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Rude guests bringing wine - should I have served it?

I'm still brooding about this one, and am wondering if I reacted badly... what are your thoughts?

Some friends/accquaintances here (we generally walked our dogs together), decided to move back to Australia. They're generally nice people, though the wife is more than a little bit neurotic (She had a long running feud with her neighbour that involved many panicked phone calls to us and her husband, and from what I know - no communication with the neighbour besides mutual setting off of car alarms at unfriendly times. She also spent a great deal of time on her own as her husband travelled quite a bit for business, and made no effort to go anywhere by herself or really do anything aside from walk her poor dog into the ground at least three times a day). We invited them for a farewell dinner at our home.

The wife had seen our barbecue and mentioned that she would like her husband to buy her a proper grill rather than the cheap ones that she's had to make due with in the past. So, we decided that we would grill some steaks to show it off a bit. I bought an absolutely wonderful beef fillet to serve.

When they arrived, they brought some wine along with them - an Australian (Wyndham's Bin 555), and a bottle of Mateus Rose. (Now, maybe I'm being a bit of a snob here, but Mateus was always the "joke" wine, akin to Baby Duck that you drank when you were a teenager.) Since we were having steak, I decided to open the Shiraz, as I didn't feel that the Rose would really complement the beef all that well.

Supper went well (though the wife asked for her beautiful fillet to be well-done. I had jokingly said to my husband earlier that if anyone asked for well-done, they could have pasta. We're a blue rare/medium rare household). I sucked it up, butterflied her beautiful steak, and proceeded to make a baseball glove out of it. Once we were done with the Shiraz, I brought out another Australian red wine (cabernet-merlot - can't remember the winery), which was met with approval.

When that bottle was done, as we were still eating, I brought out an American zinfandel (I loves me some zin). Once the wife found out it was American and not Aussie, she took one sip, proceeded to make gagging noises, started to exclaim about how horrible it was, and asked me why I didn't serve the lovely Mateus. I went into the kitchen, opened a different bottle of Australian red, took her glass of American zin, and poured her a fresh glass. I also mentioned that I thought that the rose would be far too light after the heavier reds that we had been drinking. I poured a glass of the zinfandel for myself, at which point she remarked "Kali_MM, you'll be giving yourself a terrible headache the next day".

I kept my temper, reminded myself that we didn't need to see them again, and we finished out the evening. I've been wondering since - was my response appropriate? Should I have broken down and served the Mateus? I found the wife's reaction to be incredibly rude - should I have not bit my tongue and said something instead? What would you have done?

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  1. I think the gagging was a bad joke of course because they are moving to Australia. No real harm there, just a stupid comment. Her comment about the Mateus shows that she doesn't really know about wine and doesn't really care either, but that maybe she wanted some of the wine she brought. It would have been a good time to serve it actually. I would have said, "well I can open it for you if you like" and done just that. It didn't mean that you had to drink it or pour it for everyone else.

    I think it was a waste to keep serving her your nicer bottles because she wouldn't know the difference anyway. Her palate is further revealed by the well done steak request.

    Something tells me you don't like her much anyway and obviously don't know them well enough to understand her sense of humor. After a few glasses of wine her inhibitions were a little loose and she just said the first thing that came to her mind. The fact that you were a couple glasses in and not in a good mood (don't blame you) made it into what it is now.

    4 Replies
    1. re: HaagenDazs

      I agree with this post, and would just add that a lot of people (who aren't terribly aware of the etiquette of these things) bring wine to an occasion hoping to drink it and expecting that the host will open it.

      Always interesting discussions here when it comes to wine. Seems that wine lovers sometimes need to accept that not everyone appreciates good wine, and some people never will and don't care. Just as long as nobody takes it personally.

      I'd also just echo what a few other people have said about the Australian sense of humor. I've definitely noticed it living in England and knowing a few Australians. It's easy to take offense if you're not used to it.

      1. re: HaagenDazs

        And how so had you been invited to her house and brought your lovely reds and she served you only her Mateus because she likes it? Would you have been offended had she not served your wine which you brought because you not only enjoyed it and wanted to share a gift with your host? One should consider the other side before being offended. I don't like reds at all. I like sweeter wines so I bring what I like and I really don't care whether it "goes" with anything or not. I drink wine because it is comforting to me and is my preferred alcoholic beverage. I find it bad manners to serve what you want, not what your guests want. I would walk out of a restaurant if they served me what they wanted rather than what I ordered. Gasp...bad manners.

        1. re: marneybrown

          In a restaurant, you order what you want; you are the paying customer, and should be served what you ordered. As a guest in someone's home, you eat/drink whatever is served. The host may always choose to serve/not serve a gift that a guest has brought.

          1. re: pikawicca

            Correct. So many people have lost sight of the proper role of guests vs hosts. The guest's job is to smile, be sociable, accept the host's hospitality, and be gracious. The host is not a restaurateur.

      2. I agree with most of what HaggenDazs says and think you should have just served the Mateus if you got the impression that your guest wanted it. I mean, what're you going to do with it now?

        3 Replies
        1. re: adrienne156

          exactly: serve it to her, then hand her the bottle to take home with her so she can make a lovely drip candle holder to memorialize the evening.


          1. re: karmalaw

            that is funny!! Brings me back to the early 70's!

            1. re: macca

              Right on, you guys. Though now that you mentioned the drip candle and the 70s, maybe a Polaroid to document the whole experience. ;) Here's to eating meals and sharing wines with people we actually like--may we find more of this activity in the coming year! CHEERS! *<:)

        2. Agree with HaagenDazs. She brought the Mateus and asked you to serve it. I would've served it to her or anyone else who wanted it, regardless. Poor etiquette on her part in lots of ways, but pushing back against her wasn't worth your aggravation. Sounds like you would not likely have ever had the Mateus yourself anyway. Life's too. short to let her get under your skin

          1. "It would have been a good time to serve it actually. I would have said, "well I can open it for you if you like" and done just that. It didn't mean that you had to drink it or pour it for everyone else."

            Exactly. Couldn't have said it better myself.

            1. knowing and choosing what you like is your right- dictating what others should/can enjoy starts you into a grey zone, some would argue there's nothing grey about it. I agree with others, you should have just served her the wine that she wanted, to not do so after she asked for it is quite pointed and probably hurt her feelings.

              1. also agree with HaagenDazs.

                1. If you look at it from the other side (aren't we all great chowhound psychoanalysts), she probably went home and complained to her husband that you didn't even bother to serve the wine that SHE brought. (as a kid, I'd listen to my folks gripe how friends would 'save' wine brought by my parents yet serve 'cheaper' stuff).

                  I'm far from a wine expert, but I do occasionally have company over and try to highlight select wines with either a meal or just nibbles. People oftentimes bring a few bottles themselves.
                  I try my best to fit those wines into the evening, even if they're 'joke' wines (whats joke to me may be someone's go-to wine at home, I don't know) - "Does anyone want me to open this one?"

                  If they don't end up being served, I'll offer them to the guest when leaving. I don't want it to seem like I'm 'saving' their bottle while serving plonk (no problem with serving plonk, just not at the expense of 'their' bottle).

                  I think if she said "why didn't you serve the lovely Mateus" then just open 'er up, offer it to everyone at the table with fresh glasses, and say you'd prefer to continue on with the reds.
                  But thats me.
                  It is difficult to guage out of context, but I think she was rude rather than joking (or doesn't realize how rude her joking is).

