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It's Their Party But Your Wine


Craig Camp
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I think that in the case that the article opens with, there's something wrong with expecting to serve expensive, carefully thought out wine at a real cookout.  As far as I'm concerned, table wine would be just fine and a great wine is overkill.

i don't ever find a situation where "cheap wine" is a reasonable alternative to something good or at the very least decent. as they say, life's too short to drink cheap wine.

Edited by tommy (log)
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Obviously this a subject that has a lot of sides, probably all vaild to varying degrees. My experience in France was that a host {hostess} would be offended if I brought wine to a dinner party. As I was told it was that the host, being the host, was solely responsible for the guests enjoyment of the food and accompaning wine. Maybe things have changed but it made sense to me at the time. I run a wine businees and I am often asked to suggest, purchase or outright "bring the wine" to parties I'm invited to. Flattering, but. Often, when dealing with friends or family, I'll bring a selection of wines in a carrier and conveniently stash it. If there is shortage wine or the opportunity to introduce a new varietal or find into the proceedings I pull something out of the stash. I guess it all boils downto how well you know your host.

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Craig, I believe that if I am going to bring any wine to someone's house, I would check with them to find out the kind of food to be served with it. Once I determine with their help, the wine selection, I bring that wine and additional wine or wines as gifts to be left for future consumption. My friends and others, that I share wine experiences with, know that I am oppinionated and that they are better off if they let me bring wine from my cellar. I try to be very thorough about the wine and food pairings. I have been known to bring not only wines, but food, wine glasses. I do this with approval of the hosts. They usually welcome my interference.

" Food and Wine Fanatic"

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Craig, I believe that if I am going to bring any wine to someone's house, I would check with them to find out the kind of food to be served with it. Once I determine with their help, the wine selection, I bring that wine and additional wine or wines as gifts to be left for future consumption. My friends and others, that I share wine experiences with, know that I am oppinionated and that they are better off if they let me bring wine from my cellar. I try to be very thorough about the wine and food pairings. I have been known to bring not only wines, but food, wine glasses. I do this with approval of the hosts. They usually welcome my interference.

Let me get this straight. You will come over for dinner and bring the wine, wine for later, the food and even the glasses? Isn't that called catering?:wink:

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I think that in the case that the article opens with, there's something wrong with expecting to serve expensive, carefully thought out wine at a real cookout.  As far as I'm concerned, table wine would be just fine and a great wine is overkill.

i don't ever find a situation where "cheap wine" is a reasonable alternative to something good or at the very least decent. as they say, life's too short to drink cheap wine.

:smile: Tommy,

"Cheap" wine isn't necessarily bad wine and "expensive" wine isn't necessarily good wine. It is just that "Life is too short to drink 'bad' wine" :smile: .

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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The guest clutching a bottle or two of wine has never presented a problem to me. If, perchance, the wine fits the menu, I happily open it. Otherwise, something along the lines of - "this would go perfectly with pasta - I will keep it for a next time" seems to do the trick.

"Cheap" wine isn't necessarily bad wine and "expensive" wine isn't necessarily good wine.

I have now had it with the prices of local wine. It seems that the moment an estate gains some recognition, prices shoot throught the roof.

"A gold medal at the prestigious Podunk competition" - double the price

"Selected by Ethiopian Air for their business class" - double the price

"Three stars in the Joe Bloggs Guide to Wine" - double the price

I have embarked on a determined quest to find good, low priced wine. The method - set a price ceiling, buy 12 bottles of a specific cultivar within that price and taste against a known quality "benchmark" wine of the same cultivar. Have had one session that has led to at least one "discovery".

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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I have embarked on a determined quest to find good, low priced wine. The method - set a price ceiling, buy 12 bottles of a specific cultivar within that price and taste against a known quality "benchmark" wine of the same cultivar. Have had one session that has led to at least one "discovery".
gsquared Posted on May 15 2003, 01:10 AM

Do please clue us in on your discovery.

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I like the author's approach. He doesn't just swoop in with a bottle of wine and say "This is what we're drinking, folks!" he makes it clear that he's bringing a wine he would like *everyone* to try. What is wrong with that? If I were the hostess, I would say bring it on! As for a hostess gift, he does take a gift wine, but he (again) makes it clear that it's a gift to be enjoyed later.

As a hostess, I love it when friends bring wine, but I often have to ascertain what the guests would like me to do with it. In an attempt to be polite, they leave me guessing as to whether they'd like to try it themselves or whether it's a gift to be opened later. I usually just ask. "Wow! This looks wonderful! Would you like to open this one now or would you prefer to try this Château Whatever I've planned. Usually, they want to try my Whatever and we end up opening both. If it's a case where they seem excited about trying the one they brought, that makes the wine all the more special, as half the fun of tasting wines is getting other people's impressions.

Edited by claire797 (log)
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edit:  upon further review, i see that the "chipping-in" bit is referencing a higher-end pre-dinner tasting.  clearly this is a step beyond "dinner with wine."  the article is offering yet another way to make everyone's night more interesting.  for shame.

