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Wine with dinner when non-drinkers are present?

Spouse and I were bantering about "the rules" for serving liquor/wine when non-drinkers are in attendance. We invited a couple for a casual dinner and neither drinks - they met years ago in AA. I stated that since it was just going to be the 4 of us adults (+ 3 teen boys), DH and I should not serve nor drink wine (no big deal). However, if there were going to be more guests, say another couple, and they imbibed, then alcohol would be OK. The AA guests have not asked for a ban and they regularly attend events where wine is served.

Your thoughts?

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    1. That sounds like a thoughtful host.

      1. I think it is nice that you are willing to forgo serving wine but I have to say that I would not abstain if I felt like drinking wine with dinner.

        My feeling is that at my house I will serve what I want and guests can partake or not. I always have non alcoholic options available. Now if I am a guest in someone else's home and they do not serve alcohol, I am fine with that. It's their home and I would certainly respect their wishes.

        2 Replies
          1. re: baseballfan

            I'd ask them first whether they were comfortable with other people drinking. If they say they are, I'd just behave as normal. And make sure there is whatever they like to drink. I'm thinking of an abstinent friend - I actually buy Coca Cola for him, and I'd never touch the stuff - what he hasn't finished is poured down the drain after guests have left.

            One obviously has to either respect another person's house rules, whether they are due to health or religious issues, or decline the invitation. It is their house.

          2. I agree with you. My brother-in-law and his wife also met at AA; when it's just us for dinner, we don't serve alcohol (although they wouldn't object if we decided to drink, it's no problem not to). If there's a crowd, we do, but always make sure that they have something festive and non-alcoholic to drink.

            1. I think that's very nice, tcamp.

              My uncle is an "AA guest" at our family parties and dinners. He brings a bottle of sparkling juice so he can participate in toasts. Bonus points, he can share with the kids! He's a very good sport about it, and would never expect the party to be without alcohol just for him.

              1. Fair enough... I don't have alcohol in the house because it's going on twenty years since DH kicked the bottle, and I don't particularly care either way. If I'm out and there's the opportunity to imbibe, he encourages me to enjoy myself but I don't have any at home. Why make his life any harder than it needs to be? If I was hosting somebody who wasn't drinking, I wouldn't offer them alcohol any more than I'd shove a layer cake under the nose of a diabetic. We don't actively avoid alcohol while we're out, we just don't drink it...

                20 Replies
                1. re: Kajikit

                  I agree.

                  I've never understood, or respected, the person who knows a person has an addiction to something and then, in this case, drinks in front of them.
                  It's so damn disrespectful and, frankly, mean.

                  1. re: latindancer

                    Huh? I said I DON'T drink... if we go to a party where wine is available I'll have a glass, but that's it. I've never been much of a drinker to begin with. I don't even cook with the stuff because I don't want to have it in the house.

                    1. re: Kajikit

                      I think latindancer was agreeing with you.

                      1. re: Kajikit

                        I was agreeing with you.

                        It totally depends on where the person is in their recovery.
                        One month in? No way. No alcohol anywhere and absolutely nobody should be drinking in front of them.
                        Yes, as another mentioned, it's the addict's responsibility, no anyone else's.
                        However, friends and family, if they're truly supporting the addict's sobriety shouldn't be drinking in front of a newly sober person.

                        1. re: latindancer

                          Really the onus is on the addict to excuse him or herself from any activity/situation/surroundings which make him or her uncomfortable.

                          I might be more likely to relapse after 10 years of sobriety than after 10 days. It all depends on the individual and "where they are"...so to speak.

                          1. re: Frosty Melon

                            Of course.

                            Having said that, I'm never, ever inclined to have alcohol around anyone who's been sober for a month and is working hard on their sobriety and recovery.
                            It's disrespectful.
                            I do, however, know people who'll do it and ask 'this doesn't bother you does it?'
                            They don't understand addiction or couldn't care less.

                            1. re: latindancer

                              That's very considerate of you. But the last thing I want is anyone behaving any differently around me because I don't drink. It makes me uncomfortable, and uncomfortably self-aware. This was also true when I was newly sober.

                              1. re: Frosty Melon

                                I understand, completely.

                                I appreciate your candor.
                                I tend to be very enamored with people who are recovering from anything…
                                I completely respect them, am honest with them and find their character, strength, bravery and integrity unmatched.
                                'Enlightened' comes to mind.

