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Dinner Party and Wine Etiquette 101: What to Bring as a Guest and Prepare for as a Host







Group of friends enjoying wine at an outdoor dinner party

When it comes to parties, hosting, and drinking (or not drinking), what is considered polite, and what is not, can change greatly based on the situation of the invitation and even the phase of life you’re in. This often results in confusion and wandering aimlessly around the wine store asking, to bring or not to bring.

After a debate amongst our team of the do’s and don’t do’s, we’ve gathered together your rule of thumb guide to drinks: both as a host and a guest. Read below to ensure you are the hostess with the mostess and a guest who gets invited back over and over again.


Friends eating dinner outside enjoying wine and cocktails

Should You Bring a Bottle of Wine to a Dinner Party?

In short, the answer is nearly always yes. Hosting a gathering is a lot of work and let's be honest, it isn't cheap either. It's polite to bring a bottle of of wine as a thank you to the host. The only exceptions to this rule is if you don't consume alcohol, in which case, you should still bring a gift for the host. Gourmet chocolates or a bouquet of flowers make for a lovely contribution.

How Much Should You Spend and What Type of Wine Should You Bring?

When it comes to what wine to bring, a simple rule reigns supreme: bring something your host will appreciate. If your hosts enjoy red, bring that. If they enjoy bubbles, a bottle of Prosecco is lovely. How much you should spend on a bottle of wine often depends on the hosts and the type of party. If it's a backyard BBQ, a bottle in the range of $15 - $20 is perfectly fine. Find a wine that pairs nicely with the theme, perhaps a Zinfandel. If your guests are hosting an elegant multi-course seafood menu, a bottle around $25 is great. Again, it's thoughtful to bring wine that typically pairs well with the dinner party theme. Knowing your host and the audience is really important here though. Buying a more expensive bottle of wine can either be appreciated or awkward.

Should You Bring One Bottle of Wine or Two?

This is a tricky question. If you've been invited for a dinner party, it's likely the host has already purchased wine for the party. The general rule is be a gracious guest and consider what you will likely consume. If you think you'll have a glass or two, one bottle is perfectly fine. But if you and your partner are going to have a fun night out and think you'll be closer to a bottle each (let the good times roll!), it's polite to bring one bottle for the host, and an additional bottle that may be more appropriate to open at the dinner party if your host so chooses. It's a thoughtful gesture that ensures there's always enough wine to keep the good times going.

Should You Expect Your Host to Serve Your Wine?

This is one of the trickier questions and can be frustrating for real wine lovers. It's always best practice to bring a bottle of wine as a gift, but as a guest you should never expect this bottle to be opened during the party. Your wine is considered a host gift and thank you for the invite.

That said, if you're a wine enthusiast and have a specific wine in mind that you'd like to drink, it's perfectly acceptable to ask your host if it fits with their menu or preferences. Keep in mind, they may say everything is taken care of, in which case, expect to drink what they've purchased.

If the host welcomes your invitation know, that $60 bottle of Bordeaux you brought may not be opened, and if it is, expect it will be shared with everyone. Keeping that in mind, if it's a dinner party of 8 and you'd like to drink a heavier pour of the wine, you should also consider bringing enough for the group. In that example, that means bringing two bottles.


Friends clinking glasses of red wine at a dinner party

How Much Wine to Expect to Serve

If you find yourself hosting, a good guideline is to ensure there's enough (and more) wine to go around. The last thing you want is to run out of wine at a good party, so buy a bit more than you expect and know some of your selection may be saved for a later date.

Next, consider the way your party will work. Generally, you should expect everyone has a welcome drink as they get settled. A general standard is to have at least two glasses per person for a typical dinner party lasting 2-3 hours. So, think about it as a glass of wine per guests every hour.

A bottle of wine has 5 5oz glasses in it, however modern wine glasses tend to be very large, so you may find your pours are extra heavy as a result. By traditional math, a dinner party for 10 means you should have 5 bottles on hand. For the dinner parties we've hosted, that number is really low.

Here is what we consider a safe standard for people who enjoy some adult bevies with their dinner. This of course can vary, depending on the type of party you are having and your generosity as a host.

General guidelines for how much wine to buy for a 2-3 hour dinner party:

4 people eating - 4 bottles

6 people eating - 5 bottles

10 people eating - 8 bottles

12 people eating - 10 bottles

15 people eating - 13 bottles

20 people eating - 18 bottles

25 people eating - 22 bottles