Wines for New Moms, Because Lord Knows They Need It

Wines for New Moms, Because Lord Knows They Need It photo

Sometimes the best entry into learning about wine is having a good friend to introduce you to new things, and explain flavor notes like a human being and not a Mad Libs robot spouting “minerality” and “terroir.” In This Calls for a Drink, certified sommelier Diane McMartin is that friend. She pairs wines *and* beers to all of life’s occasions, big and small, from breakups to Netflix binges and all of the jobs gained and lost along the way. In the funny excerpt below, McMartin provides a great public service and suggests wines and beers for new parents, who know that when 7:30 bedtimes hit, it’s wine time.

Motherhood isn’t all ladies in tasteful high-waisted dresses with cooing Gerber babies in soft focus in a field. Why are those commercials always shot in some mythical meadow? Jesus Christ, who has time to go out to the country with a toddler, a newborn, and a full-time job?! Parents are people, too, and they need to let loose once in a while! You may not be out partying all night, but you’ll still want to incorporate some fun, and of course, delicious beverages, into your new life.

Having People Over (Because You Can’t Leave Your House)

When you feel like you haven’t had contact with the outside world for months, just hosting folks from that distant planet called Earth can feel amazing. You can ask them what movies are out! Have an adult conversation with someone other than your equally sleep-deprived spouse! Plus, hosting a (very quiet) girls’ night at your place is cheaper than hiring a babysitter. Make it worth your friends’ while by having some nice Spanish rosé on hand. Provence may be the gold standard when it comes to rosé, but if you want tasty and cheap, Spain is your best bet. Open a bottle—some even come in screwcap for newbie parents too exhausted to work a corkscrew—and ply your friends with rosé-friendly snacks like smoked salmon and prosciutto with melon while you show them dozens of baby photos and share the dramatic tale of how you finally learned to breastfeed. We know, baby feet are cute, but after the tenth or so time you see them, well . . . While there are a few rosés out there that are known for their aging ability, in general, the current vintage is best. Just like a lot of baby behavior, it becomes less cute as it ages.


Clua is kind of an obscure producer, but if you live on the East Coast, you should be able to find it. Its Rosado (what the Spanish and Portuguese call rosé) tends to hover between $16 and $20—but it’s got this tart, lipsmacking cranberry quality that makes it a little too easy to drink. Martínez Lacuesta is a producer from Spain’s Rioja region, and both the white and rosé come in screwcap, are right around $10 (and you can often find them for less), and are perfect for parties (and sangria!). Muga is another Rioja producer with a widely available Rosado. It’s tart, sassy, and perfect for swilling while grazing on finger foods and watching reruns of Sex and the City, or some awful movie about male strippers.

Assembling Baby Furniture

It’s a sad fact of modern life that most affordable furniture requires at least some assembly after it’s purchased, baby furniture included. This is a cruel task to foist upon new parents. One minute, you’re daydreaming about making your own organic baby food. The next minute, the kid is actually born, and you’re eating cold Chinese takeout from three days ago while trying to assemble a playpen with so many parts it looks like it could, if assembled another way, be a replica of that particle accelerator in Switzerland. Sipping a delicious coffee-inflected stout, like Founders Breakfast Stout or Keegan Ales’ Joe Mama’s Milk, will keep you awake and mellow—even in the face of those maddening IKEA blob men. (Note: Beer brewed with coffee tastes best when it’s at its freshest, so be sure to check the date on the bottle if there is one, or buy from a store that seems like it has good turnover.)

These types of stouts also tend to have a rich, creamy mouthfeel, so in addition to the stimulating effects of caffeine, they’re great to pair with baked goods or desserts. Coffee stout with vanilla bean-flecked ice cream or chocolate chip cookies is a comforting and stimulating treat while working on a project that never seems to end.