                                1. re: latindancer

                                  Not all of us who have chosen to stop drinking regard our past condition as an illness from which we are "recovering". I understand that some folk are content to describe themselves as such, but I'm not one of them. Just saying.

                                  1. re: Harters

                                    I've never implied, and will never, describe an addiction as an 'illness'.
                                    It's not.
                                    Not sure where you read that I did.

                                    1. re: latindancer

                                      The debate rages on about whether or not addiction is an illness. Personally I'm not sure it really matters unless you're filing an insurance claim. But Harters just used the word as describing something from which one "recovers". I suppose you can, potentially, "recover" from anything that is debilitating.

                                      1. re: Midlife

                                        <The debate rages about whether or not addiction is an illness>

                                        Oh, hell, I couldn't care less.
                                        When a person gets to the point they want their life to change , without the addiction controlling their life, and they stop using whatever it is…
                                        They have my utmost respect and admiration. I'm in awe. Genetic predisposition, difficulty coping, etc., whatever it is…
                                        Who really cares? The term 'recovery' has been used in the 12 step approach which, for many, has been life-saving. I've never heard the term 'illness' to describe anything.

                                        1. re: latindancer

                                          I can easily see how 12 step programs would avoid a term that could help people deflect the importance of their own responsibility and potential to effect the successful outcome.

                                      2. re: latindancer

                                        I read in your earlier post that you are enamoured with people "recovering". As you'll know, in this context, the phrase is usually "recovering alcoholic". I have never felt that I am recovering from drink problems.

                                        Still, let us move on from this apsect of the conversation. It is mutually fruitless to continue.

                                        1. re: Harters

                                          I know people who've stopped drinking for various reasons, other than they're alcoholics: They can't afford the calories. They can't afford the price. They make an ass of themselves after one drink. They want to set a good example for their kids. I'm sure there are more. I doubt that any of these folks expect others to abstain in their presence.

                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                            A few other reasons why people give up drinking:

                                            - Alcohol aggravates a tendency for migraine headaches.
                                            - They are taking medication that should not be mixed with alcohol.
                                            - They are pregnant (and may not yet be showing or interested in explaining why they are not drinking).

                                              1. re: monavano

                                                That's me. I can't drink wine within the three hours before I go to bed, or I will awaken about 4 hours after going to sleep and not get back to sleep. This started in midlife, and it's actually a fairly common reaction to wine. (Certain distilled spirits don't have this effect that wine - red or white - does.) So I will typically avoid wine with dinner.

                                          2. re: Harters

                                            Yes, lots of people stop drinking alcohol or caffeine, eating sweets etc for completely unrelated reasons. Not all were addicts.

                              2. re: latindancer

                                Oh, okay... I misread you. I thought you were criticising me for drinking in front of my DH when we were out... forget I said anything. :) Actually the one time we went for a special dinner in a restaurant and he encouraged me to order a glass of wine, later on he said that he'd smelt it the whole night and found the smell a lot more unpleasant than he'd expected, so I'd never do it to him again... I wait for a party where everyone else is drinking and I can enjoy a glass or two a bit further away from him.

                        2. I think you should be honest and ask the non-drinking friends about the circumstances. They'll appreciate your honesty and your respect of their addiction.

                          If they're well along into their recovery then, most likely, they're not going to have a problem with alcohol being around.
                          Being they're a couple, are AA members and they're a support for each other in venues like you're describing it'll, most likely, be no problem.

                          1. We have this issue but it isn't because of AA but my in-laws are morally (religiously) opposed to alcohol. We did end up having alcohol at our wedding last month.

                            Last year at Thanksgiving before we were married, I did not serve while they were in the house. Before and after they left it was a free for all.

                            This year, we have some non-family guests as well and we feel that since more than half the guests would expect to drink (4 are against and 2-3 are underaged) we would like to at least serve wine with dinner. I am contemplating setting the table with wine glasses only in certain spots but I think it may be easier with so many preference to have drinks in the kitchen and folks can bring what they want to the table, besides water. We have gone back and forth. I think it bothers me a lot more than it bothers my husband.

                            14 Replies
                            1. re: melpy

                              In that case, have plenty of non-alcoholic options and let your guests choose their own beverage. The non-drinkers can have juice or punch... it generally works best when people choose their own drinks anyway.

