This article first appeared in the Winter 2014/2015 issue of Newport Naked magazine
With the holidays fast approaching, it’s the perfect time to spread good cheer. Wine makes a thoughtful (and delicious) gift for a gracious host, Secret Santa, and just about anyone. Here, we answer some of your top etiquette questions when it comes to offering wine as a gift.
Q: Should I bring a personal favorite or something I know the host likes?
A: I’m in favor of bringing something you like. I think of my friends as adventurous—why not seize the opportunity to impress them and introduce something new? At the same time, if you know they prefer red, that can be a great starting point.
Q: Should I try to pair the bottle with food?
A: If you know what you are having for dinner, by all means. If not, an aperitif wine (or one that is served before dinner) makes a nice choice. Skipping Stone White and sparking wines are great options.
You may also bring a bottle that holds sentimental value—whether it’s from a destination you visited with the host or a winery you’ve been to in person. This adds a personal touch that is sure to be appreciated.
Q: When I bring a bottle for the host, should I expect that it will be opened or is it considered a gift for later?
A: Often the expectation is in the packaging and your host will follow your lead. If you bring an unwrapped bottle that you’d like to enjoy with the host that evening, you could say something like, “I’ve already got this chilled down—I’d be happy to open it for a toast before dinner!”
A wrapped bottled often tells the host that they should pop it open at a later time. You may say something like, “This is one of my favorites! When you have a quiet time to enjoy it, let me know what you think.”
Best case scenario: bring two! One for opening that evening and another as a gift.
Q: If the bottle is unopened by the time I leave, should I take it with me?
A: Typically no. You brought it as an offering and a way to say “thank you,” so you wouldn’t want to take it back. Let your hosts enjoy it when they’re ready.
Q: Is one bottle enough for a large party or should I bring two?
A: It’s not up to you to provide wine for the entire party so one bottle is a sufficient contribution. Chances are, other guests will come bearing wine as well.
Don’t let wine etiquette intimidate you. Remember: It’s the thought that counts, and you really can’t go wrong. Enjoy the festivities!