Alice, When Guests Bring Wine, Should I Open It or Save It?

updated May 3, 2019
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Dear Alice,

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When someone brings wine to a dinner party do you offer to open it up right away or is it considered a gift? I have some close friends that come over and we usually open it because they know we don’t know much about wine. But recently we had some new friends over and they did not tell us either way. I just want to be a good host. Thank you!

Want to do the Right Thing

Dear Right Thing,

Most of us have been on both sides of this question, as a host and as a guest. Technically, wine brought to a party is a gift and the hosts can open and enjoy it whenever they damn please. But, unless there are already plenty of open bottles, I do think it’s nice to open and enjoy together.

In the social circles I travel in, I have always considered wine I bring to a dinner party or party-party as a contribution as much as a gift. Throwing a shin-dig can be expensive; liquoring up all your friends can be expensive. So, to my mind, bringing a bottle of wine is a way of saying “thanks for doing all this work and spending money on me — maybe this is one less bottle of wine you have to buy.” But, still, I don’t have the expectation that it will be opened that night if the host doesn’t need to. As the host, I do tend to prioritize opening wine brought by others because I know it will make them feel good.

Bottom line: you’re not wrong either way, but I think it’s a bit nicer to open it.


Readers – do you have strong feelings about how to handle wine brought to a party?

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