Sunday, August 14, 2011

Wine Pairings for Single Parents

This blog is primarily about learning, my own learning about wine and food, and how they play a part in my life. And so to this end, I've decided to share with you some things I've been learning in a field that is still entirely new to me, wine and single parenting. Please do not turn the page if you live in a two parent household, or if you do not have children - some of these pairing ideas might still be applicable in your life. Here are some of my favorite single parenting situations, along with the pairings that I have found to be most successful:

"Accidents" - Let's start simple and ubiquitous. There is no chance to avoid this, to offload the chore onto your partner if you are a single parent. No laundry to go pick up, paychecks to go deposit...It's all you, and you are dealing with poopies and pee, in pants, on dresses, on the floor, everywhere. A good wine pairing can help. I find that something highly aromatic is best here, something with a tremendously long finish. If you don't want to think too hard about this, simply open anything that has been scored at least a 94 by Robert Parker. But so far, the finest pairing I've experienced is a pungent Amontillado Sherry, and preferably one that is a little on the sweet side. Try Valdespino's Contrabandista, if you can find it.

Kids Won't Go to Sleep - You know the deal, it's a solid hour and a half after bedtime, and they're still talking, laughing, arguing, singing, getting out of bed to go to the bathroom or ask for more water. I find here that a good rosé works very well, but very dry. You want to echo and amplify their joy, and the austere and hopefully bitter finish will remind you that you are on your own and you have about 2 hours total of adult time until you too should be sleeping, or you will not be able to get up with them at 7:00 AM.

Kids Wake Up at 5:45 AM - Sleep begets sleep, as most parents have discovered. And when they stay up too late, they will be up early too. But the problem is, you're a single parent and there are no more deals to be made, no more "Please honey, just let me sleep now and I swear to you that I will take both of them all afternoon and you can do whatever you want." Clearly you need coffee, strong and plentiful. And you know what, I'm going to keep the rest of this one to myself.

The Meltdown - This is so much easier when there were two parents. Mainly, because a child's meltdown can so easily lead to a parent's meltdown, and when there are two parents, one is likely to remain rational. Now, it's all about preventing the accompanying adult meltdown. Here I recommend something special, like Clos Rougeard or Jacky Truchot. What you're looking for isn't one particular type of wine, you're looking for balance and purity. This is a powerful idea and I suggest that you single parents try it. Why just the other day one of my kids had an absurd meltdown on the bus, the kind where everyone else is looking at you thinking that you are the most pathetic dad ever. Obviously I couldn't dig into my cellar at that time, but I merely thought about drinking the 1999 Lafarge Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chênes, and honestly I felt a little better.

Broken Glass - Your younger child, say two and a half years old, is drinking milk from a glass that you put on her table. It's a low table and she can stand near it, pick up the glass, drink, and return it to the table without any problems. She's done it literally thousands of times. You go to the bathroom to run their bath, and while it's running, quickly try to sweep the floor in the hallway where they just stood eating pretzels. You feel happy, satisfied at multitasking, and then hear a loud shattering crash in the bathroom. Your two and a half year old has carried her glass into the bathroom and dropped it, smashing it all over the tile. "Don't move!" you say, eyeballing the zillions of shards. But she moves, and steps on one, and cuts her toe. Cursing yourself at not using a plastic cup, you simply pick her up and place her, crying, in the tub. Soon she is happily playing, her sister too, and you are on your hands and knees sweeping up glass. In this situation I recommend a booze drink. Gin makes sense as it is the strongest booze. I find that the bitterness of the Negroni works well, and as an added bonus, the sanguine color is reminiscent of the blood from the poor child's foot.

Bath Time Screaming - Happily playing in the bath doesn't necessarily translate to happy times while washing hair and body. When there were two parents, I was sometimes the one sitting on the couch reading the New Yorker and pretending that I was deaf. Single parents never read the New Yorker, I can tell you that. Instead we wash our childrens' hair and bodies, over their loud and emphatic protestations, perhaps stopping to remove a little glass from a toe. Here I find again that booze is your best bet, perhaps unsullied with vermouth, seltzer, juices or any sort of mixers. Just booze. I like whiskey.

Excessive Squabbling - You know, kids need to learn how to work it out themselves. In a safe environment with an adult nearby, it's important for children to experience conflict and attempt to resolve it on their own. Sometimes my own crankiness as a single parent makes my kids cranky, and they squabble. When it gets excessive and I'm about ready to poke myself in the eye with a sharp stick, I remember that this is normal, and that actually instead of hovering and trying to resolve their problem for them, I might actually be more helpful to them if I simply sit back and let it unfold. I like beer here, preferably a bracing and refreshing pilsner. Lately ice cold Radeberger has been my go-to choice. This bitter pils actually refreshes, so much so that when they occasionally work out their problem, no one hurt or crying, and actually resume whatever they were playing, I feel even as a single parent, well enough to pick them both up in my arms and kiss them and tell them how proud of them I am.


Steve at said...

Working all day as a Special Education teacher, I can appreciate the subtle nuances of your distinctions. Do you have a pairing suggestion for a day when you get puked on?

Steve in Houston

Cager said...

I have no children, so I can't relate directly. However, I believe that a book pairing wine with life's multitude of "events" has the potential to be a best-seller.

Anonymous said...

At first I thought you were describing the beverages you gave to the kids.

Guess we can tell I'm not a parent.

keithlevenberg said...

Steve, getting puked on is a fine occasion for a Madeira. That stuff can stand up to anything, and will make the cleanup more tolerable.

Custom Labels said...

I don't have kids but this was highly entertaining to read. I can't even imagine what you go through on a day-to-day basis but I agree that any book that pairs wine with life events is on par to be a success. I enjoyed it a lot.

Kelsey said...

I may not be a single parent, but I thoroughly enjoyed this post! As Cager said, this kind of daily-life-event-pairing is a fantastic idea. Definitely book worthy!

Tista said...

Witty, heart-felt, dry; underlined with insightful empathy . Love it!
If we had had paired a wine with your post I would have pulled out a 2007 Nelles Spatburguner -B- or a 90's Musar?

Alfonso Cevola said...

I gotta say, BWG, when I was a single parent, I looked forward to the after the bedtime story "gnac"

Working and parenting can lead to an excessive appreciation of the mysteries of brandy...

very creative post...a form of "therapy with benefits"

Anonymous said...

As a single parent myself I enjoyed every word of this. One problem though... to implement such pairings one must have time to prepare and shop. As I am writing on the first day after a week of school vacation my cupboards are bare and every last drop of alcohol is gone. In fact I became so desperate last week that I opened a bottle of Korbel Brut Rose Pink Champagne from CALIFORNIA that someone left at my house after a party. It hit the spot to such a degree that I exclaimed "Fabuleux" so loudly I almost woke the kids.