A friend recently hosted a dinner party and approached me with this question: “What’s the protocol when guests bring wine? Should you serve it?”.
Now, when it comes to things culinary, this friend is pretty darn sophisticated. Which is why his question stuck with me. If he struggles with this issue, others must too.
And at no time does this common conundrum more frequently arise than during the holiday season, starting pretty much…now.
Here’s my take on this vintage question.
First, consider this: when planning a meal, or a party with food, selecting wine that pairs well is high on the to-do list. Presumably, you’ve selected wine that complements the food you’re serving. It’s unlikely your guest was privy to your menu when she decided which wine to bring.
Therefore, treat your guests’ wine or liquor as the gift it was intended to be. Thank them, put it aside, and pour what you’ve planned.
Just because you’re not cracking open their bottle right this instant doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate it. It means you appreciate it enough to enjoy it at another time. And enjoyed it will be. (In my house, it will be enjoyed sooner than later, I promise!)
Here are two instances that serve as exceptions to this rule:
· If your guest’s wine pairs better with your meal than yours does
· If your guest says, “Can we break this open, I’d like to try it with you,” then reach for the corkscrew
Of course, if you’ve asked folks to bring something to contribute to the party, well then bottoms up!
May this be one less thing to mull over this holiday season.