Few modern etiquette questions are quite as perplexing as what wine to take along to a party. There are many potential minefields along this journey and, unfortunately, you won’t know if you’ve committed a faux pas until the moment comes when you hand the bottle over to your hosts. Just like what you’ve chosen to wear and what conversation you make, the wine you bring will say a lot about you and make an impression — good or bad.
The Perils of Spending Too Much or Too Little
If the occasion is a dinner party, you’ve no way of knowing beforehand what’s on the menu or whether or not your offering will match the food. This shouldn’t matter, as the wine is a gift and shouldn’t be expected to accompany the night’s dishes. Instead, it should be such a nice wine that the party hosts will look forward to consuming later at their leisure.
Of course, we all know this doesn’t happen. Once a party gets going, the sensible prescribed alcohol on the table invariably runs out, and those looking for an extra glass or two turn to the wine that the guests have brought. Hoping your wine will escape scrutiny or remain anonymous by sitting in the kitchen along with the others is by no means a certainty. If you’ve plumped for a $4.99 cheapie from the garage on the way there, they’ll catch you out. This is less likely to occur at a standing drinks party, so you may get away with cheapskate practices in that instance. You can avoid this pitfall and still find something good to drink by searching for good wine deals online and keeping some decent stocks at home.
The reverse of this situation is where you take a lovely chilled bottle of expensive champagne, expecting it will be opened and you’ll enjoy some of it yourself, and the host politely accepts and goes to put it away. This can be terribly disappointing, but again it’s wise to remember that the wine is a gift and there’s no guarantee you’ll get a taste.
This will turn out to be even more annoying if the wine you are then given to drink is really rather cheap and nasty, but you must grin and bear it. If the worst comes to the worst, you can slyly decant it into a plant pot.
Whether to take one bottle or two is another modern conundrum. If there are two of you attending, it’s more polite to take two, as that way you are both effectively making a contribution. And let’s face it, you’ll drink more anyway.
Another tickly question about modern manners is whether it’s impolite to top up your own glass. This can be frustrating when the bottle is sitting right in front of you and your glass has been empty for ages. Helping yourself with impunity is not a good idea, but a quick “May I?” and a nod of assent should smooth the passage. After all, it’s hard for a host to say no to the guests! Throw in a compliment about the food and you should be fine on this score.
Finding the right wine for a party doesn’t have to get you all in a nervous wreck, and you don’t have to empty your savings either just to impress your dinner hosts. Check out some of the deals for wine online and you can still be the perfect dinner guest, one who has impeccable taste.