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OK to drink wine when hosting Mormons?


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Some friends who are members of LDS are coming over for dinner tonight, and I plan to serve plenty of healthy, alcohol- and caffeine-free food and drink. However, we typically have wine with meals. I don't want to have wine on the table if it would be offensive, but conversely don't want to conspicuously abstain and make them feel like I'm doing it for them. I don't care what they think of the fact that I consume alcohol and caffeine, but I do care about their comfort, so no flames, please. Oh, and their two year old will be attending. Anyone have any experience with this odd etiquette situation?

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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Some friends who are members of LDS are coming over for dinner tonight, and I plan to serve plenty of healthy, alcohol- and caffeine-free food and drink. However, we typically have wine with meals. I don't want to have wine on the table if it would be offensive, but conversely don't want to conspicuously abstain and make them feel like I'm doing it for them. I don't care what they think of the fact that I consume alcohol and caffeine, but I do care about their comfort, so no flames, please. Oh, and their two year old will be attending. Anyone have any experience with this odd etiquette situation?

I would think this situation akin to hosting Muslims. I'd say don't do it unless they notice and say specifically that they aren't offended if you drink.

Pound a couple of shots before they get there. That ought to hold you until they leave and you can open up the wine... :biggrin:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I had a couple of guys meet me at a bar after work one evening. I thought something was up when I ordered a beer and they only ordered cokes. I said what's the deal guys? They said "were Mormons." I said that's cool, you're still picking up the tab, are'nt you? They said "sure." I don't think it's such a big deal with Mormons as it might be if you like served pork to a Muslim.

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Walt, how close are these friends? Going against Katie's recommendation, I would say that you shouldn't have to alter your standard practices. I think there is a huge difference between LDS and Muslims. Were I hosting Muslims, I might abstain, but I've dined with Mormons and simple tea-tottlers and they don't seem to be offended by consumption by others.

A similar argument would be made of coffee? Would you refrain from consuming coffee out of a similar fear of offense?

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A similar argument would be made of coffee? Would you refrain from consuming coffee out of a similar fear of offense?

Coffee! Now that gets to the heart of the argument, doesn't it? I can't imagine they would mind if we had coffee, even in front of their child.

I think I'll have my wine, then, since it doesn't really seem disrespectful to their beliefs that I believe differently. I'm sure I do a lot of other things that they wouldn't do, anyway.

Thanks everyone for your input. My meal thanks you!

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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We have some "temple recommend" LDS friends who have been over a few times. Alcohol was served at all of those meals, and they never had a problem with it. Unlike members of many other religions with dietary restrictions, who might be offended or religiously "tainted" to even be around you while you consume proscribed foods, I have not found this to be the case with Mormons and "mind altering substances" like caffeine and alcohol. I mean, I wouldn't bring a cup of coffee into an LDS church, and I wouldn't serve pork if some of my dinner guests were religious Muslims... but I wouldn't not offer coffee after a meal just because some of my guests were Mormon.

--

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I am a "Temple Recommend" Latter-Day Saint and I wouldn't have any problem eating at your house while you drank wine (btw what time is dinner?) For all of my friends at church, our dietary restrictions are intended to help us grow closer to the Lord, not make our friends with other beliefs uncomfortable. I imagine they might be just as concerned that they don't make you feel uncomfortable in your home, so they are probably right now talking to their child to explain how what we believe should never be used as a club against anyone else's behaviour. I am sure that if their child says something about it (you know how children are) they will be more concerned about your feelings. At least that's the position I have been in before...

My advise is: Enjoy your meal, enjoy your wine and most of all enjoy your friends! :biggrin:

Ellen

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I am not LDS, although I live in SLC, UT. I know from experience that it depends on the company. Whether or not they are hardcore mormons or not. I have a friend who's parents host many dinner parties, and even though they are against the consumption of alcohol will buy and distribute it at parties for drinking friends.