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: porker

                    Interesting call. I usually gift wines to my hosts. Often, they are served during my stay (can be dinner, or a long weekend), but sometimes they are not. These are gifted to the hosts, so it is there call. It is for them, and it is to be served, when they find appropriate. Now, I did offer up some great 1er Cru Bordeaux once, and during the stay, we did some great American Kobe beef. I silently expected to see one of my wines on the table, but alas, it was not to be. Instead, we had some rather pedestrian Cabs. My wife asked how I thought the Bdx. would work, and I replied in rather hushed tones, "it should have gone very well." My host commented that he had some friends, who were heavily into Bdx., and he planned on serving ours to impress them. OK, they were gifts, and they had become my host's possession. How, when and where he served them, was his call. Yes, I wish that he'd have pulled just one for that meal, but it was his call. Comes with the territory.


                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      I am of the same school as Bill Hunt. The wine is given as a gift to the host and it is their option to decide to serve it or not.

                      Typically, I ask the guest "shall we open your wine?", giving the option of opening their wine or choosing from my selection. Sometimes people select a wine that they are dying to try.

                      It is a different story though, if they were specifically asked to bring wine to the dinner. I have heard of people who will stock the guests superior selection in exchange for an inferior one they had at hand.(Which, is not the case in the original post.)

                      It is in poor taste to make fun of other people's selections. Particularly coming from a woman who requested you ruin a perfectly fine cut of beef. That is the real crime here...

                    2. re: porker

                      Since I'll never meet her I can say that she sounds like a pain in the butt all the way around and I'd be torn between pouring her a big fat glass of Mateus and not opening it just to annoy her.

                      But of course I didn't hear her side. ;-) That might or might not be fun to hear.

                    3. Thanks for the insight - perhaps I should have opened the Mateus after all. (Instead I made it into a passable sangria-ish beverage with lots of fresh citrus, pomegranate seeds, and other assorted goodies, which I enjoyed in my sunny backyard.)

                      I'm going to provide a bit more information - when I brought out the final Aussie red (the guests are Aussies), and explained my thoughts about the Mateus (it being too light for the meal) - everyone - including the wife - agreed. The "lady" in question went so far as to say "Well if you had the good stuff all along, why did you bring out the sh*t in the first place?", and quite happily had another few glasses. That comment (for me at least) took it from a bad attempt at a joke to somewhat boorish behaviour.

                      I guess my feelings were hurt - especially since I convinced my husband to invite them as he felt that the wife was somewhat tiresome and socially inept. I had argued differently (they were very nice people and just didn't get out much) and proceeded with the invite. Sigh, I should listen to the dear man more often.

                      I would make the effort to eat meals and share wines with only the people I like, but being new to Dubai, it's somewhat difficult to meet people with shared tastes (friendships here seem to often be superifical and social-climbing). For this event, we had invited some other friends who were unable to make it for the date and time, so we didn't have the mix that I was hoping for. Ah well - lesson learned.

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: kali_MM

                        Ahhhh, the elusive mix of guests to have a good time..."If we invite so and so, we gotta invite whats-his-name, cause he likes them more than Whats-her-name and will talk with them more" etc etc.
                        Just a coupla question, if you don't mind, kali,
                        Lets see, a bottle Bin 555 in Quebec, Canada costs about $18CDN, about 60 Dhs. Mateus, joke wine, is $10 (30Dhs).
                        California Sterling Vineyards cab, Coppola Black Label Claret, and Aussie Penfolds cab Bin 407 are each about $32CDN (100Dhs) give or take.
                        What kind of prices are you paying for these or similar wines in the UAE?
                        And, is getting these items a hassle or more of a rubber stamp process?

                        Just curious. Thanks.

                        1. re: porker

                          Well, to be able to to buy liquor at local stores and keep it in your home, you need to have a liquor license. To get a liquor license you need to be non-Muslim, have a no objection certificate from your employer, and (if you're female) a no objection certificate from either your husband (if married) or your father (if single). You may only buy a set amount of liquor each month, based on the amount of money you make. Typically local liquor stores are expensive places - I bought a decent Gewurtztraminer (about the $20-25 range in Alberta, CA) at the local store for around $35 CAD.

                          Or.... if you don't want to bother with all that (I have a NOC from my husband as a condifition of my moving to Dubai, but haven't got the liquor license yet)... you can just drive an hour or so down the road to one of the nearby Emirates (Ras al Khaimah). There's you'll find the magnificent Barracuda or the equally majestic Al Hamra Cellars where no liquor license is required, no cap exists on the amount you can buy, there's liquor specials, and they throw in freebies at the till. We go there whenever the old cupboard is getting bare.

                          It's much cheaper there, especially when you look at the 3 for 2 or 5 for 4 deals (which is unheard of at home). I have to confess that I haven't concentrated very much on prices - just pay attention to what I know I like, but generally we get wine around the 30 - 50 dhs level, with some exceptions made for the good stuff. Bin 555, Penfolds, etc. would all fall into that range. Prices for hard liquor I would say are a bit less than home, though not exceptionally so. There are some discount brands (focused more towards your average labourer from the subcontinent), which you can get for as low as 4 - 6 dhs. The "whiskey" called Dimpy is not the best (at all, unless it was the last thing in the cupboard and you were desperate, or needed to disinfect something), however, the Kremlin vodka that I secured works fine in a mixed drink (will not be going into martinis... ever).

                          Next time I go I'll pay more attention to price comparisons... and I'll see just how much a bottle of Mateus cost as well ;>)

                          (Disclaimer - I tend to lose it a bit in the wine shop and just run around merrily with my shopping cart while my dear husband attempts to talk me down, sighs deeply, then pays.)

                          1. re: kali_MM

                            Holy crap. Not that I was considering it, but this certainly makes me not ever want to move there.

                            1. re: rockandroller1

                              Seriously! I was reading kali's post and thinking of the hoops you have to go through!

                              1. re: rockandroller1

                                Yeah, but depending what you do, UAE is a modern klondike.
                                Speak to some iron workers (or teachers or engineers or truck drivers or cement mixers or ...) and the trivial hoops would certainly seem worth it.

                                1. re: porker

                                  maybe it's trivial hoops if you're a man, I bet living over there is a completely different experience for a woman. Not worth the $ to me.

                                  1. re: rockandroller1

                                    good point, as I obviously didn't consider that point of view.

                              2. re: kali_MM

                                Interesting. Wife was offered a position as a hospital CEO in Dubai. Now I am glad that she did not take that offer. I'd have a very difficult time, indeed.

                                Heck, I though AZ/USA was tough on wine... little did I know.


                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  Bill - if you were here, you'd probably find that the wine selection in most of these places is a bit of a crap-shoot. You simply never know what's going to be in stock on a given visit, so there's no real planning going on. That being said, it's probably possible to convince the stores to bring in a case of something specifically for you. I've just not tried that yet.

                                  Beyond that, I'm never certain that the wine that is in the stores has been treated with proper care and attention - it can get awfully, awfully hot here, and I do sometimes have visions of cases of wine and beer being left out in the sun or in crowded, hot warehouses for much longer than they should be by someone who's not educated and doesn't really care. For my own education - how much could poor storage potentially affect the quality of a wine, and what would indicate this decline in quality?

                                  As there are more than a few very expensive, well regarded restaurants here, with good wine lists, I believe that they must get their wines through different (but still legal) channels. When we're next in a wine-orientated restaurant, I will ask where they obtain their wine from.

                            2. re: kali_MM

                              "Well if you had the good stuff all along, why did you bring out the sh*t in the first place?"

                              I'd have happily driven her to the airport after that. Your self-restraint was admirable, and, yes......... I think if you'd added that part to your original post your responses would have been different. I know mine would have.

                              1. re: kali_MM

                                ah- that sheds some light on the matter. Just be thankful she's moving, I guess - :)

                                1. re: kali_MM

                                  Oh heck no, she wouldn't have apprecated the effort. Just pour her a half bottle into a big jelly glass and call it good.