                              1. re: melpy

                                if you have enough wine glasses, use them for all the drinks, wine or not.

                                1. re: Madrid

                                  Interesting idea. Typically the only other drink offered during a meal in their family is water and I have fancy water glasses I plan on using.

                                  1. re: melpy

                                    Love what others have said, everyone gets wine glasses and serves their own beverages. Keep water glasses for everyone on the table.
                                    Mixing together a pretty and festive non alchoholic drink (sparkling water with a splash of cranberry juice and floating slices of lemon and lime, or sparkling water with fresh cucumber slices and lemon) would be a special touch

                                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                                      I recently spent a week in the Caribbean, and had several "mocktails" that tasted like cocktails to me. Lots of tropical fruit juices and cane syrup.

                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                        One of my favorite NYTimes articles was geared towards mocktails a few years ago. I've tried every one and they were all terrific. I drink alcohol but I def. enjoy a well made mocktail.

                                        includes the recipe for each drink.

                                          1. re: girloftheworld

                                            Any particular favorite you can share. I'd love a new one for Thanksgiving.

                                            1. re: HillJ

                                              Mayflower Tea
                                              • 1 lime cut into zest strips with a vegetable peeler
                                              •1/2 cup fresh lime juice
                                              •3/4 cup sugar
                                              •1/4 cup cold water
                                              •1/2 cup packed fresh tarragon leaves only
                                              •4 Earl Grey tea bags
                                              •8 cups boiling-hot water

                                              trim any white from lime. Bring lime, juice, sugar, and cold water to a boil, stirring, then let stand, uncovered untill cool to make syrup,

                                              Discard lime. Blend syrup with tarragon in a blender 30 seconds. Strain through a sieve lined with a wet cheese cloth into a glass bowl and cool completely.

                                              Pour boiling-hot water over tea in a heatproof pitcher and let steep 6 minutes, then throwaway tea bags. Cool tea completely.Stir syrup into tea and chill at least 1 hour and up to 6 (cover tightly). Serve over crushed ice garnish with fresh lime swrils

                                              1. re: girloftheworld

                                                I'm writing that one down! Sometimes I have difficulty finding fresh tarragon but what an interesting use for them, thanks!

                                  2. re: Madrid

                                    This is what we do, and it works very well. The teens and non-drinkers just put juice, soda, or fizzy water in their wine glasses, and the drinkers put wine in theirs. At a more formal dinner, we'll also have water goblets. My family did it this way when I was a child and I've continued the practice in my own home because it seems like a good way not to single anyone out or make what's in the glass an issue.

                                    1. re: Isolda

                                      When my middle child (now an adult) was a young and we used all the same glassware during a party he mistook his Dad's scotch for iced tea and after taking a big gulp before anyone could stop him we heard a very loud gurgle coming from the kitchen.....he never slept so soundly...but he continues to share the story about the day his Dad tried to get him hammered.

                                  3. re: melpy

                                    We are now down to 10 people from 16 (why I bothered to order the turkey already I don't know, lots of leftovers will be going home with others).

                                    Of the the 10 that are left only 4 drink and those will be the ones living/sleeping over. Dinner is at 12 (not my idea) and folks don't usually show up too early. I'm thinking bloody marys for the AM while we are cooking and then wine in the afternoon after they leave. No alcohol at dinner.

                                    1. re: melpy

                                      No, I wouldn't put up with that religious stuff in my own home. That is very different from someone in recovery. Obviously, if I'm visiting observant Muslim friends, I wouldn't bring or expect wine, but if people are invited to dinner, they have to put up with my house rules - I'll be sure to have pleasant beverage alternatives - I always do, anyway - and not put any wine in dishes served.

                                      Nobody on earth is going to make me observe their religious strictures.

                                    2. I don't drink. My partner does. She usually has an aperitif before dinner and wine with. We both accept each others decisions in these matters.

                                      We regularly dine out with another couple. Again, one drinks and the other doesnt. The two who drink have their beer and wine and the other two have water or some other soft drink.

                                      I would regard it as completely outrageous if I was to invite someone to my home and they were to insist that I not serve alcohol. It is their decision (and mine) not to drink. No-one else is responsible for that. If it was to bother the guest that alcohol was being served, they have the option to decline the invitation.

