Wine for the Host: Should You Open It?


Wine for the Host: Should You Open It?

At this time of the year, many of us are bringing wine to friends hosting cocktail and dinner parties, or are receiving these bottles ourselves as hosts. So should you open that bottle and serve it with dinner? Or is it meant as a gift, to be stored in your cellar?

I'm asked this question frequently, not just from agonizing party organizers, but also from guests who are debating whether to take that special bottle that they've schlepped all the way from Napa or Bordeaux. The answer, I think, depends on a few factors:

- has the host asked you to bring wine to serve with dinner?
- did you call ahead to ask if you could bring a wine to be served with dinner, and if so, what is the host serving?
- do you know the person well and based on your past experience, know that he or she usually offers to open wines you bring?

For any of the above, then yes. Also, when I'm the host and guests bring wine (which is rare because many people are paranoid about giving wine to a wine writer), then I always ask if they'd like me open them.

However, if I'm the guest, I don't expect this as the host may have already planned out the wines, and may even have them decanted already. Short of decanting your wine on the doorstep, there is no other way to ensure your bottle will be opened, so you leave it in the hands of your host as a gracious gift for the hospitality extended to you.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Have you ever been in a sticky social situation with gift wine? Any clever ways or lines to deal with it?


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