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Wine Glasses as a Host(ess) Gift?

We're often invited to have dinner at the home of friends who entertain nicely in terms of the food and wine they serve, but their wine glasses are so small, the wine can hardly be appreciated. Would it be an insult if we were to bring a fairly nice set of wine glasses as a hostess gift?

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  1. I'd say so, Cindy for several reasons. First you're getting them something you think they need, perhaps not what they want or desire. Secondly, how many glasses would you present as a gift: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 or a dozen? Waterford Crystal ones that perhaps might be much better than what they have? They may be entirely happy with the set they have. Third, I am sure they would be able to deduce later, "gee, that's odd; Cindy and DH must think we needed new wine glasses." I'd stick with flowers or a bottle of wine.

    1 Reply
    1. re: scoopG

      I think it's a great idea. But not those gigantic balloon wine glasses, only because of the perception of wine to glass, but the middle of the line wine glasses. As nice as you can get. Oh, and perhaps a nice bottle of wine to go with them.

      Alternatively, I've also done the bottle of vodka and martini glasses. Also appreciated.

    2. I think it depends on the friends. We have some friends who love wine, but somehow over time and with breakage have ended up with a somewhat motley crue of glasses that they've just not replaced themselves. I keep meaning to get them some Riedel Vinum ones for a birthday gift or something - but a set of six or 8. I think giving them for something other than a hostess gift might be better - since you presumably are going over there to drink wine as well as eat and they might take it the wrong way.

      Do you think that they *know* the glasses are "too small"?

      10 Replies
      1. re: MMRuth

        No, I really don't think they know. They've only recently begun to pay attention to the wine they serve. And I just have a feeling that (1) no one has ever commented on their wine glasses, (2) they've never made a connection between wine and wine glasses in other people's homes, and (3) they don't know that there's a reason to have different size/shape wine glasses. The wine glasses they use are very lovely, but very small -- maybe 6 ounce capacity.

        1. re: CindyJ

          Honestly - I would not do it yet based on what you've said. Though - here's an idea. Do they have just one set of glasses? If they like a particular wine - say Pinot Noir - and you got the Riedel Vinum a box of 4 for that varietal, you could then say - "we know you've gotten to love Pinot Noir, and these glasses are supposed to be particular "good" for drinking it etc."

          1. re: MMRuth

            Thanks, MMRuth -- I really like that idea. And I think they consider me "quirky" enough that they'd consider it more an eccentric gift than a commentary on their present stemware.

            This whole issue is kind of bubbling in my head as a new post on a whole new topic, namely, whether Chowhounds are more likely to notice things like too-small wine glasses, slightly-off wine pairings, and a host of other not-horrible-but-not-quite-right food preparation or food service examples. Are we too fussy? Eccentric? Over the top? What does it say about us that these things seem to matter more to us than to so many other people? I think this IS a whole new topic...

            1. re: CindyJ

              As long as they are not serving wine in paper cups there is no reason to complain about the size of your friends serving glasses. Slightly off wine pairings? That's another matter but you really have no choice when you are a guest in someone's home. And what will you do if they re-gift your 4-glass wine set or never produce them to use when you visit the next time?

              1. re: scoopG

                Maybe I should clarify -- I've NEVER complained or even commented about wine glasses or anything else a gracious host(ess) serves or uses. I'm really not an insensitive dolt, and I always appreciate the thought, time and effort that goes into a home-prepared meal. As for re-gifting -- oh, well... I'd never say anything about THAT, either.

              2. re: CindyJ

                I think that whenever you go over to someone else's place for dinner or what-not, you have to expect that things will be different and accept them and not point out "not-horrible-but-not-quite right" food issues. For all you know, your friends might like small wineglasses for aesthetic reasons or whatever. Some people are not really concerned with such niceties. What's most important is that someone took the time to think of you and go to the trouble to prepare a meal for you. At the end of the day, eating or drinking with the wrong utensils/glasses means very little compared to good times with your friends.

              3. re: MMRuth

                bottle of pinot noir + special vinum glasses = nice gift on some occasion other than you showing up to eat and drink wine.

                glasses as a hostess gift? i think it implies that the hosts are inadequate in their hospitality.

                1. re: alkapal

                  Really? I'd NEVER show up to dinner at someone's home empty-handed.

                  1. re: CindyJ

                    I don't think alkapal thought that you would show up empty handed, and his/her concern was the one I did have - that to bring it to the dinner *could* lead to that interpretation, fwiw.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      i always bring a hostess gift. usually wine or flowers.

                      my post was in reference to bringing the glasses as a hostess gift (thus above post edited to clarify).

