Wines to Drink Alone

1955:  A woman in a matching dress and bolero proposes a toast.  (Photo by Chaloner Woods/Getty Images)
1955: A woman in a matching dress and bolero proposes a toast. (Photo by Chaloner Woods/Getty Images)


My "George Winston" Pandora station quietly plays piano in the living room. The orange blossom aroma-therapy candle wafts soft fragrances through the house. The cats snuggle next to each other on the couch. The dog is asleep on her bed. I sit in a comfortable, living-room chair, computer on my lap, writing, wine glass on the table next to me.

My family is gone.

And I am so happy.

Moms aren't really supposed to say those kinds of things, but it's true. I treasure the times I'm alone in my house, and my family has been away for almost a week, skiing at Snowbird, Utah.

Here are the highlights:

  • The kitchen sink holds just one teacup and a spoon.
  • The living room is clean and has been for days.
  • The food in the refrigerator hasn't been touched.
  • The dishwasher "Clean" light is on.
  • The TV is off.
  • No kid socks sit on the dining room table, living room floor or stairs.
  • The only things in the dirty laundry basket belong to me.

Since I have been a mom for most of my adult life, I secretly study my friends and family who don't have kids, and now and then, I get to dip my toe into their lives. Everything stays exactly where you put it, with nothing added. The life is so sophisticated, so mature so glamorous.

When my family is gone, it feels a lot like the day after we turn our clocks back each fall. I feel like I'm ahead of everything. I get up early, work out joyfully, eat healthy breakfasts, and arrive early to meetings ... I feel like I'm on some kind of productivity drug.

The wine I choose when my family is away deserves great contemplation; I have serious time to deeply consider which wine to pull out for myself.

In fact, maybe this is the sommelier in me, but I truly don't understand the saying, "Never drink alone." Isn't that the best time to drink? How amazing to calmly enjoy a glass of wine without any responsibilities, just savoring the quiet and taste with your feet up.

The wines I choose to drink when I'm alone are often from the Rhône region--the Perrin Family makes some beautiful ones. Why Rhône?

It is a world of complexity in one region.

First, it is divided into two separate sub-regions: Northern Rhône and Southern Rhône.

Northern Rhône grapes are super simple to understand: Syrah for reds and Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier (pronounced vee-ohn-yeah) for whites.

The most famous appellation for wine here is Côte Rôtie, which means roasted slope. Their reds are made from Syrah, often with a bit of Viognier (yes, a white) added to both soften the bigness of the Syrah and layer in fruity and floral aromatics.

Côte Rôtie whites are a blend of Marsanne and Roussanne, which makes a wine that is way more interesting than any plain ol' Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio. They are deep and soulful, with some rich, rustic notes that add dimension. Perfect parings for the George Winston radio station on Pandora.

Southern Rhône allows growers to plant 23 different grapes in their region, with Grenache Noir (for reds) and Grenache Blanc (for whites) taking up most of the acreage.

Southern Rhône has quite a few famous appellations:

  • Châteauneuf-du-Pape (pronounced sha-toh-neuf-deu-pahp) - offers mostly reds that are made of 2/3rds Grenache Noir. This area is known for its unusual soil, made up of grapefruit-sized stones called "galets."
  • Côtes du Rhône - offers mostly reds made primarily from Grenache Noir. I look for wines from this area when I want great taste without shelling out big money.
  • Tavel - offers dry rosés made from Grenache Noir and a grape called Cinsault (pronounced sahn-soh)

These wines are great with or without a meal, or popcorn, or chips and hummus, or whatever you're eating when you don't have to make dinner for the crew.

I finish my glass of Côtes du Rhône. Almost in a trance, I walk to the china hutch pull out a snifter, wash it carefully and pour a couple ounces of Amaretto into it.

A snifter??!

My sophisticated, mature, glamorous time alone isn't having the effect I envisioned. I am becoming my father. Next I'll be puffing on a pipe and tying flies.

The family better get home before I start growing hair in my ears.

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