"Make me some mignardises, &*%$@!" -Mateo

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Recently I prepared dinner for some relatives and in-laws. The in-laws are Muslim, so I bought a kosher brisket (the nearest halal market was over an hour away and kosher was five minutes), which they were comfortable eating. I have eaten out with Jewish friends, and generally have abstained from pork during those meals out of respect for their faith. I grew up in a largely Mormon community, so what to serve at a community activity frequently caused this question to be asked. Generally, we would offer coffee, tea, and colas and make sure that non-caffeine drinks were available for those who prefer them (including my non-Mormon wife). One good friend who was a Mormon bishop, always asked where his cup was when a group was being served coffee. He always asked for a cup and spoon (kept empty) and stirred his empty cup while the rest of us were stirring our cream and/or sugar. To me it always seems a pleasant, even humorous, way to subtly make us aware of his beliefs without having to say a word.

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Are all your guests LDS members? Thus, would your family be the only ones imbibing?

As a gut response, I wouldn't do anything as a host to guests in my home that would in any way emphasize our differences. I believe hosting people means being responsible for their comfort and happiness.............I agree with Katie Loeb: Do shots before they arrive if you must have alcohol.

I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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Wow, there's a real range of opinions out there. I'm glad I asked. One one hand, we have a not one, but two descriptions of Mormons buying alcohol for non-Mormons, which honestly I would feel odd about accepting. On the other hand, there is the hostly duty (which I take quite seriously) to not make one's guests feel uncomfortable. Certainly, I can imagine some people I know who might be uncomfortable with any consumption of alcohol in their prescence, but I don't think that fits my friends (yes, it will be just the three of them for dinner). He knows about my love for wine, and at work functions has always only asked for caffeine-free beverages, rather than seeming upset that others imbibed. As far as I know, the prohibition against "strong drinks" is not as strong as the Jewish and Muslim prohibitions against unclean foods, no? That might explain why LDS folks are more lenient.

Ellen, thanks for your views; dinner is at 5:45, if you're in the neighborhood. Just call if you need directions. :biggrin:

Susan G, thanks for your perspective as well. I think you raise an interesting point about minimizing situations that make our guests aware of differences, especially strongly felt, irreconcilable differences. That's really what the taboo on discussion sex, politics, or religion is about, after all... I'm mostly a live-and-let-live kinda guy, and don't mind differences as long as they aren't forced upon me. However, the obligation of a host to prevent those differences from appearing is a question to ponder.

Walt

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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This is a great topic and I appreciate the responses that have been posted, however I've had to remove several posts that were probably well-intended wisecracks but were off-topic and ran the risk of being seen as disrespectful to the Mormon religion. Please refrain from such comments, and let's get back to the food-culture aspect of this, which is really quite interesting.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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I think the easiest thing to do would be to ask your guests if they minded or would feel uncomfortable. If they reply affirmatively don't do it.

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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This is a great topic and I appreciate the responses that have been posted, however I've had to remove several posts that were probably well-intended wisecracks but were off-topic and ran the risk of being seen as disrespectful to the Mormon religion. Please refrain from such comments, and let's get back to the food-culture aspect of this, which is really quite interesting.

I agree that this is interesting...

I'm a little surprised at the Lowest Common Denominator approach being advocated here, insofar as (IMHO) choices as to what to ingest are personal, and rational folks should be able to accept the personal choices of others in their presence as well as their own...

The pork/kosher issue is something of a canard in my experience, as those of my acquaintance who are so frum as to care about strict kashrut observance will inevitably decline invitations to my house, as a rabbi has never been within a mile of my kitchen, and it is a trayf-o-rama. Those who know this and still come know that kashrut is out the window.

I absolutely refuse to sink to the LCD, as amongst my regular guests is a vegan, and there's no way in hell I'm going to subject the whole of a dinner party to bunny pellets because of one guest.

Veganism and religion are in the same boat... personal choices that should remain unaffected by the behavior going on around them. If the religion insists on ritual purity going beyond the personal, then the observant will have to make the choice to subject themselves to other people's kitchens, or not.

Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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I think the easiest thing to do would be to ask your guests if they minded or would feel uncomfortable. If they reply affirmatively don't do it.

But in the role of guests, would they feel free to give an honest answer?

If I were a guest in someone's home, and the host asked if she could do something which I knew made me uncomfortable (say, lighting a joint: I have frequent drug tests for my work), I would figure, "A man's home is his castle" trumps my ability to impose as a guest.

But I would make a note to self to refuse future invitations to be a guest in this person's home.

I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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Mormons are not from outerspace (I know, I can't prove that) but in my lifelong experience with Mormons, when you have a meal, put out your different beverages, like so...ice water, grape juice, non-caffeine sodas, wine, iced tea, whatever, and your guests should make the transition easily for you.I've never had a Mormon lecture me about what I drank. It is merely what they do not.

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I have family who belong to the LDS church and rest of the family goes on with their business...the only way to stop this crowd from imbibing is to pry the alcohol from their cold, death fingers.....but from my personal pov, out of respect, I wouldnt recommend putting anything on the table what your *all* your guests wont touch.....even if some of your other guests arent mormons...its just the polite thing to do....but again..thats just me!

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Having met many people from religions whose adherents don't imbibe, I can say from my experience, in general, I've never met anybody who would be offended or made at all uncomfortable by others imbibing in the same room. So I tend to agree that it's just not a problem.

I think wnissen, just by starting this topic, has proven that he is a great host!

Now, just a quick reminder, we need to talk about food and related issues here, not about religion per se. I know there is overlap -- this is a food-religion-etiquette issue -- but it's a question of emphasis and focus. Here is a link to eGullet's policy on discussion of politics and religion. Let's all try to stick to it. Thanks for your help.

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=31878

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Well, I'm not sure (because I don't know too much about LDS, despite having had friends in the church when I was young -- who, by the way, drank Coke all the time), but if there is any useful analogy I was raised by Southern Baptist parents who were strict teetotalers because of their religious beliefs. Largely because of my dad's career, they were often guests at dinner in the homes of a greatly diverse set of people, many of whom, including my father's immediate and extended family (Episcopalians!), consumed alcohol in some form routinely in the course of a social meal. I don't think it would ever have occurred to either of my parents to expect their hosts to alter their usual behavior regarding alcohol (either the offering or the consumption of) because of my parents' own beliefs. Mom and Dad simply opted for whatever non-alcoholic beverage was most appealing.

Conversely, when my parents hosted dinner parties (either related to my father's career or any other kind), no alcoholic beverages were offered, though of course if someone brought their own, they were made to feel comfortable partaking thereof.

So Walt, what did you do and how did it go?

Cheers,

Squeat

Edit: Pronouns drift toward ambiguity when you're talking about multiple sets of people and the ways in which "they" interact.

Edited by Squeat Mungry (log)
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What you are now looking at is an experiment.

This topic, a very intelligently worded appeal from a valued member to his fellows for specific information, is a topic we, the eGullet management, would like to see in continued existance on our board.

However, despite repeated warnings from a moderator, Ellen, to stay focused on the food-related aspect of this topic... yesterday it didn't happen that way.

A whole barrel full of posts have been removed. Let me be clear that although they were removed in a single bunch, they weren't all removed in the same spirit.

Many of the posts were respectful, insightful, and tolerant. Others were not. What they all had in common was that after a careful analysis, they weren't even remotely about how to host a dinner party for Mormons. A bit of comparitive religious talk is fine, and we've left all of that if it involved FOOD, but we don't want or need detailed information about religious affiliations, practices, or subdivisions unless they are used to directly answer the question which has been asked.

So our experiment is to put this back, minus those posts, and try again. If the topic drifts again, it may not come back next time. As well intentioned as many of the posts were, they left the door open for less enlightened posts--which have ALSO been removed.

I hope that those people who wrote the respectful, insightful, and tolerant posts I referred to above understand our dilemma, and respect our decision. If not, please don't answer here--PM me, Ellen, or any of our Site Management staff.

