C4 Deli Resident Bartender, Wine Purchaser and Texas native James Wall is the person you want on your best buddy list. Look out for his ‘red and white’ insight every Wednesday on ourWino Wednesday: Ask A Wino Q&A.
Q: What is the etiquette when friends bring a bottle for dinner? Should we serve it, or are we supposed to keep it for later?
A:The awkward moment when your dinner guests arrive with a bottle of wine in hand, and you have already spent the last week researching and hand picking the perfect wine pairings for the dinner you are about to serve. Is it rude to set the bottle of wine aside to drink later? Are your guests going to feel cheated out of not being able to drink the wine that they purposely purchased?
While there are always exceptions, the general rule of thumb is; gifted wine is meant to be saved for later. The guests should realize that the host has probably already planned ahead and thought of what would go best with the meal. If they have brought over a very nice bottle of wine they were hoping to taste, they should realize that once it leaves their hands it is now a gift, not their own wine. In adhering to this rule of etiquette, guests shouldn’t bring over a chilled bottle of wine as a gift, as that sends out the expectation that it will be opened.
The main exception to this rule is if a guest has called ahead of time asking what to bring and either suggests or is told to bring wine. In this case, you definitely should serve their wine, as it is more of a contribution to the meal than a gift. Reversely, if a host has run out of wine, and the wine that has been gifted would in fact go well with the meal, it is not rude to serve it, in order to keep the wine buzz and fun evening going.