On Account of Wine

There are as many theories about what makes relationships work as there are wine varieties. One prominent topic related to relationships is that of reciprocity. We have all sat for many hours listening to people tell Rashomon-like tales of give and take and rationalize about why a relationship eventually failed due to the relative generosity of one and the selfishness of the other. Of course, there are at least two sides to every story; sitting still long enough and watching your own, as well as other people’s, patterns is the way to learn the most — it yields the biggest clues to cracking the most important codes. While listening to some of these tales I often wait for the part about how home finances were handled. While other matters can be very complex, this issue is often very simple: either each partner maintains his or her own account or there is a common pot or pool that both draw from. First of all, I do not know how you can have a real relationship if two people draw from separate accounts; this takes all the fun and give and take out of it. So, I am really speaking to those who have a common pool or aspire to one. For better or for worse, The Nose has never been much of a calculator, has never kept a ledger before bills arrive. I like to spend on feel; when I feel I’m maxed out, I stop. All I can say is: so far, so good. From those who pull money from the same pocket, I have heard great stories about how they buy wine. There are those who go to the grocery store together, but one beats the other to the car to stash the wine before the grocery shopper arrives. Recently, I heard one partner tell how he had taken the wine to the window well, entered through the front door, and then at the appropriate moment opened the basement window and slid it through to the cellar. Getting the wines unboxed and systematically shelved quickly is another way to avoid detection. The Nose has no set structural method of shelving: I have California Cabs in one area; some mixed French in another; everyday drinking wines in another. This can be helpful to one, and conveniently confusing for another. Another thing I have noticed is that while one partner might complain about the other’s spending habits when it comes to wine, it is often that same partner who requests that a nice bottle be opened this evening, please. Sharing wine is one of the best means of practicing reciprocity. After a few glasses, most “disagreements” change their tune and tenor.

(April 2002)