Scenario 1: One evening, you’re dining with a group of people. You’re new to the group. When toasts are being made you notice that upon the first toast and subsequent toasts, eye contact is never made. Most often people make the mistake of either looking to the next person in line, looking at their wine glass or eye-balling the food on the table when they toast each other.
Tip: Don’t ever do this unless your culture prohibits making eye contact with another. When you are in a group toast, where glasses are touched together, always look the person you are toasting in the eye. To me, this really is a sign of your character. Looking someone in the eye shows them that you are interested in them, they are worth your time, that you wish them well, and most importantly, that their presence at the gathering is meaningful to you.
Scenario 2: You’re invited to a friends house for dinner. You bring a bottle of wine and a portion of the meal. After dinner, you notice that others at the table are out of wine and you ask the hostess who is seated between you and the newly opened bottle if you all could all have some more. She reaches for the bottle and serves herself before serving the rest of you.
Tip: Don’t ever do this. This is an act of self importance and your guests will not only notice, but be very disenchanted with you. This action tells your guests that you are miserly and piggish. Proper etiquette is to serve others before serving yourself, starting with the person that requested it and going in order, serving yourself last.
Scenario 3: You’re dining in a restaurant with a friend. You order a bottle of wine to share. Upon giving a toast to your lasting friendship, your glasses meet and you take a sip of wine. Without putting the glass to their lips, they set the wine glass down on the table.
Tip: Don’t ever do this. To be a part of a toast, or what is more, to be toasted, is an absolute honor. A toast is an expression of high regard. The fact that someone takes the time and has the inclination to thoughtfully recognize a person or a moment is an honor worth listening to and engaging in appropriately. To participate in the toast and not to sip, or what’s worse, set your glass back down on the table without completing the toast with a sip is an act of flagrant disregard. Pay attention and be a good listener. And for heaven’s sake, keep focused on the conversation and make eye contact through the touching of the glasses.
Scenario 4: You’re invited to a dinner party and bring a bottle of wine for the hostess. Your friend did the same. Your bottles of wine were never opened. When you leave, your friend takes her bottle of wine home with her.
Tip: It really isn’t good etiquette to do this. The bottle of wine is a hostess gift regardless if it was opened or not. It is understandable that you would want to bring a bottle of wine that you enjoy and that you would like to have with the meal, however, you need to be prepared to leave it there, even if the hostess never opens it and it becomes a part of their wine collection. Conversely, if you are the hostess and your guests bring wine to your home, please do open it and include it as part of your meal. People love to wine taste, even if it is at a dinner party. Do open them unless someone shares with you that their gift of wine if especially for you for a later time.
Be thoughtful with your toasts and thoughtful to receiving them. Your experience will be richer because of it.