          2. Whenever my sister comes over for a party she brings me a hostess gift, hands it to me giftwrapped, and says her standard line: "You NEED this, open this NOW." I open, I always love it, and I do use it. And, sometimes it's something for serving that I do not have; sometimes it's an addition to what I do have and I didn't really need it "NOW" but she did not know that. Either way, I am delighted that I was brought something that I can use and enjoy. I think people really appreciate receiving what they need but have not obtained for themselves. I do not think that you need to wait for a birthday. You go over there a lot, it sounds like, so take it next time you go. I don't think we have to be worried about hurting their feelings about their hosting skills--that would not have even crossed my mind, but that's just me!

            1. I would do as another poster suggested - buy a bottle of wine with 4 wineglasses that "go" with that wine. I really hate when you go to a restaurant, order an expensive bottle of wine and they give you "dinky" glasses. We have actually opted to use water glasses rather than the "dinky" ones. I can't think that they'd be insulted. I have more wine/cocktail glasses than you can imagine and still have been gifted with more because they are "unusual". I don't mind in the least except that I try to remember who gave me which funky martini glasses, etc. so I can use them when they are here. JMHO, Linda

              1. After reading through the thread, it seems like most people have said most of what I'd say in this case; except for this: the "occasion" you need to offer such a gift is already at hand. You write that these friends invite you over often; a thank you present for such generosity and hospitality is entirely appropriate and I would think something that would be gratefully received. MMRuth's lovely suggestion of stemware suited to their favorite varietal or a good all purpose set of glasses as a token of appreciation sounds like a perfect idea.

                1. I'd bring a set of wine glasses and say "I happened to see these, and I thought you'd enjoy them." If they never use them don't mention it ever again.

                  1. I would be happy if someone brought me wine glasses as a hostess gift. You might want to consider a gift of stemless glasses, which I've started to enjoy, and avoid any "insult" by presenting them as something sort of new-fangled.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: susan1353

                      Something similar happened to me. I often have breakfast or brunch for my family and in laws. I have an assortment of juice glasses, really just the soul survivors of previous sets. My sister in law gave me 12 matching juice glasses for a gift for something, I think my birthday and I was very insulted. For one, they were from KMart and two, this coming from a woman who served Christmas dinner (ice cold ham) to 8 people on plastic plates with plastic utensils. Needless to say I still use my glasses and her KMart glasses are collecting dust in the basement.

                      But I do think if they were actually "nice" glasses and came from someone who had a little bit of a clue about food/dining/entertaining, etc. I would have been more receptive.

                      1. re: susan1353

                        I have a few of the Reidel "O" Stemless wine glasses and love them. They go in the dishwasher without breaking and are not very expensive. They would make a great gift, although I think it would be nice for an occasion (birthday, anniversary, xmas). Wine, flowers/candy more appropriate for hostess gift.

                      2. Depends on the friends. Personally I'd be tickled pink to get some nice wine glasses -one can never have too many! I especially like the idea of paring the gift with a bottle of a suitable varietal.

                        It's a very generous gift I think, and shows some thought beyond the usual bottle of wine/chocolate/flowers host(ess) gift.

                        1. I will confess that I have not read all the posts here, but must tell you about the Reidel seminar that we attended on a recent cruise. Each person was given 4 wine glasses, pinot noir, cabernet, chardonnay and chablis(?) glasses, plus one basic restaurant wine glass. First they poured the pinot into the pinot glass, which we tasted and then poured into the extra glass and tasted. Tasted cabernet in the cabernet glass, then poured it into the pinot glass to taste. It was amazing how different each wine tasted from each glass. The most amazing thing was that I always thought that pinot was a very thin wine with little flavor. What this proved was that I was just drinking it out of the wrong glass. We were totally amazed by the difference. I would definitely go for the idea of the Reidel glasses, possibly with the bottle of wine, and what someone suggested about saying something about knowing that they like that kind of wine.
                          By the way, I bought Waterford crystal a number of years ago in Ireland, and my DH refuses to use them because he says that they are not good for drinking wine from.

                          1. Gifts are always nice and wine glasses are great, useful, pretty and often need replacing due to breakage. I think it's a great idea especially If you know them well and know their taste

                            1. We received one of the most thoughtful gifts from a "regular" to our parties. An inexpensive plain crystal set from Costco and each glass was filled with something-Reese's minis, orchids, pretty tea towels. They knew some other "regulars" frequently broke glasses and I found the gift so thoughtful and unexpected I nearly cried. I never expect anything other than the company of friends but WOW!

                              If you've got good friends a heartfelt gift should be appreciated by any host(ess) and never looked at for "deeper meaning".