Wine Etiquette at Dinner

Wine Etiquette at Dinner
Whether you are dining at a home or a restaurant, the desired outcome for the evening is people and conversation – not wine. Sure wine can be on the menu. And it certainly can enhance both the food and an evening in general. There is, however, more to life than oaky flavors and top notes. Unless you’re participating in a wine club with these people at this particular dinner party, your expertise needs to be kept on the back burner.

For the self-proclaimed wine snob (or maybe that’s a term used behind your back), wine does add to an evening. But unless you are in Napa for a weekend or tasting at a winery, it’s not necessary to swirl the wine for color and comment on its legs. Nor is it acceptable to stick your entire nose into the glass and inhale deeply. Sure the guy at the winery showed you the proper way to inhale the wine in order to track down all components of the bottle. Performing acts like this in pubic, among friends, however, elevates your knowledge from snobbery to total geekdom.

When couples dine out with a few friends it’s a time for conversation. At this event you are not the wine connoisseur and you are not judging a wine. You are dining out with friends. We all get together to catch up on the happening in each other’s lives. We crave laughter, companionship and a friendly ear. Our hope is that dinner will be sumptuous, drinks will enhance our food and conversation will drizzle over the entire evening. This is the desired outcome of the evening. So remind yourself you are not contemplating purchasing a case of this particular wine. You aren’t even bringing home a bottle for yourself. You are sitting at a table eating dinner. The wine is an accessory, not the main course.

Let’s bring you back to the dinner table and reintroduce you to your surroundings. Finding out about the new puppy of the person next to you is acceptable. Laughing at a friends’ crazy day is encouraged. Commenting on how well the wine brings out the flavor of the lamb (or chicken or cheese, etc.) is fine. But commenting on how poorly the berries are in the wine and how it hurts the color or what the scent of the top notes are, borders on nerd-dom. It causes you to sound like a wine nut wanna-be. So suppress your desire to slosh the wine in your mouth on that initial taste and consider your companions. You are out to visit with your friends. When you all take off for that weekend in Wine Country then tout your expertise. Until then look around the table and smile. Enjoy the company of the people and don’t fret the wine. Kate Spade's book "Occasions" is a great read with many points directed at being a guest and hosting too.

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