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5 Tips on wine etiquette for dinner parties

Here are 5 tips on wine etiquette for dinner parties. If someone has been kind enough to invite you dinner you should reciprocate the invitation by putting a little effort in selecting the wine.  You will want to drink something decent and hopefully avoid the scene where host serves a wine that is just not good.  What do you say? Give your true opinion or lie? Probably avoid telling the truth. ‘It’s not bad’, when you are thinking, ‘it’s not bad, it’s awful’.

So when choosing which wine to bring to a dinner you may find it useful to bear in mind the following suggestions:

1. Find out what is on the menu.

When calling to confirm that that your are going. With this in mind you can then decide which wine to bring along.

2. Find out who else is going to the dinner party.

Are they into wine, in which case bring something a little more sophisticated, if not go with a wine that is pleasant and easy drinking.

3. Don’t bring something too esoteric or obviously expensive.

It won’t be appreciate and you will not look good.  You don’t have to spend too much to find really good wines perfect for sharing.

4. Do you take the wine as a gift or to be enjoyed during the evening?

Always think of the wine you bring as a gift. However, it can be frustrating when the host decides to keep your wine you wanted to drink.  So, from experience, in order not to leave having not enjoyed your preferred choice of wine, take two bottles.  One for the host and the one you want to drink for the meal.  They don’t have to be the same wine but everyone is happy. Perfect diplomacy!

5. It is not easy to remember the names of wines

Even a bottle that you had and enjoyed the previous weekend, so I suggest that to begin familiarise yourself with a couple of regions and names that are readily available.

A refreshing white wine such as a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand usually works well, especially here in Spain where most people are not familiar, although they may have had a Sauvignon Blanc from Rueda.  Alternatively a young Chenin Blanc from South Africa is usually a crowd pleaser being crisp and fruity.

A smooth red with ripe fruit character, well balanced, a good structure and character.  Sounds easy enough but which wines fit the bill?  I would suggest a Shiraz from South Australia, a Malbec from Mendoza in Argentina or closer to home in here in Spain, a Garnacha from Campo de Borja.

As a sparkling wine, a well made Prosecco from Italy, is always a winner.  Fresh, floral and perfumed aromas, very easy to drink with a grape taste and soft bubbles.  Again, not that expensive and an ideal drink as an aperitif or later in the lunch or dinner.

Sweet Wines are often overlooked.   A good sweet wine can really lift a dessert and have all the guests talking.  A late harvest Muscat from Chile, or a Sauterne from AOC Barsac will work wonders.

Do you have any favourite wines to bring to dinner parties?

Written by

I am a Northern Irishman based in Valencia. My career in wine began more than three decades ago, in London. I am the founder of TheWinePlace.es, an online store, where wine enthusiasts can enjoy a selection of international wines and Verde Marte, a company dedicated to exporting Spanish wines. Also, Thewineplace.courses, an "approved program provider" of the courses of the prestigious WSET. I share my passion for wines through my media work writing weekly columns for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo and 5 Barricas, an online wine magazine.

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