Carry on, please. Thanks in advance for your understanding.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Some friends who are members of LDS are coming over for dinner tonight, and I plan to serve plenty of healthy, alcohol- and caffeine-free food and drink. However, we typically have wine with meals. I don't want to have wine on the table if it would be offensive, but conversely don't want to conspicuously abstain and make them feel like I'm doing it for them. I don't care what they think of the fact that I consume alcohol and caffeine, but I do care about their comfort, so no flames, please. Oh, and their two year old will be attending. Anyone have any experience with this odd etiquette situation?

This is an interesting question, partly because of what a wine guy you are.

I vote that you should have wine with your meal, but also offer a selection of non-alcoholic drinks for your guests. I don't think your Mormon friends will have any problem with you having a glass of wine (esp if they know your interest in wine), because like someone else said, they're not there to push their beliefs on you. They're there to have a good time with their friends, and as long as you give them some non-alcoholic choices, they'll get to enjoy the dinner along with everyone else.

I've found this true with everyone I know who has some sort of dietary limitation, but there could be exceptions.

--oh i guess i was late to the party. how did the dinner go?

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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Some friends who are members of LDS are coming over for dinner tonight, and I plan to serve plenty of healthy, alcohol- and caffeine-free food and drink. However, we typically have wine with meals. I don't want to have wine on the table if it would be offensive, but conversely don't want to conspicuously abstain and make them feel like I'm doing it for them. I don't care what they think of the fact that I consume alcohol and caffeine, but I do care about their comfort, so no flames, please. Oh, and their two year old will be attending. Anyone have any experience with this odd etiquette situation?

I think that FRIENDS is the key word here, not so much the LDS affiliation. Friends certainly would not mind if you had wine with your meals, while they had another type of beverage.

Since the party has since come and gone, I would be interested to hear how it turned out.

As a side note, a colleague and I entertained some clients last year in NYC. They are on the Finance Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. My colleague and I are not SB. We met them in our offices, then they departed to their hotels to freshen up for dinner and a play. We met them at a restaurant in NYC, and my colleague and I had arrived early and ordered a glass of wine each before our guests arrived. They arrived and ordered iced tea, but in no way made us feel uncomfortable for ordering wine. The play was another story.

One of our clients, after I offered to get tickets for them while they were in the Big Apple, requested to see The Producers. I had never seen it before, and neither had my colleague. We got great seats - fourth row or so - center. Into the first 20 minutes of the play I realized that it could be horribly offensive to them. The person who wanted to see the play saw that we were concerned, and leaned over to say to me "I'm having the time of my life, thanks so much for taking us here!"

It put me somewhat at ease, but I have to admit I did flinch at several points during the play.

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Thanks to the eGullet staff for bringing this back; I hope we'll stay on topic this time.

For everyone who has been wondering, dinner went great! I decided to serve wine, but after asking them if it would be OK. I swear, it may be just our friends, but they seemed far more uncomfortable that I had to ask than anything else. A good time was had by all. Their daughter did ask what the wine bottle was, and seemed satisfied with the answer of "That's wine. It's a beverage for adults." Then again, she also wanted to know what the olive oil was, and what the sparkling water was. She tried the sparkling water and liked it quite a bit, dubbing it "spicy water!" It was cute.

jschyun, I agree that a good selection of beverages is important so people don't feel left out. I tend to go overboard in this respect, actually. We had on hand: filtered water, sparkling water, herbal raspberry iced tea, Weinhard's Root Beer (no caffeine), pineapple juice, and 1% and fat free milk. I'm hoping they didn't feel deprived.

Walt

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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I am so glad you had a good time...that is the point to the conviviality and pleasure of hosting good company.

Every year my SO and I get invited to the Bishop's Christmas dinner, although they are aware we are not members. We go, partake in a wonderful evening, and thoroughly enjoy ourselves.

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A good time was had by all.

Congratulations! I had been wondering how your evening went.

I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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