I'm sure we've all been to the theater or nightclub where someone in the audience thinks he's got something more interesting to say than the guy on stage. It can be just plain rude to tell the host you can plan a more interesting evening than he has. Whatever this guy may do with his close friends, I don't think he's offering helpful advice to a readership that's looking for advice. I'm sure serious wine buffs have developed their own strategies and I hope they can pull them off without offense.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Not sure that this will mean much to you - I do not know what is available outside S.A.

The tasting was against a hallmark 1974 Rustenburg Cab Sauv. The discovery was a 2001 Backsberg Cab Sauv - a complex "new generation" wine with a fruity bouquet, smooth tannins, ripe berry fruits, well-rounded with a prominent after-taste - at R36 ($5) per bottle, an absolute steal.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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maggiethecat Posted: May 14 2003, 09:44 AM

A note on flowers: I love flowers. But! please bring them in a vase. Oh, the scores of times I've had to neglect the hors d'oeuvres to Deal With The Flowers.

Seriously??

As Bux explained earlier, in France the norm for a dinner guest would be flowers, not wine. As for whether or not the bottle gets drunk, in the States there can be no consistent rule since it really depends on the nature of the friendship with the host/ess and the nature of the gathering. When I bring wine, normally I do not expect my host/ess to open it for dinner. However if I would like that to happen, I might at least keep the option open, for instance by chilling the white beforehand. If the hint is not taken, nothing is lost.

As far as no flowers sans vase, it strikes me the same etiquette applies, consideration for the host/ess. I know when I am traveling and am invited out, there is often barely enough time to find an appropriate dinner-gift, let alone flowers AND a vase. Locally the best flowershop in town does not stock vases for example. Thus if I do bring flowers, the best I should expect from my hosts would be that they dunk them in a bottle as a holding action until the entrees, mains, and whatever else needs attention are finished. Just as one should not expect the wine to be opened, one should not expect the flowers to be displayed. They are for the hosts to enjoy whenever they please.

On the other hand a considerate guest at an informal party among close friends might offer to Deal with the Flowers so Maggie et al. can handle the more pressing matters of feeding the guests. We are always grateful for such initiative.

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I'm sure serious wine buffs have developed their own strategies and I hope they can pull them off without offense.

yeah bux, we less serious guys should reconsider and retool our approach.

i don't understand why you can't see that this approach works fine for some and not for others. his audience, clearly, is those for whom it works. let's make a deal: when you invite me to your home, i won't bring any wine. when i invite you to my home, bring enough for everyone. thanks. :biggrin:

Edited by tommy (log)
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I like the author's approach.  He doesn't just swoop in with a bottle of wine and say "This is what we're drinking, folks!" he makes it clear that he's bringing a wine he would like *everyone* to try.  What is wrong with that?  If I were the hostess, I would say bring it on!  As for a hostess gift, he does take a gift wine, but he (again) makes it clear that it's a gift to be enjoyed later. 

As a hostess,  I love it when friends bring wine, but I often have to ascertain what the guests would like me to do with it.  In an attempt to be polite, they leave me guessing as to whether they'd like to try it themselves or whether it's a gift to be opened later.  I usually just ask.  "Wow!  This looks wonderful!  Would you like to open this one now or would you prefer to try this Château Whatever I've planned.  Usually, they want to try my Whatever and we end up opening both.  If it's a case where they seem excited about trying the one they brought, that makes the wine all the more special, as half the fun of tasting wines is getting other people's impressions.

Two things a guest should not do.

-1) Leave a hostess guessing.

-2) Impose his interests on the hostess' plans for the evening.

I'm having smoked salmon, cold cream of cucumber soup, poached skate with capers, a selection of goat cheeses and flan for dessert. My guest arrives with a bottle of cabernet he would like us all to enjoy this evening. I'm being imposed upon if I've planned the meal. If on the other hand, I wait until guests arrive and then look to see what's in the refrigerator that's another story.

Never should a guest arrive with an unannounced bottle of wine and expect it to be served. Even our journalist prearranges his participation in the meal.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I'm having smoked salmon, cold cream of cucumber soup, poached skate with capers, a selection of goat cheeses and flan for dessert. My guest arrives with a bottle of cabernet he would like us all to enjoy this evening. I'm being imposed upon if I've planned the meal. If on the other hand, I wait until guests arrive and then look to see what's in the refrigerator that's another story.

some non-experts enjoy wine before and after dinner as well as during. again, i guess not at your home.

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i don't understand why you can't see that this approach works fine for some and not for others.  his audience, clearly, is those for whom it works.

Obviously it works for him. I can't say how well it works for his hosts. :biggrin:

let's make a deal:  when you invite me to your home, i won't bring any wine.  when i invite you to my home, bring enough for everyone.  thanks.  :biggrin:

Watch out for the deals you make, you could be sorry at both ends. :biggrin:

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Now that John Foy has joined the staff with Todarro --- hopefully we will get less of his silly writing and Foy can add some food and wine intellect. But, be that as it may...

When guests come to my home for dinner and they ask what to bring -- I tell please bring nothing -- you are my guest. Fortunately they know not to bring wine, unfortunately some still bring food, usually dessert, of which I now have too much.

When the shoe is on the other foot, I bring Champagne with a note to put this away for a special occasion in the future.