                                      1. If they are in AA they are not hiding the alcohol issue. They live in the real world and there is temptation everywhere.
                                        If you are close enough to them to have them for dinner just ask if they would be uncomfortable.
                                        I always have a couple of bottles of sparkling apple cider for festive occasions.

                                        9 Replies
                                        1. re: Motosport

                                          Right, it is no secret. For clarification, I am 99.999% sure my guests would say "no problem, you go ahead" as we've been at many events together where many people, including me, have had wine glasses in hand.

                                          1. re: tcamp

                                            When I first stopped drinking (14 years back), it was difficult. There were places, like bars, that I avoided. It just didnt feel right to be in a bar and not be having a beer. Now I will happily go into a bar and order a soft drink - it's not as much fun of course, so rarely do it. But I have never for one moment thought that my partner should also stop, or that we should stop having alcohol in the house to offer to guests. This is my issue, not anyone else's. I can choose to drink or choose not to drink. No-one else is responsible.

                                          2. re: Motosport

                                            Isn't there a bit of alcohol in sparkling cider? Usually about as much as in beer?

                                              1. re: coll

                                                I suspect this is another regional thing. Here in Québec, cider is fermented. If not it is (unfiltred) apple juice.

                                                1. re: lagatta

                                                  You're probably right. The sparkly stuff here is apple juice, whether they call it cider or not; I shouldn't have jumped in because I have only had it rarely. The only brands I've had are Martinelli and Welchs and they sell them in the supermarket, so definitely no alcohol involved.

                                                  1. re: lagatta

                                                    Same in the UK, lagatta. Cider is alcohol, otherwise it's apple juice. And we can get sparkling cider (often French, but we make some here)

                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                      Fresh cider from the farm stand is big this time of year around here. No alcohol, but I hear if you let it sit long enough, it may ferment and surprise you!

                                                2. re: lagatta

                                                  No, it's basically carbonated apple juice.

                                              2. I visit people's homes, as well as various events, at which alcohol is not served. Now, even though I prefer to drink before, during and after most meals, I am not offended by their choice. I am polite and respectful of their decision not to imbibe. Also, I pack a flask.

                                                1. About half of my friends don't drink for various reasons. When I have an informal party I stock the fridge with beer, wine, sodas, juices, and fizzy water and let people chose what they want. If I'm having a more formal and festive dinner and plan to bring out the sparkling wines and the good wines, I'll get some fancy designer waters or more exotic juices for those who don't drink alcohol (or those who do, for that matter) to make it feel more like a special occasion.

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: tardigrade

                                                    That sounds like the perfect solution, tardigrade. Sometimes I wish more people in my family didn't drink - nearly all of them are big drinkers (as in, cocktails before dinner, wine with, and cordials or port after) and hosting them gets expensive! However for those who don't drink, I always provide a selection of beverages to choose from - although in candor, my non-drinkers usually just choose ice water, occasionally a soft drink.

                                                    1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                      This is tough for us because I don't drink any "soft" drinks besides water, skim milk, tea, coffee and seltzer or sparkling water (unflavored). I do not like to keep soda in the house and use juices sparingly in cooking. For casual things it is hard to get other things not knowing what people will want and then I am stuck with them.

                                                      Maybe I should ask people to bring what they want to drink?

                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                        Melpy, that's another great idea! We don't drink soft drinks either, but since they last forever unopened, we just get an assortment of small bottles for the party. Also, I'm not usually a fan of fruit punch (i.e., punch bowl type drinks) but this summer I made a Martha Stewart punch for a funeral reception, and I have to say it was fabulous. It changed my view of non-alcoholic fruit punch. I'd be glad to find the recipe if that appeals to you!

                                                        1. re: melpy

                                                          I always have cases of Pellegrino (with lime) on hand for people who don't drink.
                                                          It's satisfying and refreshing.

                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                            Stopped drinking the 'hard stuff' years ago. Even had a 'still' at one point. Very fortunately never had a problem quitting booze or dope or tobacco. Of which in my early twenties pretty much defined who I was.
                                                            I feel very sorry for anyone with a serious drinking/drug problem.......especially those who are basically 'dry drunks' who must 'pretend' to have their addiction under control. They don't and never will. Their day to day life is miserable anyway. Let them live their own lives the way they want to IMO.
                                                            Just don't try to steal my BBQ to buy your addiction of choice or I'll cut your nuts off! Otherwise fill your boots.

