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Reader Christen asks, "If a guest brings a bottle of wine as a gift, is the
host/hostess supposed to open the bottle of wine for all the guests to enjoy,
or is it ok to save it?"
Excellent question, Christen! Technically, a host gift is just that: a gift. And the recipient is entitled to enjoy that gift however he or she likes. That said, a gracious host considers the gift and the giver when determining whether to open the bottle. And smart guests find a polite way to let the host know if they would like their gift enjoyed at a certain time.
If you're a guest who hopes to share the wine you've brought with the group, present it to the host with that suggestion: "I thought this could go well with the BBQ we're having." Or, if you don't want your gift to get lost among the other bottles on the wine table, let the host know: "This is something for you to enjoy another time."
As a host, you can prevent any post-party wine whining by asking your guests if their bottle was meant for the group. Something as simple as "Thanks so much for the wine. Should we open it tonight?" resolves the issue for both of you. Or if you don't want to open the bottle, let the guest know you appreciate the gift and look forward to enjoying it later.
A gesture that's always appreciated by guests when they bring you a special bottle? Suggesting you'll share the wine with them another time. The guest knows the gift was appreciated, you both have new, fun plans, and you both know you'll get to taste what they brought. Cheers to that!