Wine-loving friends usually arrive at a party bearing a gift bottle of wine. Should a host open a gift bottle of wine and serve it right away, or serve the wines that were selected for the dinner and save the gift wines for later?
This depends on several things—the wine, the occasion and the gift-bearing guest. If it’s a formal meal, the host has probably (we hope) selected wines that are meant to complement the dishes to be served. In this case the gift wines could be put away for later. If, however, the guest has brought a very special, or rare, wine, he may want to share it with his host. He may be quite offended if the host simply sets it aside and serves other wines. Honesty and openness, as always, are the best tactics. When the guest presents the bottle, simply say: “This is great. Should we open it right away, or are you happy to go with my selection?” If your wines have been chosen with particular care, you may say, “This is great. I’ll save it for a special occasion. I’m trying out some food and wine combinations this evening. I hope they come up to the standard of your wine.”
As always, don’t fuss about it. Relax and enjoy whatever wine you decide to drink. Worrying about protocol is so outdated.