Meg Luce: Is your relationship more like Pinot or Cabernet? |

Meg Luce: Is your relationship more like Pinot or Cabernet?

Just like a fabulous Pinot, an extraordinary marriage doesn't happen by chance, and it is not without effort. The wine metaphor is a clever way to describe the care and tending needed to have a great marriage.
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There is a lot of wine discussion (and tasting!) that goes on at my house since my husband is a lover of the grape. I am a nondrinker and am more interested in chatting about relationships since I am captivated with all things couples therapy. My husband and I found an intersection of wine and relationships with a metaphor highlighting wine varietals, and we both appreciated it equally. I hope you like it too.

I learned about the wine and relationships metaphor in the book, “The All-or-Nothing Marriage” by Eli Finkel. The author cites a great scene in the movie “Sideways,” where one of the characters is asked why he loves Pinot Noir.

Wine connoisseur Miles, played by Paul Giamatti, knowingly chuckles to himself and sighs. “It’s a hard grape to grow … thin-skinned, temperamental … ripens early. It’s not a survivor like Cabernet, which can grow anywhere and thrive even when it’s neglected. No, Pinot needs constant care and attention.”

Miles goes on to say, “Only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it really. Only somebody who takes the time to understand Pinot’s potential can then coax it into its fullest expression. Then, I mean, its flavors, they’re just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and ancient on the planet!”

You don’t have to be a wine lover or a marriage expert to get the significance of this. Just like a fabulous Pinot, an extraordinary marriage doesn’t happen by chance, and it is not without effort. The wine metaphor is a clever way to describe the care and tending needed to have a great marriage. While it can be temperamental and thin-skinned at times (no, not you, dear), it must be coaxed along to become hauntingly brilliant and subtle yet thrilling.

Meg Luce

On the other hand, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a marriage that’s more like a sturdy Cabernet Sauvignon. It goes along and doesn’t require much effort. Maybe you don’t want to mess with a fussy Pinot kind of marriage. But then don’t expect a transcendent Pinot. Fair enough?

People expect more from marriage today than in the last 50 to 100 years. According to the research of author Eli Finkel, what was acceptable to most people back then would, for many, be considered a failure by today’s standards. Now partners want satisfaction, security, sexual heat, connection, meaning, and for gosh sakes, don’t forget to take out the trash! Plus, we have longer life spans. Spouses must deliver the goods for years on end! It’s not unachievable, but it does take effort.

I find that many people expect copious amounts of “Pinot” flowing from their partner day and night. And like Miles says, Pinot is tricky stuff to make! You’ve got to have just the right conditions and a master winemaker to cajole it into existence. To make the metaphor even more precise, you’ve got to have two dedicated winemakers on the job for a fabulous marriage.

A good question to ask yourself to receive all the goodies you want from your partner (quaff, quaff) is the following. I am borrowing this excellent question from master couples therapist Dr. Peter Pearson of The Couples Institute. Get your sharpie ready; here it is: What do I do that gets in the way of my partner giving me what I want?

Better yet, ask your partner this question. If you want that luscious Pinot, go ahead and find out. The answer will help you get out of your own way to create an amazing relationship.

If you have a Pinot kind of marriage, does this mean you should expect daily ecstasy? Speaking from personal experience here, no, you should not. (Sorry, honey.) Part of nurturing a great marriage is holding the knowledge that sometimes you will get off-track. Rather than blaming your partner and waiting for them to fix everything, you, yourself, can get the good feelings flowing again.

Have you coaxed your marriage into its full potential? Anything brilliant, subtle, or thrilling going on? If you would like to create something truly exquisite, it’s not too late. Cheers to that!

Meg Luce, M.S., is a Marriage and Family Therapist in Grass Valley specializing in helping couples create satisfying relationships. You can find her contact info at


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