                                                          2. re: melpy

                                                            I hate it when we go somewhere and all they have to offer is diet coke or tap water. Ugh... I don't make a fuss, but I've very rarely tasted a drinkable diet soda, and in fact I prefer not to have soda at all. And I HATE iced tea even more than soda, but I know most Americans take it for granted. Most of the time I just drink water... but it's nice to have something fancier at a celebration. I try to offer diet and regular soda, homemade iced tea and/or lemonade, and filtered water. If I'm lashing out and doing something fancy, something like vitamin water is a really nice, if rather spendy, alternative.

                                                      2. I liked your approach, and also like that you are doing it on your own and not because your guests are forcing the issue. Pleasantly accommodating hosts and pleasantly accommodated guests make for nice dinner parties.

                                                        It would feel odd to me, at an event with only 2 guests, to serve anything that one of the guests couldn't consume, whether that was alcohol, gluten, tomatoes, mushrooms, dairy, eggs or whatever. For such a small group, I would try to choose things that everyone would partake in, and I don't feel that alcohol is absolutely necessary to complete a dinner such that I couldn't possibly forgo it.

                                                        A group of 6 would be on the borderline for me. I might offer a single low key alcoholic option -- a bottle of cider or wine -- amidst a larger selection on non-alcoholic options, but I might go with a fancy non-alcoholic punch instead, still thinking that with such a small group, why not make sure everything on offer was accessible to everyone?

                                                        Much bigger of a group than that and unless I knew that the AA guests had a huge problem with it, I would offer an assortment of beverage options, including whatever kinds of alcohol I would normally include for a group.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                          I think we are lucky to have our two good friends that we dine with regularly. The husband drinks rum and must eat gluten free. The wife drinks margaritas and loves sweets. My husband and I don't drink at all for health reasons (diabetes2, liver disease), though we have no objection to it. We eat anything and everything.
                                                          The upshot of all this is that I make most of the meal gluten free, but if I want to make non gluten free snacks or desserts, I do that, too. They drink, he eats what he can, we eat whatever...everyone's happy.

                                                          They know we particularly like seltzer water, so they got themselves a SodaStream, and stock the bottles in the fridge before we come over. They keep some flavored canned seltzers, too. When the party gets bigger, we still don't care if they drink. If anyone is uncomfortable about that, it's not us.

                                                          I get the impression on these threads on CH that some imbibers believe that we wish we could drink, too, and they feel uncomfortable drinking in front of us. Think of it this way: if you were eating a pickle, and I didn't want to eat a pickle, would you feel guilty eating your pickle in front of me (unless I were in 'pickle recovery')? No, you'd just eat the damn pickle and not give it another thought. That's as it should be.

                                                        2. if it is just going to be the two Hosts drinking I would probally call "bad form" on serving.

                                                          My dad often attends where things are served. We even serve it our home when it is a large gathering because he has live in the real world. However, in this case you are the ones in control of your guests comfort and there really isnt any need to add even a modicum of it if it is in your power.

                                                          serve a nice herbal ice tea, or sparkling water

                                                          rule of thumb If the majority is not drinking that is what you serve....

                                                          Even if they say it doesnt bother them... It is up to as the host to not have the question even come up...

                                                          My dad knows certain situations it will. It goes with the territory.... an intimate dinner shouldnt be one.

                                                          1. It depends on the reason for the guests' non-drinking.
                                                            For dinner guests who are former alcoholics, I ask them honestly before the dinner, if it is ok to drink in front of them, without serving them.
                                                            Most were ok. One friend said he was not sure. I decided not to drink, just to keep him company and to express "solidarity".
                                                            I don't have such consideration for those who abstain for religious reasons.
                                                            What's the difference ? Throw me to the wolves: It's my personal prejudice. I respect those who try to overcome a big addiction.

                                                            37 Replies
                                                            1. re: Parigi

                                                              How do you figure out why people don't drink? It's probably easy with family but how does it come up with new friends or with coworkers?

                                                              1. re: Hobbert

                                                                I find that most people are fairly open about why they *don't* do things.

                                                                While I pretty much feel the same as Parigi, in the end it's none of my business why they choose not to drink, just like people choose not to eat bacon because they think they shouldn't for health or religious reasons.