                                2. I agree with a few posters here who have indicated you should have gone with the guest's request, and served her the Mateus. Why you kept pouring glasses of wine she didn't want, smacks a little of you insisting that you know what's best for her in your wine selections, regardless of whether she likes them.

                                  I'm all for guests putting up and shutting up when served dinner at someone else's home, but I'd also give a little as a host for guests as well.

                                  also: why'd you invite someone over to your home that you obviously don't like ?

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: im_nomad

                                    Bravo, im nomad, for some common sense. For the life of me, I can't understand what this fuss is all about. From where I sit, sociability and etiquette trump this self-serving anguish about the right table wine. Or valueing a guest by the degree of doneness in their steak. Life's too short. Find new friends.

                                    1. re: bob96

                                      I'm with both of you. My mother in law regularly brings white zinfandel to my house, and I can't serve it to her fast enough, because what else am I going to do with it? Then again, I don't care for my in-laws very much, so I avoid having them over very much at all.

                                      1. re: irishnyc

                                        Hey, just be glad that she brings her own and doesn't expect you to provide wine that you hate just to keep her happy! I don't have any problem with a friend or guest who brings something they like to drink, especially if it's something unusual or that they know isn't my taste - it's the people who come over and say, "I can't believe you don't have XYZ" that tweak me.

                                        1. re: Suzy Q

                                          Hehe! Her "I can't believe you don't have..." is caffeine free diet coke. We like caffeine, and we don't like artificial sweeteners, so sorry lady, we don't keep it around for your royal visits.

                                        2. re: irishnyc

                                          That is so funny, I have done that also. If anyone brings White Zin it is definately served that night. Not a popular choice wine but if someone brings it, it is what they are comfortable with.

                                    2. I think a lot of us (me included the first time i read thru the posts) are missing an important point HaagenDazs made in the first response. Don't take anything to heart when both you and the other party have already had a few glasses.

                                      1. it was nice of her to bring wine, albeit of poor quality that didn't live up to your admittedly snobbish standards.

                                        Would it have killed you to serve what she brought?

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: taos

                                          I'm in total agreement with you, taos.
                                          I've never not served, when entertaining, a wine someone had brought to my home.
                                          I really don't care what the wine is...

                                          1. re: latindancer

                                            Not sure what the definitive source is, but the consensus of the proper etiquette on this board has been that wine brought as a gift is just that, a gift, and does not have to be served unless pre-arranged. It is thought to presume that the hosts have not selected wines to go with what they're serving and is, therefor, out of line.

                                            I've always thought it also depends on how well you know each other and how things go during the evening.

                                            1. re: latindancer

                                              I have often not served a wine brought by a guest. Not only is that perfectly correct etiquette, it's sometimes necessary, as when every guest brings a bottle but the average consumption at the table is less than a bottle per person - especially when I've usually opened up a few bottles of my own to get things started.

                                          2. Whether guests are rude or not, you are never under an obligation to serve what they bring. Unless you specifically request that they bring an item for dinner (a potluck kind of thing) the understanding should be that they are bringing a host gift, which may be used or saved at the host’s discretion.

                                            That said, since you didn’t want the wine, and she obviously did, why not appease her and let her have a glass?

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: meg944

                                              When she asked for the Mateus,, you could have said you were waiting for the popsicles you'd used it to make to set, for dessert.... lighten up, for crying out loud! At least they'd brought something. Of course, that was before the "sh*T" comment...

                                            2. But she was right: Mateus is the perfect match with baseball glove.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. I would have opened the Mateus for her - you don't like it anyway "joke wine" so why not let her drink it!!! I dislike White Zinfandel and we have a guest (Super Bowl) who always brings a bottle because SHE likes it!!! We gladly have the bartender open it for her and hope she drinks the whole thing. Trying to tell her that she should drink "better wine" is boorish in itself.

                                                1. I agree with all that has been said. You clearly know more about wine than she, but not sure what the point is of telling her the rose would not work with the other reds you had been serving. If that is what she wanted -- and she brought it -- she should be able to have it. Last week we had dinner company and one guest asked for the lovely, pink pork tenderloin I was serving to be cooked well done, so that is what I did with her portion, yuck! When we eat with my sister, she never wants red wine, so we find a nice compromise. When entertaining I want my guests to be comfortable and happy and I do everything, within reason, to ensure that they are! Otherwise the whole affair isn't any fun for anyone. That said, some people can sure get under the skin!

                                                  1. I would have served her the Mateus so as to have been rid of it.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: Caralien

                                                      DITTO ; now you have it .What to do with it ?

                                                      1. re: lcool

                                                        answered above, they made sangria at a later date

                                                        1. re: lcool

                                                          Take it to Olive Garden for a special evening.

                                                      2. I don't understand why you didn't just serve her the wine she wanted. You set up a lose/lose situation - she was unhappy to be drinking something she didn't like, and you were unhappy to be stuck with a bottle you didn't like.

                                                        I would've given her what she asked for. I can't think of a single reason not to.

                                                        1. I don't think she was being incredibly rude. In many cases one country's sense of humor doesn't translate well, and what she might have seen as a joke, you could have taken as being rude or insulting. I also think you're being a little harsh on her lifestyle. Not everyone is cut out for living abroad, especially in a culture that is so different from what one is used to. My guess was that at that moment, she was just excited and grateful to be going back home to Australia.

                                                          That was the last time you'd ever see the couple, so why not try your best to make them happy? If they wanted the Mateus and you knew you'd never drink it, what's the harm in serving it. Some people are unabashed about liking cheap wine and if that means you can save the good wine for yourself, it's a win-win situation for you to serve her the Mateus. It's not like you were trying to make a point for future meetings.

                                                          6 Replies
                                                          1. re: queencru

                                                            Okay, so now I have that stupid Mateus jingle in my head(.."hey, hey, hey...")


                                                            THIS is my understanding of the etiquette of this situation: When you bring a bottle of wine to somebody's for dinner--or otherwise--it's a gift. For them to do with as they choose, meaning serving it or NOT. Unless you ask them about it beforehand and they say "sure, you can bring something, pick up a bottle of_____ because we're having ______". This is usually people who know each other fairly well. Generally, when people plan a dinner, they plan wine(s) too, or have a 'house wine', so you throw them off if you expect them to serve yours. And it's a gift, not a BYOB potluck. Unless it IS a BYOB potluck and then, well, the rules are far more relaxed. THEN you just open the bottle you brought yourself and start chugging.

                                                            1. re: Whosyerkitty

                                                              i'd think the rules would be a little relaxed at a bbq..like the potlock example you use.

                                                              1. re: im_nomad

                                                                I am not sure the issue is what is "proper" as what might have been expedient, and therefore perhaps more polite in the long run. The first and most important rule of being a host or hostess (the prime directive) is to make sure guests are enjoying themselves (without unduly affecting other guests.) The guest asking for the wine may not be polite or proper, but once asked the host has to make a judgement call. In this particular instance it's hard to see how serving the guest the wine they brought would have caused an awkward situation for anyone. Good manners dictate the guest should have kept her trap shut, better manners dictate the hostess could have relented and let her get sloshed on her poison of choice.

                                                                No doubt Helena will scam this thread in a couple of months and give some distracting and controversial advice on it.

                                                                1. re: im_nomad

                                                                  That being the case, she should have simply opened the bottle and started chugging. Maybe she would have been more pleasant. And not trashed what was undoubtedly an excellent primo cut of beef by insisting it was cremated.

                                                                  1. re: Whosyerkitty

                                                                    At least it wasn't Ripple. By the way, Mateus makes a nice marinade for baseball glove.

