Adele is one of my oldest friends. OK, not really. But since she released her first album, "19," in 2008, she’s been at my side through the ups and downs of my 20s and now, 30s.
When I ended my first relationship, she was there with "First Love," putting into song my competing feelings of guilt and ambivalence. "Rolling in the Deep" accompanied my frantic, nonrhythmic dancing every time it was played at bars or weddings. Her third album, "25," dropped a few years after I graduated university — I was in the throes of my first real job, yet struggling personally, a confusing period of quarter-life crisis and existential angst.
Amidst those heady, confusing years of young adulthood, an Adele album was an invitation to pop open a bottle of wine, alone or with friends. To paradoxically feel sophisticated while also dulling the feelings her albums would inevitably stir.
Released today, her latest album, "30," almost invites the same — one track is dubbed I Drink Wine for goodness sake. But if "25" found me drinking a bottle of wine to drown my tears, "30" is a sensible single glass and a walk in the park as the sun fades to gather my thoughts and clear my head. The new album is more dynamic than her previous efforts, self-assured and confident, and Adele has preternaturally echoed my own life stage yet again.
I’m personally gearing up to enjoy a long bath with a glass of red with my bestie, because the wine writer in me can’t help but pair her latest album with a beverage. But as Adele’s musical references, from nods to Judy Garland to gospel to Motown and beyond, mark a growth in her lyrics and delivery, so too have I looked beyond wine to drink while savoring 30 and her soaring exploration of motherhood, love, divorce, and self-care.
"Strangers By Nature"
The first song off the album and redolent with languid strings, Adele croons about new love, singing “I’ve never seen the sky this color before, it’s like I’m noticing everything a little bit more.” If that doesn’t describe Gulp Hablo’s orange verdejo-sauvignon blanc blend, I don’t know what does — it’s the eye-opening color of an autumn sunset, and on the palate, tastes like apricots and candied citrus peel.
"Easy on Me": The power of Adele’s voice on this, the album’s first single, echo her other hits "Someone Like You" and "Hello" — a reminder of her control, range and depth as a singer. Champagne’s L. Aubry Fils Brut is classic, with dusky honeyed tones and the slightest hint of sweet pear. A splurge, but I, for one, am toasting to the return of a queen.
"My Little Love": I am not a parent and I don’t plan on being one anytime soon, but "My Little Love" is sobering and heightens my fear that I’m probably gonna fail as a caregiver! This beverage pairing can go one of two ways: A stiff classic martini for a bit of a reality check that actually, my failings may not be just in my head, after all! (I don’t skip the vermouth, and, in fact, prefer the soft gentian-and-floral flavors of Italian varieties, like Cocchi Americano.)
Or option B: A nonalcoholic wine-adjacent drink, like Acid League’s Wine Proxies, which give my hands something to do (say, moodily hold a wine glass) but I can remain clear-headed about my life choices without spiraling. Either way, I’m still cryin’.