                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                  I reckon you may be right, lingua. If the subject actually crops up (which is rare), I'm usually content to tell folk why I stopped drinking. From time to time over the years, there's been people who ask in the "wrong" way - I get a sense that they hint that I am not "normal". They get nothing from me.

                                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                                    People are strange. I'm not sure it would occur to me, after having been told someone doesn't drink, to ask "why?"

                                                                    a) I don't care.
                                                                    b) It's none of my business, as long as they care just as little that I drink.
                                                                    c) "I don't like booze" seems like a pretty reasonable answer to the question, whether it's the truth or not. Anyone who keeps digging after that comment is just being a dick.

                                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                                      Why there's any fixation or morbid curiosity as to what someone drinks or doesn't drink is just odd.
                                                                      I particularly like c)

                                                                      Good post.

                                                                  2. re: linguafood

                                                                    Personally, I find it odd when people ask me why I don't drink. It's usually a preface to trying to convince me to "just have one drink" (ugh)... But again, I personally don't care if others drink in front of me- I just don't want to feel awkward having to ask for water.

                                                                  3. re: Hobbert

                                                                    My old friends who used to pressure us often TO drink. Have now decided that they don't drink. It make things difficult because we drink a little more than we used to and they drink none. As couples we have little in common but the ladies are best friends from middle school. They have also recently gone vegetarian which took away another thing we had in common which was cooking. We used to have them over to eat often and now not so much because it was typically spur of the moment and I don't do strictly veg. spur of the moment so much any more.

                                                                    1. re: melpy

                                                                      Yeah, some people move themselves into the "activities other than meals" friends :)

                                                                      1. re: Hobbert

                                                                        They are quickly becoming, movies and then talk for 30 minutes in the parking lot before we get in the car to go home friends. This way the men don't really have to speak to eachother.

                                                                        1. re: melpy

                                                                          And that's ok. Different people fit into different categories. The trick is figuring it out!

                                                                    2. re: Hobbert

                                                                      <How do you figure out why people don't drink?>

                                                                      What difference does it make, why people don't drink?
                                                                      It's none of my business, or anyone else's for that matter.
                                                                      If a person chooses not to drink, then I would never begin a discussion about it unless the person wants to discuss it, and then the discussion would be very quick, or not at all, on my part.

                                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                                        I agree with you. I'm trying to understand Parigi's approach.

                                                                        1. re: Hobbert

                                                                          I'm understand Parigi's approach this way…

                                                                          If Parigi finds someone is abstaining because of addiction (and everyone is aware of it) then he/she asks them if it's okay to drink in front of them.
                                                                          That is a very logical, reasonable and compassionate approach.
                                                                          A person not drinking for religious reasons is a totally different concept. In my opinion it's just not dealt with the same. The temptation isn't there.

                                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                                            And here I thought it was Satan tempting them with booze :-D

                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                              "Satan" comes in all shapes, sizes and color…

                                                                              I've known many 'satans' who get off on tempting addicts.
                                                                              It's disgusting.

                                                                            2. re: latindancer

                                                                              I'm generally inclined to agree with that conclusion. But I'm still confused about how the conversation regarding why someone doesn't drink goes.

                                                                              I'm my experience, it's something like this:

                                                                              You: Can I offer you some wine?

                                                                              Me: No, thanks. I don't drink. I'm fine with water.

                                                                              You: Why don't you drink?

                                                                              Me: Because I'm an adult and get to do what I want...

                                                                              1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                Who the hell would ask anyone why they don't drink?

                                                                                It's highly intrusive and could easily turn to judgmental. Or maybe it's judgmental before the question's even asked?
                                                                                When someone says they don't drink, the conversation's ended.

                                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                                  Ok, agreed. That's the part of Parigi's approach that puzzles me. *How* do you find out why people don't drink in a way that's not intrusive? My (and, I suspect, your) point is that there isn't a way to do that short of just getting to know someone and sharing personal details. Hell, my immediate family doesn't know why my husband doesn't drink. It's rude to ask!

                                                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                                                    I think Miss Manners would say "give a quizzical look and a Stepford smile" to that query.

                                                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                                                      The same people who ask single people why they don't find someone, or why unmarried couples don't tie the knot, or why childless couples don't have children or______

                                                                                      Because some people are nosy, rude and lack boundaries.

