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Is it appropriate to bring a winemaker's wine to share when going out to dinner with them?

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Hello friends,

I recently made acquaintance with a local winemaker, loved her wine and made plans to meet at a mutually-loved restaurant for dinner. I am younger, she is much older. I'd love to bring a bottle of wine to share at dinner, but not sure if it's a nice gesture or tacky to bring the winemaker's own wine! Any etiquette tips are much appreciated!

TIA.

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  1. If it's an older example, one the winemaker might not have much of left, I'm sure she'd appreciate the opportunity to check in on it without going into her own stash. I've had plenty of dinners with French winemakers where people brought their bottles and they were appreciative of a chance to check their development and talk about the vintage conditions. I wouldn't bring a current release.

    1. I have to agree with craig_g. Short story. I was at dinner with Mark Neal of Neal Family Vineyards. Because I didn't think it was appropriate to bring one of his wines I didn't. I told him that I had considered bringing a bottle of his Chard, but didn't for the reason mentioned. His wife leaned over and said, "I wish you had, we don't have any left." A few years later I again had dinner with Mark, this time I brought the bottle of Chard and we enjoyed it immensely. As it turns out there were only 4 bottles of the Chard left in the DC area.

      1. While i appreciate the situations described by craig_g and dinwiddie, i would only do so if you happen to have something particularly old and uncommon from that winemaker...

        Me, i'd prob bring a bottle of something interesting that the winemaker might have not enjoyed recently (but not something from a local competitor) and which suits the food of the restaurant you are going to...for example, a Napa winemaker specializing in pinot noir might enjoy some Burgundy for a change if you happen to have a nice bottle...

        1 Reply
        1. re: Simon

          I agree with Simon -- current stuff would get boring, I'd think -- we know a couple of winemakers who end up drinking their own production when it's something that they can't/won't sell for whatever reason (might not be an AOC in an AOC region...several bottles left over, but not enough to run the bottling equipment...drinkable but not great)

          an old or special bottle might be a nice memory for them-- but the vintners we know are really, really interested in tasting things from other regions.

        2. IMO, bring something you like very much that is different from what the winemaker is doing.

          2 Replies
            1. re: RCC

              +2 When my husband owned a wine distributorship in VA, and CA winemakers came to call, they loved the European wines he pulled from his cellar. Tasting one's own wine was often tantamount to "work" when on the road, even if the social events were also with friends, is what I recall them saying. Tasting others' wines, particularly older or from a different country, was a treat, and put the focus on the wine, not the maker.

          1. Seems you have a *nice* dilemma to deal with. Just a couple of thoughts -
            "....a bottle of wine to share at dinner...." Me? one bottle ain't getting past apps, so 2 bottles wouldn't be a stretch. Why not have your cake and eat it too?
            Bring a wine you find interesting AND a bottle of hers. Display them both, say something stupid like "I really love your wine and thought about having it during dinner with you...ahhh, I also like this style of wine and thought about sharing it with you as well...I couldn't decide, it was tearing me apart, I even went on-line to ask advice for this dilemma, so I brought them both. What do you figure we open first?"
            I would think that with a "much older" woman, you'd have more lattitude in etiquette to begin with. In other words, don't worry about it TOO much, everything will be fine one way or another.

            One other thing, YOU MUST REPORT BACK and let us know how it went!

            1. I would, instead, choose another wine, but maybe with similarities, and bring that.

              Good luck, and enjoy,

              Hunt

              1. Ask!!!
                A couple of years back, my brother-in-law and I had the privilege of inviting Fritz Hesselbach, wine-maker of the famed German Estate 'Gunderloch' for a Peking Duck dinner in Toronto. Before the dinner, we actually asked him point blank, 'what type of wine does he like to drink so that we can bring along wines to the restaurant to go with our meal'. He actually told us that he preferred red but no 'French' since as a winemaker, he has had his fair share of great French wines through his fellow wine-maker friends. Instead, he asked us to 'surprise' him with something 'not too common'! Well, I brought along a 1988 Brunello di Montalcino Sassetti Livio Reserva by Pertamali. For once Parker's 96+ rating was spot on! The wine was sooooo good that Fritz actually commented it was the best Brunello he had ever drunk!! Coming from a wine maker with a number of Wine-Spectator 100pts wine under his belt, it sure was a nice compliment! However, I think he enjoyed the duck more!! Ha!!
                So my advise to you is bring along something nice and special so that the BOTH of you can discover its pleasure together!

                6 Replies
                1. re: Charles Yu

                  Or go to a wine bar and bring a duck!

                  1. re: porker

                    A guy walks into a wine bar with a duck.

                    The sommelier says "What are you doing with that?"

                    Guy says "People told me this was a good place to just duck in for a quick one"

                    1. re: Dave_in_PA

                      A duck from Toronto walks into a bar.
                      Bartender asks if he was going to order, maybe some wine?.
                      Duck says "Ahhh, no, I was curious, wanted to see in and was just Peking".

                      1. re: porker

                        A duck walks into a bar and orders a Côtes du Rhone.

                        Waiter pours the wine and says "that'll be $6.50"

                        "Okay," says the duck. "Put it on my bill."

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          A woman walks into a bar with a duck and orders a glass of jug wine.
                          The bartender pours the wine and says "Wheredja get the pig?"
                          The woman says "its a duck".
                          The bartender says "I was talking to the duck".

                          1. re: porker

                            Uh-h-h, had not expected that...

                            Hunt

                2. I sorta combine both of the threads of advice you've gotten here. I'm close friends with a winemaker in the Finger Lakes. When I visit his winery and have lunch on the deck I bring something interesting from another region... he's always interested in something new.. OR.. something I've just tasted at one of his local competitors that I think he should know about. He seems to appreciate either.

                  When I go to his barrel tastings I bring something of HIS that I've had in my cellar for several years.. as other people mentioned the winemaker doesn't always have old vintages around. (Plus it makes me OPEN THAT BOTTLE before I save it too long) So it makes for a nice vertical sampling. And yes I share it with everyone at the tasting.

                  1. Find out who's wines the winemaker likes or what style he likes and bring something else. I was at dinner with a winemaker where a friend brought one of his wines, and he said "Oh no, why did you bring that wine? I've drank way too much of that over the years." LOL! Another winemaker once said, "Ewww, you actually bought that wine? That's the worst wine I ever made." Though he was saying it in fun. -mJ

                    1. REPORT: So last night we met for dinner. I took the advice given here and didn't bring one of her wines (she's known primarily for pinot) but, instead, we brought a zin from another AVA from a winery run by a friend's father. She was very excited that we brought a zin, thought it would pair well with the food (upscale pizza) and liked the story behind it. She also presented us with a bottle of her unreleased '10 pinot to try and give her feedback on. We had a really great dinner with wonderful conversation and made plans to meet again next month. Thanks again for all the advice!

                      2 Replies