                                                                    It's all water under the bridge now. No need to continue to second-guess what you should/should not have done. She's history & you can get back to entertaining people you really like.

                                                              2. re: queencru

                                                                >>> My guess was that at that moment, she was just excited and grateful to be going back home to Australia.<<<

                                                                I HEAR THAT!!!
                                                                y'all were drinking and probably less inhibited. and she was on the rude side, but you didn't like her much to begin with. those tendencies were exacerbated by the wine, too. i'd have quickly given her the joke wine, because she wanted it, and i didn't. plus, why serve her my good wine when she doesn't want it? ;-)).

                                                                of course, there's nothing new in my post from what others have said. but ... i think there must be a lot of stress there under such a repressive society. what a bloody nightmare.

                                                              3. As soon as she indicated she would prefer the Mateus, I would have opened it and given it to her, and kept drinking what I preferred. And when filling the glasses of the others, asked which they preferred.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                  Or opened the Night Train Express left by uncle Chuck and let her enjoyyyyy

                                                                  1. re: porker

                                                                    Funny. Brought back memories, including some visions of Boone's Farm.

                                                                2. When a guest brings a wine/wines, without instruction to do so, it is considered as a gift for the host's/hostess' cellar.

                                                                  As I always plan the wine courses, and my guest know this in advance, there is seldom a question. When there has been, I just add their "gift" wine to the menu. There is often an awkward moment, when these folk whisper to me, "oh, I did not know that you were THAT into wine... " Still, they insisted.

                                                                  It sounds as though your guest has more issues, than the wines.

                                                                  As for the Mateus, I’d have served it early and chilled. While I do not think of it a as a “joke wine,” there are many better Rosés in my ‘fridge. As for her comments on your choices of wines, that is her problem. As for the well-done steaks, I face this on occasion, and comply with my guest’s wishes, regardless of the rest of the preps. My M-I-L loves her beef looking more like a charcoal briquette, than a steak, but I comply.

                                                                  What would I do on the next visit? I’d tell them that I have chosen a selection of wines, and will be serving those with X. If they bring something else, I’d gladly accept, and comment that we must do Y, when I serve these - from my cellar. Still, with other issues, I’d be less inclined to extend an invitation.


                                                                  27 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt


                                                                    Though I was once at a party where one of the guests arrived bearing a bottle of Two-Buck-Chuck. It was the home of some people who had a rather large cellar of wines in the $50+ plus range and poured them liberally whenever they had guests. Had it been MY home I would have said nothing other than "Thank You"). Unfortunately the hostess gave it back to the guest at the end of the evening with a rather uncharitable remark to the effect that 'at least her husband hadn't seen it'. Equally bad form as the guest in the OP but from the opposite angle. Both people are friends of ours and the hostess is an otherwise nice person. but one who just says whatever she's thinking....... even when she should just keep her mouth shut.

                                                                    1. re: Midlife

                                                                      Wow - totally rude hosts!

                                                                      That reminds me, I thought it was odd that porker wrote, earlier, re: gifts of wine from guests: “If they don't end up being served, I'll offer them to the guest when leaving. I don't want it to seem like I'm 'saving' their bottle while serving plonk (no problem with serving plonk, just not at the expense of 'their' bottle).”
                                                                      I know porker is trying to be nice, but as a guest, I have a very different take on that. While I am selfishly happy when I bring a bottle of wine and the hosts can’t wait to open it, I am also more than happy if they want to enjoy it later. I would be a bit surprised and perhaps even taken aback if someone offered me my bottle back at the end of the night.

                                                                      1. re: meg944

                                                                        I agree, and would never be so inclined. The wine was a gift to me. The wine deserves to be at least placed in my cellar. Now, later on, it might end up in a silent auction wine basket, but it would be MUCH later. Normally, I'll grab these for an evening on the patio. If it's not to our liking, then it is likely to be poured down the drain, silently, with no indication to my guest.

                                                                        When I am handing out wines as "favors," they are NEVER the wines, that my guests have brought. I am with you 100% on this one.


                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                          I can see your points very clearly.
                                                                          I think it depends on what kind of 'wine relationship' you are in with the people bringing wine to your party or vice versa. I think it also depends on what level you are at (wine wise) and share with others.

                                                                          One of my best friends simply doesn't THINK (or put thought into it or simply doesn't have much of a clue ) when serving drinks throughout the evening; he'll keep my glass full up without considering the wives, he'll open bottles topsy turvey - a white, two reds, another white, switch to beer, etc etc.

                                                                          I love the guy, but when we bring wine (we gotta bring wine or it can be russian roulette), we make damn sure we drink what we want. Not rude or anything, simply opening what we want, out of what we brought, in the kitchen and serving it ourselves.

                                                                          I love the idea of bringing wine as purely a gift. If you imbibe during the evening, great. If they enjoy it themselves later, great too.
                                                                          I think it has to be in context, though, where both parties can appreciate the give and take.

                                                                          1. re: porker

                                                                            Good point. Sometimes, one must just go with the flow and enjoy the company - nothing more.


                                                                            1. re: porker

                                                                              It's always nice to have friends with whom you are so close, you can just wander into the kitchen and serve yourself. I have a few friends like that and they make it very relaxing for me as hostess - though I hope I am still better than your friend with the little niceties. :)

                                                                              1. re: meg944

                                                                                They are our best friends and sometimes I think I know their kitchen better than they do. Here's the best part - they love giving me free reign.

                                                                        2. re: Midlife

                                                                          Uh-h-h, social gaffe on the hostess' part. Accept the gift, in the spirit intended. Place it in a special place in the cellar, along with those "odd" labels, that probably do not wrap bottles of good wines. We all have these, don't we? Catawba Blush from Mississippi, etc.

                                                                          Though told on another thread, I had a well-meaning guest who brought similar to a Bdx. (Merlot-based in this case) dinner. He insisted that I serve his wine. I relented, and poured it alongside a famous Merlot Bdx. When he was leaving, he apologized, and said that he had no idea how "into wine" I really was. I would never have done this, except he was my guest, and was insisting. Still, most guests found something nice to say about his wine. Let's just say that there was a major dichotomy between these two wines.

                                                                          It happens, and we all need to have plans on how we'll likely deal with it. To the host/hostess: accept the gift, say thank you and plan on putting it into the cellar. To the guest: do not expect the host/hostess to serve your wine. Do NOT insist that it be served, as you might well regret it. If you bring a WS 100 pt. winner, and the host/hostess serves something else, HOPE that you are invited, when your glamor wine IS served.

                                                                          These are reasons that I try to coordinate with my host/hostess what will be served, and that I will bring some, or all, of the wines. No unpleasent surprises for either.

                                                                          Now, I do attempt to project the level of wine appreciation of my host/hostess, and try to not bring rare, expensive wines, that they might not enjoy, or feel intimidated by. Usually, this works OK, but I have missed on a few instances. Still, I gifted the wines with forethought, and that's the best that I can do.

                                                                          Also, never, never complain about the wines being served. This can bite you badly. At a major Holiday party, where I was a guest, another guest tried to get me into a conversation on the level of wines being served. I declined to partake in that conversation. It just so happened that the host was nearby, overheard and this person was fired within the week. Now, I could not be fired, did not know the host was close, but did not feel that I was comfortable putting down the wines that were being offered to me, a guest. Just good manners. Back home, with my wife, in our bedroom, maybe I would address the subject, but never in public and never with any other guest. Not the right thing to do, and in poor taste.


                                                                        3. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                          This reminds me of a story I heard about a recent holiday dinner. The guest brought a case of excellent wine for serving at the party, in addition to the prime rib (as requested by the host), and the host decided to serve the cheap plunk he had instead, keeping the good stuff for himself.