                                                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                                                        Oh, it's usually judgemental when the question's asked, latindancer.

                                                                                2. re: latindancer

                                                                                  It can make a difference if you're cooking with alcohol, if they have a strong moral objection to it, or are new to recovery, as has been discussed. Not on your diet? Just don't like the taste? I can still put a splash of red wine in my tomato sauce without ruining it for you, and drink to my heart's content. Newly sober? Religious reasons? Best to not cook with it, and don't drink in front of them if it will make them uncomfortable.

                                                                                  Yes it's not my business, but as a hostess it's easier when you have as much information as possible.

                                                                                  1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                    I agree you need to know if cooking with alcohol is a non-starter for a guest, but for me, I'd leave it at that and move along smartly, not think it was any of my business to find out why.

                                                                                    1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                      If a person tells me they don't drink then I automatically leave it out of the food I'm cooking.
                                                                                      I don't ask because whether or not they're newly sober or have religious obligations it's all the same…

                                                                                      They're not drinking. End of story.

                                                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                                                        Oh, I would only ask if I was that kind of close to a person. New acquaintance or guest? Nope.

                                                                                        But yes, as a rule of thumb it's none of my business and if I have to ask myself if it's a rude question, then I generally assume it's a rude question. I am often rude and blunt by accident - but almost never intentionally :)

                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                          does cooking with alcohol count? it burns off right" I always wondered that.

                                                                                          1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                            I think it cooks off for the most part, but the flavor alone can be a trigger for some, so it's best left out.

                                                                                            1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                              Gotw, in a way, the alcohol does burn off, but there are compounds that are left behind. Those compounds are what a person with liver ailments needs to avoid, whether they can taste them or not.

                                                                                              1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                ahhh good to know...
                                                                                                pehaps when I print my menus in the future I should not only put my little wheat sheaf for Gluten my little peanut for peanuts my little pig for pork but now a little bottle for alcohol

                                                                                                1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                  <my little peanut for peanuts>

                                                                                                  That's really a very good point.

                                                                                                  If you know someone has a peanut allergy (life threatening) we wouldn't have peanuts in the kitchen, anywhere in sight.
                                                                                                  Why would someone cook with alcohol, knowing the person doesn't drink? It doesn't burn off, as many believe, and the taste is definitely a trigger for the alcoholic.

                                                                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                    because often you may not know everyone at a parties history. we often have 50 or 60 people in our home and some are guests of guests... quite honestly I have never thought about how often I cook with it... but it reallllly is a lot. ,beer in soups and stews..I made bread yesterday with one...There is a red and white cooking wine by the stove that I use all the time with sauces..gravy..I candied oranges in perseco ..

                                                                                                    1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                      <often you may not know everyone at a parties history>

                                                                                                      I'm thinking this thread/ conversation is talking about whether or not we know about another person's decision not to drink alcohol.
                                                                                                      Of course we're not going to leave out ingredients with 50-60 people, not knowing if anyone's abstaining.
                                                                                                      I'm talking about a KNOWN peanut allergy, a KNOWN alcoholic, etc.

                                                                                              2. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                There's an interesting thread about alcohol content in cooked foods rolling around here somewhere. I have a coworker who won't drink but will eat food cooked with wine, beer, or bourbon. But it's a no-no for those in recovery.

                                                                                                1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                  Like Carla Hall, who "eats" her alcohol.

                                                                                                2. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                  no, it doesn't completely burn off. that myth was tested and busted a long while ago. if you want the flavor profile of wine in cooking without the alcohol (for example, in risotto), use verjus.

                                                                                                  1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                    Personally, I'm happy to use alcohol in cooking - of course, everyone who chooses not to drink sets their own boundaries. For some, flavour will be an issue. Fortunately, it isn't for me - I'm also content to occasionally drink alcohol free "wine". But wouldnt want to do so regularly - I think I might find that a slippery slope (and don't want to find out that's true).

                                                                                          2. re: Parigi

                                                                                            I agree with Parigi. I'd always be sure to respect people's dietary preferences, whether due to allergy/illness or religion, but there is no way I'll abstain from eating or drinking anything because of another's religion in my house. It isn't a prejudice; it is a secularist principle.

