When these two met, he was one of Toronto's most esteemed sommeliers and she was newly sober – a pairing that may seem illogical to some. But six years and a baby later, they're making it work.
Who: Jen McNeeley, 38, writer and founder of She Does the City blog. Jamie Drummond, 46, sommelier and wine consultant.
Relationship status: Common-law partners since 2013, parents.
Location: Beaconsfield Village, Toronto.
How they met …
Jen: We were both in relationships when we first met, but I remember thinking he was really charming. We would run into each other at industry events. Jamie once sent me a Facebook message asking me to meet him in the park for a glass of rose. I was still married. And sober.
Jamie: But I didn't know that.
Jen: Later I saw him at a restaurant opening. He was telling stories about the vibrant single life. I told him I was happy to hear it. My marriage had just ended.
Jamie: And then I said, "Well, actually, it's completely soul-crushing." For all the bravado, I'm a relationship person. This was around the holidays. I went home to Scotland, and was just miserable.
Jen: I remember being in my backyard that Christmas Eve, chain-smoking and thinking life is bad. I reached out to Jamie the next week.
Jamie: It was Jan. 2. Out of the blue, I get a Facebook message.
Jen: It said, "You seem fun and open-minded. Would you be interested in coming over for a slow dance?"
Figuring it out …
Jen: Very early on, Jamie invited me on a first-class trip to anywhere in Europe, which he had won as part of a wine competition. I remember telling my friends, "We haven't even hooked up yet and this guy has invited me on a dream vacation." I told him that I might not make the best travel companion because I had just finished my first year of sobriety.
Jamie: And then Jen went away to a wedding with her mom, and I went to the library and checked out every book I could find about addiction. I think maybe both of us saw it as a challenge.
Jen: Jamie has a lot to do with my ongoing sobriety and recovery. He helped me just be comfortable and okay with it. In past relationships, I would drink to avoid confrontation. Jamie and I tend to face issues head-on.
Making it work …
Jen: Figuring out our situation has been trial and error.
Jamie: There are certain things that will go down in history as being "a bad idea." Like the time when the Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration sent me a case of wine for Chardonnay Day. I had a bunch of industry people over to our house. Jen was away.
Jen: I was at an AA meeting! I got home and there were a bunch of men standing around our living room singing, "Chardonnay, chardonnay, chardonnay."
Jamie: I do try to be respectful. I'm incredibly proud of Jen.
Jen: And I try to be respectful of Jamie's profession. There are times when I wish we could have a drink together. Sometimes I think maybe in 20 years when our son is grown up and we're on a vineyard in France. Maybe then I'll give it a shot. I don't know if I ever would, but the fantasy gives me a little breathing room.