EST. May 2000 (AD)


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Pair Your Next Marital Spat With the Perfect Wine

By Julie Ward

Alcohol is not just for drunken brawls any more. Couples from all walks of life are finding that choosing the right bottle of wine to accompany an argument can raise the level of conflict, help them convey a message and make them feel classy.

"It takes an ugly situation and makes it , like, French," said Nikki Turbot, wife and sales consultant. She recently downed a bottle of Zinfandel with her husband while they argued about whose turn it was to stock the refrigerator in the garage with beer.

"The words 'wine pairing' are like magic," her husband Kevin added. "You say it in front of the neighbors, and they won't even call the cops."

The decision to drink a Zinfandel was Nikki's.

"All the websites say you should drink it with something spicy," she explained. "I knew the conversation about the beer fridge was going to get heated, so it seemed like a good match."

"To be honest, I think it would go good with any fight," Kevin said.

But most wine experts would disagree. The whole point, they say, is to choose a wine that will enhance the specific argument while awakening your taste buds to a new experience.

"Nikki could serve another Zinfandel," says Dr. Kitty Fluffstein, sommelier/family counselor. "And she could also wear curlers to the grocery store and sweatpants to church. Do you think Kevin would care? Nikki should call me, because I want to tell her about a great Shiraz. Its full flavor and scornful texture are perfect for the argument the two of them need to have about why Kevin can't be less of an oaf."

Dr. Fluffstein suggests these additional pairings for our readers:

- A Pinot Noir is perfect for arguments about your spouse's recent weight gain. This particular wine is known for pairing well with virtually every food.

"You can't miss the distinct bouquet of gluttony, which will add an undertone of authority to all of your taunts and insults," Dr. Fluffstein says.

- Try Sauvignon Blanc if you are going to fight about sex. It has a lower alcohol content than most other wines.

"It doesn't scream 'inadequate,'" Dr. Fluffstein says. "That's your job. But this wine has definite weak notes that are beautifully balanced by an accusatory aftertaste."

- Any kind of "gotcha" argument can be toasted with Champagne. Whether you have caught your husband lying and cheating, or want to throw one of his many hypocrisies in his face, you can celebrate your victory over him with bubbly.

"The great thing about this pairing," Dr. Fluffstein says, "is that it extends the gotcha, which is all about shaming your husband. What could be more humiliating for him than sipping Champagne while you gleefully denounce his mistakes and lies?"

Dr. Fluffstein advises her clients to serve the Champagne in delicate glasses that the average husband is almost sure to break.

- Virtually every couple argues about money, and Dr. Fluffstein says the wine you choose will depend on whether you are a spendthrift or a cheapskate, as in this scenario:

"Let's say your husband buys something frivolous, like an ultra modern, restaurant-quality espresso machine. Aside from the fact that it doesn't match the Shabby Chic decor you painstakingly chose for your coffee corner, it cost a thousand bucks. A confrontation is inevitable, and it will go best with a Riesling. The crisp taste will pair perfectly with the sound the espresso machine makes as it shatters the kitchen window. And it has an ironic finish, which will complement the mixed bag of feelings you always get when you throw a butt load of money away."

If, on the other hand, you're the family spendthrift , Dr. Fluffstein suggests serving an exhilarating wine.

"You know what I'm talking about," Dr. Fluffstein says. "Shopping makes you high. You get a thrill from sneaking your purchases into the house and lying about their value. This drives your husband insane. So serve him a Rosé, preferably from a country that's engaged in a civil war. Look for earthy flavors, like cliff walls, goat turds, new dollar bills, and the laminate on the return counter at Macy's."

© 2012 Julie Ward



Julie Ward writes and teaches in Austin, Texas. She considers HWM her second home, mostly for tax sheltering and the occasional money laundering.


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