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Wine Etiquette

Sorry if this has been discussed here, but......
Is there a wine etiquette when someone comes for dinner and brings a bottle of wine?
Should you open it and serve it? Or, if you have a special wine picked out for the meal,
how do you (politely) not serve the wine they brought? And, conversley,
if you bring wine to a dinner should you expect it to be served?
I always wonder about this. Thanks

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  1. you don't have to serve it, IMO, if you already have wine picked out for the meal. If you feel bad about it, just tell the guests you've already opened some.

    1. i have always read that it is not obligatory to serve a bottle brought by a guest unless that has been established beforehand. As to how to "frame" that if someone was expected their gift to be served (and it was not planned that way), I welcome suggestions.

      1. if you bring wine, you should not expect it to be served.

        if you're hosting, respond with a "thank you, this will make a nice treat one evening for me & dear one" and put aside. It's NOT required to serve wine guests bring.

        1 Reply
        1. re: orangewasabi

          I totally agree. In my house, I usually have a bottle open when guests get there (you always need a glass when cooking). I do feel a little obligation to serve the one that they brought if we do a 2nd bottle (but that's just me being neurotic). The only time I feel obligated to open it is if it was discussed beforehand as the "something" that someone could bring. Even then, if we don't drink very much wine, I don't feel badly if it's not been opened.

        2. Just say thank you. i do have some frineds who have the silly notion that there is no white wine worth drinking. They always bring a bottle of red so that they won't have to endure white. We all know this and indulge them. But I usually have a bottle of red on hand for them.

          1. The only rule set in stone that I know of regarding wine is: there are no rules.
            Usually I pick the wine list well in advance, and guests wines go to storage.
            But not unfrequently a guest will show up with the unexpected and it gets opened right away.

            1. A guest cannot bring something to a host and expect it to be served unless there is a previous understanding, either express or by prior practice in the social circle. It's in fact quite rude to expect it otherwise. The guest is supposed to present the wine as something for the host(s) to enjoy later, and the host should graciously accept it even if it's something they will not enjoy (and, in the latter case, tag the bottle later to avoid awkward regifting to the giver...).

              1. Well, it .. you know ... depends. Generally, if someone brings wine, you can serve it or not as it fits into the rest of the menu.

                Then again, there's the special friend who calls ahead to find out the menu, caters to your own preferences, brings really nice bottles that people will enjoy tasting.

                OPEN that puppy!

                1. If you are asked to bring wine as a contribution to the meal, expecting to drink what you bring is fine. In that situation you might consider bringing a different bottle as a gift for your host(s) to enjoy alone, another time. But if you are bringing wine as a gift you should not expect to drink it, because it's gift. If it's a botle you really want to drink, bring two and tell your host(s) to save one.

                  1. It's generally not expected that anything a guest brings, wine or not, be served that night.

                    I do try, when possible, to hang on to the bottles that my friends bring until the next time they come over, so that the person who bought it in the first place can eventually taste what he/she bought.

                    1. As a guest bringing a wine, I like to give something that my hosts can enjoy later, unless the occassion was a "bring something to share" type of event. Then I normally inquire of the hosts as to the menu and type of wine they are intending to serve.

                      1. If someone brings wine, you are no more obligated to serve it that night than you are to serve the chocolates someone else brought - a gracious thank-you for a "hostess gift" should do (and I'd rather have the wine than a bunch of flowers any day)

                        1. Hm. This (below) from Cooking Light magazine, surprised me. I disagree; I'm with you guys....

                          "When a dinner guest brings a bottle of wine as a gift, should you open and serve it?

                          Yes. Though there’s no way to be sure of your guest’s intention, wine is about communal sharing and fun. So unless the guest specifically requests that you keep and enjoy it later, serve it. Your guest will be pleased. And if you already had a wine you planned to serve, serve both. Tasting both wines will be an educational experience."


                          1. We tend to open wines to share with our guests who brought them. We always have a red and a white available with hors d'oeuvres in the living room and additional wines at the ready for dinner, but when someone brings something, we try to honor their selection by sharing it with them. BTW, we do the same when guests bring chocolate. I put the box on the table when dessert is being served.

                            1. I bring the wine for them to enjoy on another occasion. If they choose to open the wine I say nothing but I certainly don't expect them to open it. I would, however, like some feedback so I'm going to wait awhile and ask my last host (Friday night Shabbat dinner) how they liked the wine. It was Israeli and I never tasted an Israeli wine. I wanted Kosher to honor the occasion (I'm not Jewish but was very pleased to be asked).

                              1. Wine is a gift and you may either choose to serve it or drink it another day. Either approach is polite. What is not polite is to expect or demand that the wine be served.

                                1. I definitely agree that it is a gift and you shouldn't feel obligated to open it.

                                  However, sometimes people bring over wines that they specifically want to share with you. I try to incorporate it in the meal, and usually we open it to enjoy during hors d'oeuvres.

                                  1. Obviously it's an issue if all these people have weighed in one way or another. The key is taking the time to find just the right words to say why you're not opening it - if that's what you want to do. Someone up above said to say you've already opened something. Even if it's a lie? For shame! Someone else said some BS about how it'll be nice to share with a loved one. What-EVER! Just say it the way YOU want. But use your brain. Be creative. Be eloquent. Be witty. Be kind.

                                    1. I feel like you are not obligated to open it and I often have this same dilemma.
                                      My boyfriend's many many friends are wonderful and have known each other since they were all five. Often we have several of them over plus my friends and mutual friends for dinner parties. Generally, the "boys" don't bring anything, not that this is required, but is I think sort of common courtesy and they complain if you don't bring something to their house. When they do bring a bottle of wine they expect it to be opened immediately (and have said so.) I always try to smile and divert them with another bottle that is already open but eventually they always remember and demand that their bottle be opened. The problem is, that there is never enough for everyone to try more then a sip which annoys the person who brought the wine.
                                      I don't want to be the one to "educate" them on bringing a hostess gift or that if there isn't enough perhaps it shouldn't be opened--but it really is starting to become an annoyance...we are hosting a dinner party on Saturday and this is the only part I am dreading.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: jturtle

                                        Although I am very firmly in the camp of hostess gifts being exactly that and that you shouldn't have to serve wine that's brought as a hostess gift, if they are so insistent, I'd go ahead and do so, just to avoid any brouhaha over the issue.

                                      2. I have a relative who doesn't cook but loves to bring the wine. I buy some just in case but I will usually serve his because he calls and tells me what he is bringing. I tell him, in advance what I am serving. On occasion, we open his to drink with appetizers. However, he has told me that he would not be offended if we "saved" the wine he brings.

                                        1. When I bring wine as a guest, I don't expect it to be served, nor mind if the host chooses to serve it. When guests bring wine, I generally thank them and put it aside; I've already chosen wines for the party or meal. If a guest asks me to open a wine they've brought, I oblige them. It's not that hard.