Q: At two separate parties, we had guests act in what I consider a rude manner. The first scenario was when friends arrived for a casual party. One of our guests brought a date, which was fine, but when my husband asked him if he'd like a beer, the man asked what beer labels we were offering. When my husband listed what we had on hand, the man turned up his nose and said he only drank craft beer. I considered that a insult to our taste and hospitality. What do you think?
The other scenario was when I offered wine to a guest upon her arrival. She asked what we were offering and I said, red or white. She asked if it was dry wine, and I said yes. She said she didn't usually like dry wine, but she'd try a small amount. After tasting it, she went on and on with faces and saying, "Ick, ick ick, ...oh, that's awful." (One ick would have been enough.) I appreciate that everyone has their preferences on what they like to drink, but how far does a host or hostess have to go to satisfy everyone's tastes?
A: In both situations, your guests were being rude. It is the hosts' call as to what they serve at their party. You aren't even obligated to offer wine and beer. You should choose what you offer based on your preferences and your budget. For a guest to arrive at your home, especially when he hadn't met you before, expecting unique beer that is probably higher priced than what you are offering is rude and pretentious.
The woman going on and on about her dislike for dry wine was over the top. One should never make a big fuss about their likes and dislikes in beverages or food in social situations. A simple, “That's a little dry for my taste,” would have been adequate.
So here are some tips on how to be a gracious guest:
* When responding to the invitation, ask the host or hostess if you can bring something to the party. If you like special beer or wine, offer to bring some to share. Do let the host know that you want to share it and make sure they are OK with it. You bringing high-priced wine and beer can also backfire, making the host feel inadequate about their offerings. There's a fine line there. If they decline your offer, respect their decision and drink what they have to offer or choose a soft drink or water instead.
* If you bring a beverage as a hostess gift, the host is not obligated to open it at the time of the party.
* When offered a drink, it's OK to ask, “What are you offering,” but don't get too particular. If you don't like what you have been served, don't make a big deal about it. Sip it and then move on to another beverage.
* If you do take wine and/or beer to share and all of it doesn't get consumed, leave what's left over with your host unless they insist on you taking it back home with you.
* As a host, when telling people what kind of wine you are offering, it is helpful to mention whether it is dry or sweet. Offering that up front will help your guest decide on what they want to drink.
Karen Hickman is a local certified etiquette/protocol consultant and owner of Professional Courtesy. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.