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Do we bring wine to dinner if our hosts are abstaining?

The question

We will be dining with an abstaining couple on New Year's Eve. Do we bring wine for ourselves? Help.

The answer

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Oh yes you do, my friend, unless you have reason to suspect the couple in question would be offended on religious grounds.

It's best to call ahead if you are in doubt regarding the religion issue. Some people don't want alcohol in their homes, period, and homes are sacrosanct. But if it's just a case of people who prefer not to imbibe, you are entitled to honour their meal by enjoying it to the fullest, and if that to you means savouring it with pinot noir or chardonnay, take wine and mumble something to that effect. "We hope it's okay we brought this to enjoy with your meal. We love to have great food with some wine."

The key, though, is to be circumspect around the bottle (or bottles) you bring. Keep the effusive wine-geek comments to a minimum. Non-drinkers will never understand the appeal, and wine talk will drive them into a coma. And be kind if they trot out tumblers instead of Riedel Sommelier series stemware. One more thing: Bring a corkscrew just in case they don't have one; much better to leave the wine at home than to suffer through a meal in plain sight of an uncorked bottle.

For those dining at a restaurant under similar circumstances, make sure to kick in for the full cost of the wine when the check comes. If there's one thing non-drinkers resent more than the presence of alcohol, it's having to pay for it.

E-mail your wine and spirits questions to Beppi Crosariol. Look for answers to select questions to appear in the Wine & Spirits newsletter and on The Globe and Mail website.

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