Wine is an almost universally-appreciated gift, and it’s easy to give – whether you’re attending a dinner party, buying for someone who’s notoriously difficult to buy for, or have been tasked with shopping for someone you don’t know very well, it’s hard to go wrong with a good bottle. But despite the versatility of wine as a gift, there are still a number of things to consider when it comes to the actual act of handing it over. These guidelines will help you avoid an etiquette faux pas.
1. Make sure wine is an appropriate gift in the first place
Wine is usually a sure-fire winner – as long as the recipients actually drinks wine (or alcohol at all, for that matter). While this information might be tricky to ascertain if, for example, you’ve drawn the name of someone you don’t know for the office Secret Santa, it’s important to do your research if you’re unsure. Giving someone the gift of alcohol could be considered quite rude by someone who’s teetotal, or if it’s commonly known among your social circle that so-and-so only drinks red, or prefers spirits, then giving an alternative may seem thoughtless.
2. Do away with your expectations
Whether you give wine specifically as a gift, or simply bring a bottle along to a dinner party, accept that it’s not up to you what happens to it once you arrive. Some party hosts might pop the cork straight away, while others may squirrel your bottle away for another time. Never put pressure on your host to open the wine you’ve brought.
3. Gift tags can clear up any confusion
While it’s ultimately up to the host what they choose to do with your gift, if you’d rather they kept it separate from the immediate revelries you can help mitigate confusion with a gift tag explaining that it’s meant just for them. If they choose to open it, that’s fair enough, but it means they won’t have to worry about offending you should they choose not to.
4. Take it or leave it?
First and foremost, if a bottle has been opened, leave it behind when you leave – no question. If it’s not been opened, though, and you didn’t give it as a gift per se but rather brought it along as par for the course, the etiquette gets a little murkier. Many schools of thought say that you should leave it no matter what, and to even consider taking it home would be unbelievably rude. However, it really depends on your relationship with the person in question. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable asking to take it, then don’t.
With close friends, however, you might ask, “Shall I leave the wine?” and then gauge their reaction. They might say something like, “Oh no, please take it, we won’t drink it,” or “We’ve got so much leftover, please take it with you,” so you can skip off into the night with your bottle guilt-free. If they answer with something ambiguous such as “It’s up to you” or “I don’t mind,” then leave it without further discussion.
5. Choose your wine carefully
If you’re heading to a dinner party where guests are bringing along wine because it’s simply the done thing, then you can get away with buying a decent £10+ from the supermarket. If, however, your wine is being given as a particular gift, then you should spend some time selecting something that’s not obviously mass-produced. Visit a specialist bottle shop and ask someone for assistance in picking out something a little bit more exclusive.