                                                                          1. re: Caralien

                                                                            A friend was a house guest at New Years, and as a thanks bought a case of very good champagne - which he presumed the hosts would serve at their annual New Years Eve party. No such luck, "in honor of the economy" the hosts chose to serve... yep, you got it Cold Duck. They told friend/house guest they were saving the good stuff for occasions when people would appreciate it.

                                                                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                              I can actually sympathize with the hosts here - to some extent, anyway. Unless he was a close friend, kind of a co-host, and specified in advance that he would take care of bringing wine for the party, I would think that he was making a very kind gesture of thanks for being our house guest. We don’t have a huge cellar, but we do have a number of very nice wines as well as a number of perfectly fine table wines. (No, not Cold Duck!) If we are having a big party we tend to settle on a couple of nice but fairly inexpensive wine options from our cellar, and just serve those. I think if someone went to the trouble of buying us a case of really nice champagne, they would probably want us to enjoy it and not watch it disappear down the throats of our charming crowd of philistines.

                                                                              1. re: meg944

                                                                                That's a good point, they may have thought it would look UNappreciative to "get rid of" all the champagne at their NYE party.

                                                                                1. re: meg944

                                                                                  We encounter similar at Passover. There are those, who appreciate great wines, and those, who do not. We'll usually have several levels of wine available and "steer" the Philistines to the "regular," saving the good stuff, for those who will appreciate it. If someone shows up with a case of nice Champagne (the situation listed here), we'll definitely serve some of it to all. If everyone realy enjoys it, then we'll keep serving it. Similar just happened at another event. Most had a few sips, and put the glass down. No more "good stuff" for them. We just substituted other wines for these folk, and eveyone was happy.

                                                                                  When we have large events, I'll have several "levels" of wine. The bartenders know what to serve most of the time. There is a secret word of the "good stuff," and then there is a special handshake for the "great stuff." Same for my Scotch Whiskey - most get one, or two, while a very few get another, and the heavy contributors, who know their Scotch Whiskey, get the rare stuff.

                                                                                  I do not like wasting, but do not wish certain guests to have to make do, just because some do not appreciate the "good stuff."


                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                    Actually, at big parties we do give a "heads-up" to the few friends who enjoy decent wine as to where they might be able to find some - it's not exactly hidden but we don't keep it in full view, either. No code word or secret handshake (though that's a charming idea - gives the party a "speakeasy" kind of feel.) And I would of course never refuse to serve a person if they came along and were curious. We are always happy to find more people to share wine with! In fact, I am very proud of the fact that I am the "personal sommelier" for a folk singer friend. I put together mixed cases for him to try (at a folk singer discount , of course) and he will call me up before a date and read me the restaurant wine list to get tips. It's so exciting to hear him starting to get a sense of what he likes and why.

                                                                                    I think the champagne thing really hits home for me in particular because I did a similar thing for my sister at her wedding. We had earlier given her and her new husband, among other things, a case of various nice champagnes that we hoped they could enjoy at festive occasions in the future. They decided to share it with the guests during the reception (in his mother's garden), which was a very sweet gesture. But I admit, and I know that really isn't the point, that it truly pained me to watch people mixing a gorgeous vintage champagne with fruit juice, or putting (no joke) teaspoon after teaspoon of sugar in it - and even worse, 90% of it was just left to slowly go flat in glasses. Had I known ahead of time I would have been more than happy to come up with some nice but less expensive CA sparklers for the guests and then the happy couple could have enjoyed the RM champagnes at an anniversary or on their honeymoon or the like.

                                                                                    If a house guest had both the taste and the kindness to gift us with a case like that, we would certainly be sharing some with him/her and some others. But the rest of our guests would drink our (perfectly tasty) Roederer Estate and still consider it a huge step up. Of course, our friends are young (we are in our late 30's.) Time will likely change some of that.

                                                                                    It's always interesting to hear your take on things - and to dream of attending one of your lovely events! :)

                                                                                    1. re: meg944

                                                                                      Trust me, you will get the password AND the secret handshake!


                                                                                  2. re: meg944

                                                                                    A good point, and as always in these posts, some of the information was left out. The couple hosting the party has a reputation for serving "good booze" at their parties, said house guest bought the champagne before the hosts went out and bought the cold duck, and as someone who spends a week at their house two or three times a year is definitely a close friend and co-host of the party. In fact it is pretty well known that the house guest does at least half of the cooking for the party.

                                                                                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                      Ah - that is a different story! What odd behavior by the hosts, then. And then poor Mr. Guest would likely tell some of their friends in advance about the various wines he was excitedly getting for the party, resulting in some strange looks and strained conversations on the night itself.....

                                                                                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                        I still don't entirely get it, but I don't know the people or all the circumstances. Unless he specified "this champagne is for our party", there was room for misunderstanding. And it seems kind of weird to complain about people whose home you spend so much time in... he was their guest, after all.

                                                                                        1. re: julesrules

                                                                                          I think Kaimukiman's point was that Mr. Guest (as well as his fellow guests) considered him a co-host of the party. The nominal hosts apparently did not. Though as you noted, with such good friends, one can only assume there was just some confusion here and not ill intent.

                                                                                          1. re: meg944

                                                                                            absolutely, he told it more as a humorous story, of what seemed to be odd behavior on the part of the hosts, not as a "complaint." One of those 'people do the oddest things' kind of stories. We both laughed and sipped more wine while we sat and watched the sun go down. Nothing to get upset about, just a funny story - as is the OP's.

                                                                                    2. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                      See, when you bring a case of Bollinger RD to my house, if it is not served, it'll be the Tattinger, instead - no "Anything Duck" in sight!

                                                                                      Actually, a fine Champagne is perfect for times that are not that good. It can change things, if only for a moment, for the better. Celebrate what one has at that instant in time, and do not let the moment get the better of you. When things do improve, maybe some of your great friends will no longer be with you and available to share the Champagne. There is no better time, than now. Enjoy, and rejoice in today. Tomorrow might not come.

                                                                                      KaimukiMan, you are welcome to bring whatever Champagne you wish to my home, and we'll drink it, and still have more downstairs.


                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                        Humm... I'd best develop a taste for champagne. Would you settle for a nice bottle of Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Barberra? Maybe you could teach me what a good Merlot is supposed to taste like.

                                                                                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                          I always "settle" for those. If it's well-made, anything from Albariño to Zinfandel.

                                                                                          I do have a few Merlots, that I like, but find most not worth the effort to pull the cork - not just domestic. Still, some good ones, do lurk in my cellar and I'm always ready to share them.


                                                                                    3. re: Caralien

                                                                                      The guest brought the main course and the wine? I think that rather makes him the host. :)

                                                                                      1. re: meg944

                                                                                        She usually hosted dinner, but not this year. Next year she plans to, again.

                                                                                        1. re: Caralien

                                                                                          I would hope that she at least paid for the prime rib the guest brought.

                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                            No, he didn't. Family events can be funny sometimes.

                                                                                  3. This is a true story that happened to me about 10 years ago. Held a holiday dinner with lots of food and variety of beverages including wines. Received a "gift" of port wine from a fellow that was interested in dating me. I was obligated to invite him as our mothers really wanted us to get together. He brought the port in a gift bag and even gave me a wine opener in case I didn't have one and presented is as "this is a gift for you". Not half an hour later, he asked to have the wine open. I said well, isn't it for after dinner? and isn't this a gift to me. He goes, well I want to try it now and the gift is really for the evening. Okay, fine whatever, he ended drinking the entire bottle himself, not offering any to any of the guests. Made a point of telling everyone how good it was and at the end of the evening, he even took the wine opener home (it was new when he brought it) with him. Yes he was a real catch. My mom couldn't believe how rude he was until I told her all his selfish habits.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: gourmet wife

                                                                                      I am just guessing here, but I assume that he is not the other half of "Gourmet Wife."

