How to Wine and Dine (Part 1)

Impressing family, friends, and more-than-friends


Wining and dining -- it’s a phrase we use quite often to express that we’re out to impress. So, does it make sense to always follow the same path when we’re out to wine and dine someone? No, not really, because while the ends are always similar, the means of the proper wine and dine can differ significantly. So, a few ideas on the proper way to wine and dine your VIPs. Time to take a look, in the first of our two-part series, at the way to wine and dine everyone from a first date to their parents, and beyond.

To view part 2 of our How to Wine and Dine series, on impressing clients, co-workers and the Big Boss, go to How to Wine and Dine (Part 2).

Your parents

You owe your parents a lot, and sometimes you want to show them how much they mean to you and what a great job they’ve done raising you and instilling in you their values, so how do you wine and dine them? Well, carefully to start. This is a tricky situation, since you’ll want an easy escape should your values not turn out to be like your parents’!

Keep things simple, and quick. A nice bistro dinner that pairs with a nice bottle of Beaujolais or Mâconnais Blanc will show your parents that you know the finer things in life yet have remained intelligently frugal, and the bistro meal will give you the flexibility of an easy out should you not want to linger over your tarte tatin!

Your siblings

When dining with your siblings things can go several ways. You can either be a competitive bunch or a complementary bunch, though not necessarily full of compliments. If you’re competitive, go the geek route. (It’s never a good idea to start a spending war that can spiral out of control with your family!) Find the geekiest wine list in town and introduce your sibs to things like Ribeira Sacra and Rotgipfler, then lean back and enjoy the stunned silence. 

Alternately, if you guys are a complementary bunch, find the list with the best selection of affordable magnums and order up a few big bottles for yourselves. Sounds like your time will be better spent chatting than dealing with what wine to order. And besides, with such a happy-to-be-together group, indecision is likely to rule, so impress your sibs with your decisiveness! 

A first date

First dates are always tricky. Of course you want to make a great impression, but you have to be careful not to over-commit! You don’t want to blow your wad before you’re sure there’s going to be a date number 2, or 4, I’m just saying. Tapas bars and small-dish places are perfect for first dates. Between the small plates, and a great wine by the glass program, you can control the pace and the length of your meal. And if things are going well, any tapas bar worth its salt will have a fine selection of Sherry, with its 15% alcohol. A fine way to end a meal and segue into a cozier round 2!

Your Significant Other’s friends

So, things are going well and it’s time to meet your significant other’s friends – a real make-or-break event. The main rule here is to not come off as an ass. These folks have known your SO longer than you have and are going to be out to protect him or her from you, especially if they’ve gotten wind of that whole Sherry Incident. 

With your SO’s friends you need to impress upon them that you can take care of your SO without being a douche, so the key here is to order a variety of wines, something for everyone. You’ll have everyone thinking you were thinking of them when you ordered. Get ready for a hearty welcome from your new friends.

Your Significant Other’s parents

If you thought you had it tough with your SO’s friends, when it’s time to meet the parents all bets are off. OK, while intimidating, this is not as hard as it looks. Let them pick the place -- you don’t want to come off as trying to take their place in the life of your, and their, loved one. 

Order a wine off the list that is recognizable, safe, and above the median price point. That’s what you want them to think of you, right? You’re safe, somewhat familiar -- or at least not strange and funky -- and above average yet thoroughly attainable. A perfect fit for their son or daughter. Now, the big key here is to get up while dessert is being enjoyed and go pay the bill on the sly! That’s right, a bit of sophisticated class and when you later let it slip that the check has been taken care of, simply add that the parents have already given you so much simply by helping to bring such a wonderful being into your life. Swoosh! That is all net, baby! When’s the wedding?

Your Significant Other, sometime after the first date

Once you’ve settled into a happy, comfortable groove with your significant other, perhaps even gotten married, make sure to keep the relationship fresh. How, you ask? Well, expensive travel always works. Tropical cocktails on Maui’s wonderful beaches, for example, or a glass of Champagne in Florence watching the sun set over the Duomo. But we can’t always get away, so how about something exciting and closer to home?

Well, how about catering for dinner for two, either at home or at some romantic locale? Take a drive to the beach and have a table for two set with your favorite foods and, of course, a bottle of your favorite bubbly waiting on ice. Nothing says “let’s have some fun” more than a fine glass of sparkling wine, though a decent argument can be made for a bottle of Vodka straight from the fridge! For this evening though, where performance might be an issue, let’s stick with the suds!

How to Wine and Dine (Part 2)

To view part 2 of our How to Wine and Dine series, on impressing clients, co-workers and the Big Boss, go to How to Wine and Dine (Part 2).

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  • Snooth User: StevenBabb
    Hand of Snooth
    296258 488

    this was a fun read! i've taken part in all of the examples... and to great success i might add : )

    if i could add one thing that would apply to all situations: BE HUMBLE...
    no one likes a show off... make suggestions to the group, like you have an understanding of wine, and not necessarily like you KNOW whats best...

    on a first date, go to a wine bar... sit at the bar... and let the bartender take you through the list... have him pour some tastes... this will show your date that you are confident and comfortable with yourself, and it will score MAJOR points : )

    Nov 22, 2010 at 4:45 PM

  • Good article, But: Do the Snooth wine ads next to the article change with each viewer? I'm looking at a Snooth "Ideal for Holiday dinner" ad the recommends Beringer Pinot Noir! Reallllly???? Snooth has lost a LOT of credibility. You can find 100 Pinot Noirs in Oregon for that price that would be a far better pour. Try this one at just $24

    Nov 22, 2010 at 7:50 PM

  • Snooth User: erniex
    634476 60

    Good to know the great wines are for keeps... And nice siblings btw.-)

    Nov 23, 2010 at 3:54 AM

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