                                                                                            I'd never serve pork to an observant Muslim or Jew (and I'd avoid it unless I knew the guest was non-observant). Idem anything with alcohol in it if there was a question of faith (or of course of any health concern). But nobody is going to impose their religious beliefs or strictures on me.

                                                                                          3. So, here's how I see it. My husband doesn't drink due to religious reasons and I very, very rarely drink since I don't care for alcohol. That said, we could care less if others drink around us. Unless they're getting drunk- then we're leaving :) However, please have something for us to drink that's not an obvious afterthought that screams that we're antisocial weirdos. Thanks!

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                                                                                            1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                              this it why my mom puts the expensive soda and water cool "grown-up" non alcoholic drinks in a seperate ice bucket than the juice boxes and kids soft drinks.

                                                                                            2. This is such a touchy subject. I was expecting the type of discussion that the mods end up locking. Good job all! (Pats everyone on back.)
                                                                                              I agree with your plan - if it's just the four of you, don't serve it if you won't miss it. If there are more, have it available for those who want it. I come from a drinky family that consequently has some experience with addiction. We'd never, for example, not serve alcohol at a big family gathering, but if I just have my cousin (recovering) to dinner with me and my husband, we wouldn't drink. She's made it clear that it's part of her process - to deal with real world situations and temptations - and doesn't want anyone walking on eggshells around her. For people you don't know as well, however it can't hurt to just ask.

                                                                                              1. If a friend was fresh out of rehab I'd probably feel differently, but I have a few friends/in-laws who don't drink anymore and I don't abstain around them. My father-in-law, sober for 20+ years, is always the first to pour me a glass of wine when I come over.

                                                                                                1. Just my personal choice, but I'd order something non-alcoholic. Just like when I dined out with a family who kept kosher at home (but realized the restaurant wouldn't be kosher), I elected not to order my beloved country ham. Even tho' they were willing to relax their standards a bit with the choice of restaurant, I wanted to respect their beliefs.

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                                                                                                  1. re: pine time

                                                                                                    If we were going out, I wouldn't have hesitated to order a glass of wine but for some reason took a different stance when entertaining my AA friends.

                                                                                                  2. I'm a non-drinker. It's not addiction, I just don't care for it. And I wouldn't give a second thought to anyone enjoying alcohol around me.

                                                                                                    I have a good friend who's an alcoholic. I well remember the days when she was still struggling and then first getting a handle on it. There was a time when to drink around her would be cruelty. But that passed and her response became that it was in the world and she had no wish to avoid it when she was firm in her resolve not to drink. Eventuall, she and her husband kept a bar in their home for him and for company.

                                                                                                    So, check with your friends and see how they feel about it. Or abstain yourself. I'm sure either will work.

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                                                                                                    1. re: rainey

                                                                                                      I think this is critical to how to approach the situation. I rarely drink anymore more out of personal preference just because I've never really liked the taste. When hosting others I always serve wine as long as there are no other considerations, when out with others I don't mind at all if others order alcohol. The situation does get quite uncomfortable and awkward when people start inquiring "why aren't you drinking" and then try to force it on you with "oh just one, come on you know you want to how could you not drink." I think this is part of the reason I started to avoid some happy hours with colleagues because the comments were inappropriate and annoying.

                                                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                        Yup yup and yup.

                                                                                                        I once worked at a company where, at the anniversary party, my boss tried bullying me into drinking during the toast. There were no non-alcoholic drinks provided for the toast, so she was entirely concerned with image and what the hell was the matter with me anyway (her words). I was nearly fired simply because I refused to drink alcohol (polite I was, by the way). I quit very shortly after that - that bullying was endemic of company behavior anyway.

                                                                                                        Don't be that person.

                                                                                                    2. I appreciate all of the comments. We had them over last Sunday and, as I stated in the OP, I opted not to serve alcohol. We had still and sparkling water and cranberry/seltzer cocktails beforehand.

                                                                                                      I know they are AA as they mentioned it (they met there, years ago) in passing one time. I am sure they wouldn't have minded wine present and, in fact, we're cohosting an event in the next month where wine will be served. It just felt right, ya know?

                                                                                                      1. My husband and I both don't drink at all ever. We wouldn't care if other people we were dining with drank. If you got drunk and vomited over me, yeah, I'd care. But if the drinking is moderate, I could not care less.

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                                                                                                        1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                          Yeah, dinner parties that include vomiting are, by definition, a bad thing.