                                                                                      Now, had it been me, I'd have whispered that we should open the bottle, after the other guests had departed, and then I'd have have talked to you about how to best preserve the leftover Port, maybe even intimating that if I dropped by the next night with some Stilton and walnuts, we could enjoy muchof the rest of the bottle.

                                                                                      Hope you thanked him, and wrote him off.


                                                                                      1. re: gourmet wife

                                                                                        "Okay, fine whatever, he ended drinking the entire bottle himself, not offering any to any of the guests. "

                                                                                        He drank a whole bottle of port himself in less than an evening? I'm glad I didn't have to clean his cage :-)

                                                                                      2. In my experience, when this much wine has flowed under the bridge, no one is at his or her most gracious.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                          Sometimes yes, but other times no. It depends on the individual.


                                                                                        2. I didn't know Mateus still existed.

                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: grantham

                                                                                            It does,and has changed for the better.As has BLUE NUN ,the Spanish one with the little plastic bull on the bottle and Leibfraumilch.There is an updated in "style or taste" if you will.Still not "good" in my opinion,but not dismal either.

                                                                                            1. re: grantham

                                                                                              Mateus still exists, as does Boone's Farm. Thankfully Ripple has gone the way of the dodo. Apparently Thunderbird is still available at low end retailers. Woo Hoo . . . and all of them brought to you through the goodness of E&J Gallo!

                                                                                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                a loaf of bread, a bottle of Boone's, two straws.........

                                                                                                My daughter found a picture of my then future hubby, me and a bottle of Boones Farm. Believe me, I can identify with Michael Phelps. Hope I don't lose my Chow endorsement.

                                                                                                1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                  could have been worse, could have been ripple (but they were cool bottles.)

                                                                                                  1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                    When I was an impoverished young mom/struggling student living on practically no money, my idea of a real blowout was a box of Chef Boy-Ar-Dee pizza mix (no pizzerias in the whole county where I lived), a can of mushrooms (no fresh mushrooms in grocery stores there), and a bottle of Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill. I have a real soft spot for it because of those days, which ended triumphantly. I think this is a real lesson in how our tastes change as time passes and we experience and learn more, something any kids around me heard and hear frequently. Rock on, my dear, and BTW, thanks for the quote from the kid on Bandstand in another thread. Liketa died laffing.

                                                                                                  2. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                    wha? ain't no more ripple? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciR7Fq...
                                                                                                    what'll fred sanford do? (from wiki): "His favorite drink was Ripple...and he'd often combine Ripple with other drinks, for example, Beaujolais + Ripple = "Beaujolipple" or Cream soda + Ripple = "Cripple" or Champagne + Ripple = "Champipple."

                                                                                                    as to those wedding guests wasting the "gifted" champagne, or mixing it with soda -- i guess they preferred "champipple"! mixing grapefruit juice with the wine? why that's a "shake 'em up"! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTDEpS...

                                                                                                    or, instead of those expensive wines one could bring to a host, maybe one should consider bringing thunderbird wine, 'cause james mason says it has an unusual, delightful flavor, not like anything he's ever tasted (no lie! that's in the script!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xY7mB...

                                                                                                2. I think I should always respect other people's taste. I always ask if they would like me to open their wine or if they would like some of the wine that is already open. If they like their Mateus, then by all means, let them drink it. Would you like to drink it later? Probably not. Same goes for the meat. You have to respect people's tastes. If it will offend you when they want it well done, then serve something else. I only serve nice cuts when I know my guests. I hate to waste a good cut, too. Remember, this party was for them, not you.

                                                                                                  1. Your Aussie neighbor sounds like she's exactly as your husband warned you--and it seems that she doesn't get out much. We've got a friend who loves white zinfandel, the cheaper the better, and I make sure I've got a well-chilled bottle available for him. It's such a small thing, and makes him feel well-cared for. If the lady wanted her Mateus, maybe she likes it and brought it so she'd have something to drink, it fit her budget, could be a lot of reasons, but in the end if your guest wants something, give it to her and get on with your life. If someone brings a nice red and you're serving seafood, they ought to understand if you don't offer it. They can take it home (kind of tacky, but these days it could be an economically driven choice) or leave it for another day. If you've planned your meal from appetizers to dessert and coffee, you'll have enough of the right wines to satisfy your sense of a well-planned and executed evening. Relax and take care of your guests so that THEY are happy. And next time, if there is one, ask her to bring a dessert.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: blaireso

                                                                                                      Good point.

                                                                                                      I do not appreciate Scotch Whiskey, or martinis, but keep some rather high-end Single Malts, and a half-dozen gins and vodkas, plus 3-4 vermouths. All for my non-wino guests. Unless it's a very wine-centric dinner, I always have the bar open for them.


                                                                                                    2. Well first her wanting steak well, I don't agree, but I do have 1 friend who has to have his well also. He is my guest so I make it well, his choice. If I went to his house and his family like things well done and I asked for medium rare, I would hope he would do the same for me. No different.

                                                                                                      Secondly, the wine is a gift and it is up to the host whether or not to serve it. Me ... I always put my wines plus theirs on the table and serving area. I open my first bottle but always ask my guests what they would like to try next regardless of what I feel is best. They are guests so I like to be gracious to them not make myself feel good. I would of liked a good cab but not everyone has the same tastes. This way your guest would of felt appreciated and treated well.

                                                                                                      I wouldn't of said anything because they are guests. I go to someones house and sometimes hate the food. I eat politely say thanks, try everything and leave. And I would go back. I never let food get in the way of a friendship weather it be good friends or just occasional. I just grin and bear it and move on.

                                                                                                      A dinner part I had planned, gourmet all the way for New Years. Amazing baked elegant desert, told everyone to bring nothing other than wine. Well one brought desert, a store bought pie. I put my lovely baked desert out and also put their pie out. I hated it but thought it was the right thing. 2 pieces of pie and mine was almost gone. But they were pleased. I never said a word ... did I want too OF COURSE. I didn't. We all had a great time. She continues to bring a store bought pie every time she comes to dinner. I never say anything. She is a great friend.

                                                                                                      1. The wine is intended as a gift. It is up to you as the host to decide what wines are to be served.

                                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                          Well, some people bring wine expecting to drink it. If it is a wine that you don't really care for, why not open it and get rid of it.

                                                                                                          1. re: sarah galvin

                                                                                                            It is still/always the hosts prerogative to sever the wine. Especially if they have taken the time and trouble to plan a menu.

                                                                                                            One can always regift the questionable wine.

                                                                                                            1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                              Very true, I just found offering it eliminates further complications and my menu regardless of how much time I have spent is not as important as my friends. They may not have taste in wine but I offer and set it out regardless.

                                                                                                              But yes the host can do what he or she wants.

                                                                                                              1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                                                This actually back fired on me once. I brought a good bottle of wine for the hostess of a dinner party. I had no expectations that she would serve it. She in fact decided to serve it. Much to my chagrin the bottle(s) she was planning on serving were of an excellent vintage. I can't remember exactly what they were, But at time I recall doing a Hommer Simpson 'D'oh!' as well as a few other quiet explicatives. Her bottles sat on the side table taunting me though the meal.

                                                                                                                Perhaps from now on I'll simply bring soap for the powder room.