Sleep Deprivation and Anxiety

So you’re going to need chocolate. That much is obvious. But first, rant alert: big, full-bodied dry reds like Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley do not go with chocolate. No matter how many hokey signs California Cabernet producers put up on Valentine’s Day, the actual combination in your pie hole is disgusting. What does go with chocolate are wines with those same bold-red flavors, but with the sweetness to
balance the chocolate instead of making it taste bitter.

Banyuls, a delicious, sweet fortified red from the south of France, is cheaper than Port, doesn’t have to age, and will go wonderfully with the Dove dark chocolate squares you’re stress-eating from the bag as you stay up all night thinking about the million ways in which you could accidentally kill or crush your offspring. Or ruin his life by saying the wrong thing/sending him to the wrong preschool/causing him to jump off a bridge because you didn’t have just the right reaction when he came out to you. Banyuls won’t keep you from accidentally destroying the life of a future Simon Doonan, but its deep, ripe berry flavors and satisfyingly rich mouthfeel will definitely take the edge off your nerves.

Cooking for the Kids

When you have kids, cooking becomes less an expression of self, or a way to fulfill your 2 a.m. craving for grilled cheese with Fritos pressed in between the cheese layers (what?), and more of a daily grind. Nutritious dinners, bake-sale cupcakes, picky young appetites—it’s exhausting! Anyway, whether you’re sneaking vegetables into pasta sauce or baking cookies for the annual school fundraiser, you might want something to sip while you stir. If you’re a busy parent, you probably don’t have time to keep track of a complicated matrix of what wines in your collection are ready to pop, so you’ll want a sexy, full-bodied red that’s ready to go right now. Drink it out of your biggest glass. It’ll make you feel fancy and important even if you have spit-up on your shoulder.

Keplinger Kingpin Rows Syrah is about as big and sexy as they get. Like a really expensive piece of lamb with perfect grill marks and some kind of fancy blackberry compote. From California, small producer Relic makes an unctuous, satisfying blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre called Ritual that is delicious right when it’s released. These grapes are traditional blending partners for a reason—Grenache brings that rich, ripe, almost jammy mouthfeel, while Syrah adds some dark, meaty base notes, and Mourvèdre brings a little funk. For a deep, dark Rioja with plenty of spice and vanilla from oak barrels, try Muga Selección Especial. It is probably better with a few years of age, but it’s pretty darn scrumptious upon release, too. Just don’t tell any of the big, important critics or you might have your fancy glasses confiscated by the wine police and be forced to drink out of the bejeweled plastic “pimp cup” you kept from ridiculous college parties. Or something.


Your First Night Out

When you haven’t been out in what seems like decades and the chance finally presents itself, the urge to really let loose can be strong. Unfortunately, after gestating and breastfeeding for however many months, your tolerance will not be what it once was. Don’t go all out and start ordering cocktails, or, worse, shots. You’ll be the much-older version of “that girl,” who could always be found at parties in college crying, blind drunk, in the bathroom by 11 p.m. Ease into your evening with the new crop of “session” ales and IPAs, which have a nice hit of hoppy flavor, but a bit less alcohol (typically between 4 and 5 percent ABV) than the high-octane IPAs that tend to flood the craft beer market.

Long Trail Summer Ale (4.3 percent ABV) will remind you of mowing the lawn, but in a good way—it has this fresh, grassy aroma and flavor to it that’s mellow and refreshing at the same time. Other flavors include green tea, tarragon, and just a hint of grapefruit juice. It’s great for a prelude to a night out, or an afternoon in a hammock with a magazine. Founders, out of Michigan, makes a great session IPA, called All-Day IPA (4.7 percent). A nice pop of hop flavor underscored by a little maltiness makes it easy to sip all evening, and it comes in cans, too! And if you’re a die-hard hop fan, Stone Go To IPA has almost all of the resiny, fruity, stanky hop character of their flagship beers, at a much more reasonable 4.5 percent ABV.

this-calls-for-drink-coverThis Calls for a Drink is out this month from Workman Publishing. Courtesy of Workman

Related: Crucial Wine Pairings for Whatever BBQ You’re Making

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