for sure. As an added bonus, the 2011s that are out right now are not the tannic monsters that these wines sometimes are, so you can sip them without, say, a big grilled piece of lamb, and they will still be enjoyable. Not that there’s anything wrong with a big piece of lamb.

Beauty School Dropout: Festive and a little frivolous is the tone you want to strike for trying on outlandish makeup that you will likely never wear outside your bathroom, taking photos, and then washing it off. (Yes, I read real books too, I swear.) One of my favorite sparkling cocktails is the Kir Royale, the bubbly counterpart to the more traditional Kir cocktail. Seek out real creme de cassis, but a $10–12 bottle of Cava or Prosecco will do just fine for the bubbles. If you find a really good brand of crème de cassis, like Langlois Pere et Fils, all you need is a few drops in the bottom of your glass. Fill the rest of the way with your bubbly, and you’ve got a Kir Royale! If all you can find is Chambord, just leave it on the shelf and drink the cheap bubbly on its own. Also, olive oil and an old toothbrush will take off that weird, vampy lipstick that has now stained your lips and made you look like a cautionary tale from an after-school special.

What Not To Wear: Going through all your clothes and following the advice of style books by building outfits and throwing away anything that’s not flattering is something best done with another person or persons. I, for one, cannot make any fashion decisions unsupervised. Neither am I one of those people who can just wander into Target and find something amazing that mixes effortlessly with the rest of my wardrobe, and, miraculously, photographs well.

A group activity like this calls for sangria. I actually don’t love traditional red sangria, especially when cinnamon and other spices are in the mix. I want it to be refreshing and seem natural to serve over ice. So try rose sangria! Instead of the traditional apple slices and cinnamon sticks, use some combination of peaches, raspberries, strawberries, Ranier cherries — you get the idea. Instead of brandy, try an eau de vie made from one of the aforementioned fruits (these are clear spirits and usually come in fancy bottles), and add a tablespoon or two of that creme de cassis you bought for your Kir Royals.

I didn’t realize I was so fixated on pink beverages or did so much personal maintenance, but there you are. Even someone raised in a liberal, Unitarian Universalist household who wears trashed-to-hell black clogs five out of every seven days can absorb traditional gender roles. See? This is why I need people to help me weed through my clothes. Who wants to come over? I still have some off-brand Nair left to share!

Previously: What Goes With Your February Self-Improvement Kick?

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.