                                                                                                                1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                  It is hard ... I think that is why I put them all on the table or serving area and ask what everyone what to drink. That way no ones knows who brought what. May not be proper but it has always worked. Soap may not be a bad idea :)

                                                                                                              2. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                Of course it is. But I would still offer it.

                                                                                                          2. This reminds me of a US Thanksgiving Day dinner we attended a few years ago in New York State. We brought a bottle of VQA Ontario Chardonnay, Our hostess had a California Chablis, which evoked all sorts of ooohs and ahs when it was brought to the table.

                                                                                                            Both bottles were opened, and guests tasted both wines. After 15 minutes the Ontario wine was gone, while the Caifornia stood on the table throughout the meal, gradually getting warm.

                                                                                                            1. I thought about your thread last week. I had donated a vertical of Joseph Phelps Insignia to a charity function. An acquaintance was the lucky bidder, and then extended an invitation to us to share the wines, and talk about them to his guests. Heck, I knew the wines and was familiar with each one - two were WS Wine of the Year winners. One was #1, and another was #5. None was rated below 91 pts. by either WS, or Parker. Who could refuse such a generous invitation.

                                                                                                              As a gift to my host and hostess, I brought a bottle of 1er Cru Chablis. When we arrived, the guests were showing up, but sporadically. We could not get started on the Insignia yet, as many had not arrived. My host asked what he should serve to those, who were there. He indicated that his personal cellar was not that deep in "welcome wines." I thought (and about this thread) and finally told him that the Chablis would work fine, especially with the cheeses that his wife had put out.

                                                                                                              Was I wrong? I did pause and consider. Still, the Chablis was quite good, it filled the bill and those guests, who were in attendance did enjoy it. I was glad that I knew that wine, as I also had to talk about it too! Still, I thought about this very thread.


                                                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                I wouldn't have done it, even if it were the perfect wine and the host truly didn't have anything remotely appropriate, which I rather doubt.

                                                                                                                A gift is a gift, for the recipient to do with whatever he wishes, be it donate, re-gift, drink alone, or pour down the drain. For the giver to suggest, I'm just not OK with that. And what could he reply to that, after hearing your suggestion and maybe thinking "Gee, I'd rather keep it for a more special occasion for a smaller group or whatever, but how can I refuse the suggestion of this guy who not only is so knowlegeable but generous to both me and the charity? I'd better serve it to not appear ungrateful or offensive."

                                                                                                                1. re: Leonardo

                                                                                                                  You make a very good point, and one that I considered long an hard. In the end, I let the wino in me win. Was it a faux pas? Very possibly. Would I do it again, given the circumstances? Maybe, but maybe not. Only time will tell.

                                                                                                                  Still, I do see your point, and I weighed it carefully. I just went the other way in that situation.



                                                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                    Differing with Leonardo, I think the Chablis was a serendipitous solution.

                                                                                                                    While I agree with the rule that an unasked bottle of wine offered to a host is a gift with which the host can dispense with as s/he pleases, there are certain situations when breaking that rule best serves hospitality, which is the reason for the rule in the first place.

                                                                                                                    In this specific situation, the host had a gap in his wine service. He had no welcome wine, and realizing that, the host asked Bill Hunt -- a knowledgeable wine connoisseur -- what to do.

                                                                                                                    Serendpitiously, the premier cru Chablis Bill Hunt brought to the host was an ideal wine to fill that particular need. It was a lovely high-quality white wine before lovely but heavier reds, and a wine that went well with the cheeses. Importantly, the host asked for advice, and Bill then suggested his gift wine as a possible solution. IMO, the interest of hospitality was served by suggesting, and serving, the Chablis.

                                                                                                                    The wine-gift rule seems best applied to formally planned dinners when the food and wines are planned with some synergy in mind, and an "outside" wine might undercut that effect.

                                                                                                                    But there are many occasions when the rule doesn't or even shouldn't be applied. When the dinner is casual and there are many bottles opened. When a wine aficionado has brought a wine to taste with another wine aficionado. When it would make a guest particularly happy to drink the wine s/he brought. (I am reminded of my elderly wealthy friend who loves Lancer's.) And so on.

                                                                                                                    Not to get overly philosophical, but I think all rules, all concepts of ethics, are tested by the occasional situation in which breaking the rule best serves the spirit of the rule.

                                                                                                                    I'm reminded of a quote by John Dewey:
                                                                                                                    ''A moral principle . . . is not a command to act or forbear acting in a given way: it is a tool for analyzing a special situation, the right or wrong being determined by the situation in its entirety, not by the rule as such.''

                                                                                                                    For me, the key phrase is "the situation in its entirety."

                                                                                                                    Just my 2 cents, and Dewey's considerably more valuable insight.

                                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                      My very thoughts, albeit expressed much more eloquently!

                                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                        Kudos on an exceptionally cogent reply.

                                                                                                                        Don't be surprised if you find it cut/pasted into other threads; it applies to numerous of ethical cunundrums posed elsewhere.

                                                                                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                          The cutting and pasting has already started - it is also such a calming quotation. I would like to think that where wine and food are being served to me, I will anchor my serenity and enjoyment in the moment. And it would take a lot more than mediocre drink and odd manners to unbalance me.

                                                                                                                          1. re: maria lorraine


                                                                                                                            You made me feel better about my choice. Now, it's moot, because the choice was made, but I did consider this very thread, plus many more on "gift wines."

                                                                                                                            In retrospect, I wish that I'd brought a bit fuller-bodied Chard, as the cheeses would have benefitted from these. I had asked for a menu and all I got was "special Ethiopian dishes." with no details. The pre-meal cheese course was never even mentioned. In the end, the Chabis worked OK, and I had to alter my spiel, as many wanted to know about it, when I had planned on talking about the Insignia. OK, so I rather "winged it," and the guests did not seem to mind.

                                                                                                                            Thanks, I needed that,


                                                                                                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                              Wonderful reply!! Thanks for your post.

                                                                                                                            2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                              I'd differ with Leonardo as well. From the way you tell the story, the host was asking for help and saying his cellar didn't seem to offer a good choice. I don't see that you were suggesting "you were just not OK with that" at all.
                                                                                                                              Granted...... your gift was now the host's but it was a wine with which you were familiar and (presumably) he wasn't. At that point you were making a suggestion about what was now HIS wine would pair with what was being served, not offering YOUR wine to be served anyway. Perfectly OK in my book. In such a case, I've often had a host say "You know, I'd rather hold this for another occasion and serve something else". Again - perfectly OK in my book. It is, at that point, HIS wine. .

                                                                                                                              1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                Well, one way to look at it would be: the host's cellar had just increased by one. At that moment, he DID have a good wine to serve, and chose to do so, even if it was from the gifter's suggestion. After all, he could have declined and grabbed something else.

                                                                                                                                I feel better already!


                                                                                                                        2. Like others I'd have served her what she asked for and served myself what I wanted. But like you I'd have been furious. People's lack of graciousness/gratefulness never ceases to amaze me.

                                                                                                                          Just out of curiosity, did the husband seemed appalled by the wife's behavior?

                                                                                                                          For what it's worth, however, there's a really good, respected Provencal restaurant in Boston that used to have Mateus rosé nights. It was done in lighthearted fashion, but it *was* done for awhile...

                                                                                                                          1. I would have served her the wine she brought and she wanted.
                                                                                                                            Some of the most wonderful dinner parties I've been to are the ones where we all sit at a long table, with many bottles of wine/champagne around us and drink and laugh and talk until long after midnight.
                                                                                                                            I'm not understanding the drama.
                                                                                                                            Wine is meant to be enjoyed....not used as competition.