Viejo

The Best Kind of Wine is That Which is Most Pleasant to Him Who Drinks It. ---- Pliney The Elder

Wine can of their wits the wise beguile,

Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --- Homer

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I'll put my two cents in.

I have a far better wine collection than most, but not all of my friends. If guests bring a wine that in my opinion will work with what I've planned, I will tend to serve it either in place of or alongside my planned wine. If not, I will simply set it aside for another time. When I'm invited over to a friend's house, depending on their level of interest and means I will either offer to bring a wine for dinner, as a gift or else bring something entirely different. Unless I'm bringing something particularly unique and special, I tend not to impose my selections for dinner or as a gift on my particularly wine-blessed friends.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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In the food section in this AM's Philly Inky (yeah, in Philly the food section appears on Thursdays), I read this

Wine Etiquette

and if you scroll down there's a ref to etiquette as host and as guest. There is even a quote from Craig (no, the other one) from Elements of Etiquette: "[A] host is never obliged to serve a gift of food or drink, and a guest is never justified in feeling slighted if his does not appear on the dinner table."

Edited by cinghiale (log)
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Sometimes a specific bottle (or two!) is agreed beforehand whether I'm host or guest but for the impromptu offering as a guest I have two approaches.

If I don't care whether my wine is served or not then I make it obvious by saying something like, "Here's one (or a couple) for your collection/cellar/rack/whatever" or similar.

If I would like the wine to be served that meal (not often, but it does happen) it's more the, "I've found something interesting I'd like to share with you, if you can fit it in" which still gives them the opportunity not to serve it if doesn't suit them, and if they don't then no problem. If I really, really wanted it I would agree beforehand (see para 1)

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  • 2 years later...

Here's a recent article in Hotel News Resource: Are You a Wine Fascist?

When you hand the bottle to him, he looks at the label; his eyes widen and he smiles. He thanks you profusely and immediately disappears with it down to his cellar as if the ambient temperature in his hallway might affect its health. And that is the last you will ever see of it.

There is only one way to deal with such a scoundrel. Decant the wine at home and carry it carefully to your destination. Tell your host that the wine needed at least two hours' breathing to open up so that everyone could enjoy it. If he frowns, tell him that the last time you brought a 1982 Mouton-Rothschild to a dinner party it turned out to be corked and you didn't want to suffer that embarrassment again.

:laugh::laugh:

_____________________

Mary Baker

Solid Communications

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There is nothing more torturous for a wine nut than to see great wine being guzzled by those who a) don't know what they're drinking and b) would rather have something else if they were offered the choice.

To wit (from a tasting note I posted a while ago):

1997 Clos Mogador, Priorat. I brought this wine because I knew there would be some geeks present. Little did I know that one woman would bogart a third of this bottle because it was the closest one to where she had parked her ass. And then with a good two ounces still in her glass, she topped it off with some loganberry wine (after the Clos Mogador had been emptied).

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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here are the "rules" by which I live:

1--any wine brought to a party, dinner party, whatever is a GIFT.

once I hand the bottle to my hosts it is THEIR WINE they may do whatever they want with it. I have given the wine out of gratitude for their hospitality. There are instances where I offer to provide wine for drinking for the evening and this is discussed when the invitation is proffered.

2--when I am the host I serve wine appropriate to the occasion--that is I serve a good quality wine no matter what-something I feel my guests will enjoy. Something that I will enjoy. I ALWAYS DRINK WHAT I SERVE MY GUESTS.

I never question the level of wine appreciation of my guests--if one of them wants to drop some ice cubes into the wine that is fine with me-no matter what the provenance of the wine is. Once I serve wine to my guests it is theirs to enjoy as they wish. The goal is always to have happy guests--how they achieve that happiness is of no consequence to me. And the level of enjoyment is up to them--not me.

A wine snob (or "fascists) is someone who sets him/her self up as an arbitor of taste and exercises a level of control over others.

In fact, serving guests an inferior wine while sneakily serving "the good stuff" to ones self (and any guests "deemed to be worthy") is as fascist (and communist) as it gets.

That is the peasants or workers get the wine they are deemed worthy of, while the "government commissars or dictator" get the best wine. (ironically the very wine the peasants have produced).

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JohnL's attitude is certainly the healthiest.

Some interesting experiences I've had...

Folks bring wine as a gift, open it themselves and drink it all.

Brought a couple of bottles of wine as a hostess gift to a gathering and they only served those two bottles. Hello! Empty glasses and bored guests! Do I have to break into your cellar?

Went to an Octoberfest party in Napa where guests were trying to outdo each other by bringing obscure and very expensive German Wines. Some brought whole cases. Man it was great to taste all those delicious wines; but, I felt kind of inadequate about the 6 pack and single bottle of (very nice!) Riesling I brought.

-Erik

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I am in full agreement with John on this.

Unless you have specifically arranged in advance with your host to supply wines for the dinner, the wine you bring with you is a gift and the host is under no obligation whatever to open or serve it on the evening it is given.

True, if your host decides that the wine is appropriate for the meal, it is perfectly in order for them to open it but that decision is theirs alone.

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