The Host Gift, Some Etiquette.

So, you’ve been invited to dinner. What to bring as a thank you to your host? Wine makes the perfect host gift. Here are some tips to help you avoid disappointment or embarrassment.

A host gift is just that. It belongs to the host no matter how much you want to drink that bottle. It’s very likely that your host may have specifically paired wines with the meal. If you are set on drinking something you brought, arrive with a chilled Prosecco or Champagne which might signal the host you’d like a little pre-dinner bubbly, though it could also be saved to go with the dessert course. No, you don’t get to take it home if it doesn’t get opened.

There is no reason to break the bank when buying a host bottle. Even if your hosts are connoisseurs who collect $50-plus wines, there are plenty of wines in the $15 to $30 range that won’t embarrass you. There are many Pinot Noirs (always a safe bet for a red wine) along with heavier Bordeaux wines in the medium price range. Just remember that it’s tacky to brag about the price.

If your host asks you to bring wine, the more the merrier. Consider bringing two or even three bottles. By having several bottles open at the same time, you can educate yourself on wine/food pairing to see what works and what doesn’t. The fun of being asked to bring wine is that you know you’ll get to try what you brought.

Not sure what wine to bring? In addition to the wines mentioned above, a Pinot Grigio (dry, crisp white) or an un-oaked Chardonnay are good choices. Or think about dessert with a Late Bottled Vintage Port or ice wine. When in doubt, ask your wine merchant for help, that’s what we are here for.

The true test of a host gift is a bottle (or two) that you would be happy to drink yourself.

Whatever you decide to bring, it’s always nice to put a little effort into presentation with a simple (or fancy) wine bag. Follow this advice and the dinner invitations will flow.

Madrona Wine Merchants offers free wine tastings featuring 4-5 selections on a theme every Saturday from 2 until the bottles run out and on Sunday we offer a mini-tasting of two wines all day from 11-5.

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