                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                i'm with you about not understanding the drama.
                                                                                                                                i have a girlfriend who only really enjoys white zin.
                                                                                                                                when she comes to my house she normally brings a bottle for herself. why would i begrudge her what she enjoys? on occasion i will have bought a bottle of the stuff just for her, but if not she's fine with bringing it herself. she's been my friend for more than two decades.

                                                                                                                                when she is hostessing, she normally serves a bottle of white zin and a bottle of two buck chuck. she knows and accepts that i will bring another bottle of wine that i'll enjoy.
                                                                                                                                i doesn't bother her at all that i bring a different wine.

                                                                                                                                imho, it's all just part of being friends.

                                                                                                                              2. I suppose you could have asked her if she would prefer her own bottle to be opened. Someone brought a 3.00 bottle of white zin to a dinner party that we hosted, and although I had spent hours with the owner of our local wine store sampling and purchasing wine, I asked if she wanted a glass specifically picked for each course or would prefer her own. She picked the white zin. This guest was a new girlfriend of a good friend of ours, so we had no pre-conceived notion of her like you did with your guest. It was very rude of her to gag and make noises when presented a glass of your fabulous wine. She could simply have finished the glass and stated that while your wine was good-she would prefer a glass of her own. You did nothing wrong but perhaps you should have served the Mateus when asked. Obviously she has no manners and you should be thankful you need not see them again.She handled things poorly with the gagging noise. What a shame to waste good wine on someone with no appreciation of it. Better luck at your next dinner party.

                                                                                                                                1. I would have ignored her. She has a personality disorder and nothing can be done to tame that!

                                                                                                                                  That being said, I would have served her wine along with yours. Who cares?

                                                                                                                                  My DIL likes her meat well done (she grew up that way) and she is the light of my life. I cook her beef the way she likes it.

                                                                                                                                  1. NO ONE WHO BRINGS WINE TO ANY PARTY is rude! If it's good wine, rejoice and drink it. If it's poor wine, rejoice and serve it to those who brought it while you drink the Good Stuff.

                                                                                                                                    I think YOU were rude not to serve her the wine she brought when she asked. Whether you were ever going to see them again or not. The thought was there, even if she/they don't have your obviously Masterful knowledge of wine!

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: KiltedCook

                                                                                                                                      Yesterday I went to a pool party, now we had wine and beer and I cooked / catered, friends, but I did cook. 3 guests brought wine, Now I had bought wine to go with out food but I put it all out. One of my very nice selections (not too pricey but nice didn't get opened 2 of the others did. All were drank, all had fun and what more can you say. Someone brought desert even though I made it. They all said ... oh we will take your desert and the hosts graciously put the other out but then kept it for later. It was a nice home made tart, but they knew I cooked so it wasn't a problem. Just offer. The wine wasn't the best, but who cared. Great day outside, good food and friends. Just fun. The hosts have a nice bottle of wine to drink later with the tart and some leftovers.

                                                                                                                                      Life is good.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: KiltedCook

                                                                                                                                        Well, the guest wasn't rude for bringing or not bringing wine. She was rude for making rude comments.

                                                                                                                                      2. After her gagging episode, I would have poured half a glass of Mateus for her, then topped it off with 7-up. I'm sure she would have enjoyed it immensely.

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. The OP's guest sounds like a real piece of work. What a boor!

                                                                                                                                          I wouldn't put it past a person like that to have "re-gifted" the Mateus. It seems to me that the lady was trying to get rid of it.

                                                                                                                                          Re: the "baseball glove" -- It's indeed depressing to have to over-cook *any* good meat. It took me a long, long time to accept the fact that there're plenty of people who're just *not* foodies like me, and that they eat things I wouldn't serve to a dog. The OP was very gracious to char the filet mignon.

                                                                                                                                          1. exactly what you did! She was remarkably rude - why would you humour her by doing it her way in your home? I'm with you on this one

                                                                                                                                            1. I agree with some of the others, I would have just served the rose and the rest of you could enjoy the good red. It was wasted on her.
                                                                                                                                              We have friends who walk in with the bottle already open and started, who then ask for a glass immediately so they can serve themselves! Talk about rude...but they kindly dole it out to us while keeping a tight grip on it. But they are friends so we content ourselves with needling them with "jokes" about it.
                                                                                                                                              i do agree that a guest should never expect anything he brings to be served, unless it was requested by the host.

                                                                                                                                              1. Perhaps this was already mentioned up thread.

                                                                                                                                                At the end of the evening you could have given her the Mateus back informing her that it was something that you would not be drinking.

                                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                  IMHO that would have been REALLY rude. Unless you knew the guest EXTREMELY well, it would be like saying "what you brought isn't good enough".

                                                                                                                                                  The only thing to do is accept the gift and do what you wish with it later. At least, in this case, one of the two bottles the guest brought was poured. I may have posted it above too, but I witnessed a situation in which a guest brought a bottle of Two Buck Chuck to a party and was sent home with it. If that wasn't bad enough on its own, the hostess added "Get this out of here before my husband sees it!"

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                    I would not have done that, even with my family, or my in-laws.

                                                                                                                                                    I would have thanked them and continued to serve my chosen wines. At some point, I'd have put on my tie-dyed t-shirt and shared the Mateus with my wife, saying, "remember when... " Of course, I would have "something" for later.


                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                      Yeah....a nice big pot of fondue...!

                                                                                                                                                  2. My first thought: they STILL make Mateus???
                                                                                                                                                    I would have served it with another bottle or two at the table so everyone could pick which wine they wanted. You could have brought out a really big goblet full of ice, poured the entire bottle of Mateus into it and just handed it to her - he'll, they're going to Australia, you'll never see them again anyway.

                                                                                                                                                    1. Nero Wolfe said, "A guest is a jewel on the cushion of hospitality." If a guest is rude, the host has a moral obligation to suck it up, because two wrongs do not make a right. I do anything I can reasonably do to make a guest happy. Well-done steak, you bet. Well-done roast beef, sorry. But you can have the end pieces or I can fix you an omelet. Open a bottle of wine you brought precisely because you don't like *good* wine. Certainly, it makes you happy and doesn't hurt me. Nuff said.

                                                                                                                                                      1. there's an old saying:
                                                                                                                                                        "never try to teach a pig to sing.
                                                                                                                                                        it wastes your time and irritates the pig."

                                                                                                                                                        1. Let me tell you what polite guests and hosts do, through a personal story. We had guests here from the Bordeaux region of France. They brought two extraordinary Bordeaux red wines and one Champagne as gifts and insisted we let the reds rest for 2 weeks in our basement, as sediment was shook up flying over. It was assumed the champagne would be saved for a special occasion.

                                                                                                                                                          I brought them on a tour of Arthur Ave, after the Bronx Zoo, where I also shopped for dinner. They asked what I was making and if red would go then insisted to buy a very nice Riserva Chianti at a shop that was double price I would pay for same bottle at a discount warehouse.
                                                                                                                                                          Of course, that bottle was opened and served with dinner, but after we served an inexpensive South American Cabernet/Merlot blend we had and even later on a pretty cheap Italian Pinot Grigio.
                                                                                                                                                          I'd like to think that we opened their minds to less expensive wines that can be good, while at the same time all being good hosts and guests.

                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JoannaNYC

                                                                                                                                                            If they were from France, they are more than aware that less expensive wines can be excellent. What is a mitzvah, however, is to introduce French visitors to new world wines. U.S. wines in particular, rarely make it overseas without a prohibitive VAT so the only thing people could possibly afford is a Gallo. Hence, the poor opinions too many hold.
                                                                                                                                                            Meanwhile, sounds like a lovely visit with a group of lovely people.

                                                                                                                                                          2. Unless some truly gross inability to do so, I always open wine or desserts brought by guests.