"Merlot or cabernet? That is the question."
If you're heading to a wine night with your gal pals, be sure to contribute a bottle or two. Here's how to know what to bring:
Hit the right price point
While the wine you're bringing over is likely to be enjoyed by you (but not necessarily...remember, the wine is a gift to say "thank you" for the meal, so if it's not opened, don't go away grumpy), you never want to cheap out on your host. Think about what the host is likely spending to treat you to dinner. Bring a bottle of wine that hits this price point and also matches the occasion. A simple dinner-among-friends does not warrant the same amount of extravagance as a celebratory dinner for a promotion or engagement. $10-20 per bottle is a respectable range, but don't be afraid to go a little under if one of your favorite bottles is on sale, or a little over if it's a very special occasion.
Consider the host's tastes
If your host HATES reds, don't bring a Merlot, even though it's your favorite. That's just rude.
Not sure what they like or don't like?
Check out this tip from Cooking Light--match the wine to the host's personality! Click here to read more.
Have they traveled recently? Bring a bottle from the region or country they vacationed in recently.
Ask what's for dinner
Are they serving fish? Try a rich white, like a Chardonnay. Shellfish? Try a light Pinot Noir instead.
Chicken or Pork? Try an oaked white for a lighter dish, or something like a Sangiovese or Tempranillo for a richer, heavier dish.
Beef? Go big with a Cab Sav or classic with a Merlot.
When in doubt, Champagne goes with everything.
Don't bring one of their standbys
It's great that you know your friend that well, but if you pick up something that they can grab on their weekly supermarket run, it feels a little less thoughtful and special.
When in doubt, bring something you love...
And come with a story about it. Making a gift personal makes it way more special. Plus, your host might be more willing to share it with you, since they know how special it is to you. ;)
...or bring something new and exciting.
Whether you're a wine expert or novice, there's nothing wrong about asking your local wine store clerk for a recommendation. It's a great way to expand your taste buds' horizons.
Check out this article for more tips on buying a great bottle of wine.
Make sure to bring enough
If your host asked you to bring wine (after, of course, you asked what you could bring), make sure to bring enough for the meal. If you and your gal pal can polish off two bottles without blinking, bringing just one bottle isn't going to cut it.
Now go out there, and be the best dinner guest you can be!
SHARE and spread the word--bad wine ain't gonna cut it.