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Oct 26, 2011 08:33 AM

Wine Gift Etiquette

I am grateful that my friends and family think of me and always accept gifts graciously because of the intent of the giver but some of the bottles of wines I have received as gifts, I know I just won’t drink.

I keep some, to have a selection to offer dinner guests, because hey, different strokes for different folks…but they’re not really vintage wines so you can only keep them for so long.

Like a right now, in my ‘collection’ there is a bottle of Nando Fragolino, a Beringer gewürztraminer, a bottle of mulled wine from a local winery and a 1.5L bottle of white zinfandel.

Also I have the a few friends who make wine at home who will give me a bottle or two of their home made creations. If they come in recycled soda bottles, I’ll have some along with them and smile and then when they leave, I toss it. (horrible, don’t hate me)

.. and last but not least, my dearest father…he and I make wine nearly every year together. Usually good wine, from grapes not kits… we’ve done cabernet, a 60/40 zinfandel/merlot blend, sangiovese and a very nice petit sirah…

But he’s getting into experimentation recently and I’ve been on the receiving end of some full cases of his experimental wines…which range from apple-y and sweet (using an old apple-jack bottle to age red wine is not a good idea) to just plain bad (overly oaked and un-drinkable)

What do you do with these?

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  1. I have 3 main strategies. I take it to a big party and leave it on the communal table; I save a bottle or two for my friends who *like* white zinfandel; or I make sangria with it (again, usually for a big party). What I *don't* do is drink it myself ;-).

    With your dad, maybe it's best to just be honest with him and tell him you love him dearly, but some of the wine experiments he's made recently aren't to your taste, so rather than waste the wine, he should give it to others who might appreciate it.

    And if all else fails, dump it and recycle the bottles.

    1. You got very good advice from Niki, particularly with respect to your father.

      What I do with those wines is send them with my wife when she has girls' cabin weekend. Others, I may find good enough for cooking.

      1. I also have many "wine gifts," and the time of presentation, plus the event, will dictate how I handle the wines. I graciously accept them, but if I have prepared a wine-themed dinner, will very likely not be serving the gift wine. I usually will comment, "Oh, thank you. This will make a great addition to my cellar." and then I will try to make sure that when they are next my guests, we open that bottle. I have had a very few instances, where a bottle was presented, and the presenter pressed for the wine to be served that night, with that meal. I try to deflect those requests, but did have to present a gift bottle of Beringer Merlot, in a flight of older Bdx.. When the guest left, he made a quite comment to me, "I knew that you were into wines, but did not realize the level." I tried to avoid that, but he had pressed.

        I also have a little area in my cellar just for some "oddities," such as really interesting labels, or maybe a Mississippi "fruit wine." I always reflect on the lovely persons, who gifted me those wines.

        Gift wines can carry some unintended "baggage," but that is the life of a "wino."



        3 Replies
        1. re: Bill Hunt

          I'm surprised the guest who gifted you the Beringer merlot didn't pull you aside during the dinner and advise you to keep his gift rather than serve it that night. Knucklehead (him, that is)........

          My BIL and my mother don't have particularly discerning or savvy palates when it comes to wine. Both readily admit that the bottles I normally open are wasted on them, so when either one visits I'll discreetly open and pour a glass from a bottle that's been gifted when they're out of sight.

          1. re: Eugene Park

            No, actually he rather made a big deal of it, and though I tried to deflect his desire to serve it, he was not deterred. I rather knew how things would go, as his wine was in a flight of "heavy-hitters," that had been chosen specifically for that time in the meal. I did not make a big deal of who had gifted me the wine, and just served it in the flight. He apologized, as he left, and I still thanked him for the wine.

            When I arrive with a wine, I fully intend that it be placed in my host's/hostess' cellar, to be opened and enjoyed at their convenience, except where I have been asked to provide a wine, say for a course.


          2. re: Bill Hunt

            Pressing you to serve a bottle they brought at a dinner party is just plain rude! It's never bad etiquette to put a gifted bottle aside if you have other wines already planned and purchased for the evening...(I know *you* know that, Hunt, but others may not)

            Happily, the goofy bottles we've received are never too awful, and they usually find their way to the table at parties and such.

          3. I have a Halloween Party to go to tonight, I know that the host and hostess actually really liked my Dad's latest "experiment" so I think I'll bring at least a few bottles there. Bill, I wish I has a cellar of my own, but unfortunatley we don't (we're limited to a rack and a 24 bottle dual zone wine 'cooler')
            everything else I store in my Dad's cellar (he was gracious enough to save me some space)