I'm no sommelier but I enjoy wine and usually have a small population of bottles coming and going. My wife and I like to throw dinner parties and the occasional large celebration. We have extraordinary friends that usually contribute a bottle of nice wine when they are invited over. Each of our friends deserves to be honored and in an ideal world we'd sit down and savor each gifted bottle of wine. But the reality is that we like to bring wine to other people's parties too, and quite often we just grab something that looks good from our collection. My concern is that we may, at some point or another, re-gift a bottle of wine back to the same person who once brought it to our home (or maybe we already have!), which would seem inconsiderate. I've thought about keeping some tags in the kitchen to label where each bottle of wine came from, but given that our wines are out in the open, the tags could seem a bit tacky.
What would Alix do?
Wino with a Conscience
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Dear Wino with a Conscience,
The good new is that if you have already return-gifted, I'm sure the recipient assumed that the two of you shared the same excellent taste in wine. First and foremost, though, I applaud the question. I'm so glad to hear that I'm not the only one who thinks about this! (Anyone else, or is it just me and Wino, folks?) I've spent some time pondering this question for myself, and finally came up with a very low-tech system: sticky notes. Keep a pad handy and at the end of the night, label any of the wine your friends brought that remains unconsumed. I recommend writing the name of the bearer and the date, and sticking the note to the underside of the bottle where it rests on the shelf. Out of view when others gaze longingly at your wine collection, but not so well hidden that when you pull the bottle out to bring to another party you'll hand it over with the note still attached. It's for that reason that I don't suggest putting the note on the bottom of the bottle, which could make for a, um, sticky situation.