The world of wine is rife with arcane ritual, invented when the elite took over what was otherwise a fun way for the peasants to get their daily antioxidants. In the modern home, wine etiquette has eased considerably. Considering the state of the world, anyone who dings you for passing the Port to your right needs a reality check. Even so, good manners help us all get along, and isn’t the best thing about wine the pleasure in sharing it?
BRING IT ON&emdash;Nothing irks a wine lover more than bringing a treasured bottle to dinner, only to watch the host or hostess tuck it away to savor at a future date without you. The angel on your shoulder says, “It’s a gift. Just let it go!” But the thirsty devil in you pitches a fit. A good ruse: Bring two bottles of wine. Tell your hostess, “Here’s a special bottle for you and Joe to enjoy later; the other is for us to pop tonight, if that’s all right.”
ON THE RECEIVING END:
HOW TO BE A GRACIOUS HOST
1 If a guest shows up with a bottle of wine, express your delight regardless of the contents. As host, it is your choice whether to save it or serve it.
2 No clue as to whether the wine would be divine or needs 10 dark years at the bottom of your closet? Simply ask the giver his intentions and follow them.
3 If the wine won’t work with what you’re serving, you’re within your hostly rights to put it away for another time. Hint: Place a note with the giver’s name on the bottle before you stash it, then pull the wine out to enjoy with the giver at a later date. The note also will help you avoid awkward regifting.
4 Consider opening a misfit wine before dinner. Put the giver in charge of serving it during cocktails so he gets props for his generosity.
DON’T CRY OVER A SPILT WINE&emdash; A guest spills red wine all over your grandmother’s priceless embroidered tablecloth. What to do? Slap on smile, grab the Wine Away stain remover and spray. Give the poor klutz an honorable discharge, such as “Oh, I’ve done that dozens of times! Would you take this tray into the kitchen for me?” Resist the urge to change and reset the table. It can wait, honest, and you’ve got party priorities.
*Elaine’s Pick of the Month
Remembering my own past gaffes makes me blush, so here’s the perfect dry, crisp rosÃ‚’ to start off your summer: Enjoy the juicy strawberry and rose-petal aromas of the 2005 KELSON CREEK ROUGE BLANC SYRAH AMADOR COUNTY ($12, kelsoncreekwinery.com). know thyself If stains and broken stemware send you into orbit, then keep the linens and crystal in the armoire, and serve Prosecco in sturdy little tumblers.
For the rest of this article, pick up a copy of Sacramento Magazine’s May issue.