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I need a drink
June 14, 2013 8:58 PM   Subscribe

I'm really embarrassed to be asking this question but apparently I've been embarrassing my husband with cheap wine. I don't know whose wrong here, so I'm asking you.

Necessary context: my husband is getting his doctorate, and all of the other people & parties in question are grad school students at his university.

Last night what I thought was going to be a nice night turned into a huge argument between myself and my husband.

The trader joe's in our area has a good selection of wines in the 4/5/6/7 dollar range, usually a couple organic ones too. I'm a sucker for those low priced organic wines, I think they taste really nice, and I always have a few bottles in the house.

When we've been invited to parties over the past year or so by other students and sometimes the faculty, I've more than once brought one of these wines to a party just as a host gift.

Now I've found out this has been a huge source of shame for my husband who is convinced that other people in his department see us as 'cheap' or 'doing the minimum.' Apparently he has overheard conversations between the other students in his department trashing not specifically us, but the wine and the kind of people who drink the wine I might bring to a party. A lot of these same people spend a lot of time seeking out wine tastings and visits to wineries are *very* into knowing everything about wine and talking lots about it.

My husband says that according to the other students whose parties we are attending, anything less than fifteen dollars a bottle is trash/embarrassing.

As you may have guessed, it's gone beyond the wine now, and at this point I am pretty much soured on all of these people and could care less to attend these parties with him in the future. But I'm allowing for the possibility that I may be totally off base here about how embarrassing I am and I just need an attitude adjustment by the hive mind.

My perspective: The wine I bring is stuff that I think is nice even if it's not expensive. I don't pretend to be some important wine snob who can taste what year some bottle is from. When I host parties at my place, I NEVER expect anyone to bring ANYTHING and if anyone does it's just a pleasant surprise, and I would never think of judging someone for bringing something I don't personally like. If guest in my house brought a bottle of two buck chuck with a bow on it, I would receive it warmly and extend sincere thanks. We're all just students here, is this really necessary?

My husband's perspective: We look cheap and are embarrassing when we bring the wine I've been bringing. Since unlike him, I grew up in a rich family, I just don't care about looking cheap since I “already know what class I am." (Which is true about where I grew up, but in my mind quite irrelevant since I'm not on my parent's dole anymore and we and all these people have pretty much the exact same income!)

I’m not asking whether we should bring the fifteen dollar wine or not, that’s exactly what he’ll be doing when he goes to these parties by himself in the future which is fine with me
.

But I do want to know if I really have been out of line in the past.
Please tell me, am I the embarrassing one?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (93 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm confused...since the partygoers and party-givers are your husband's colleagues, why has has it fallen to you to bring a housewarming present?
posted by BostonTerrier at 9:05 PM on June 14, 2013 [72 favorites]


Honestly, I think you're both right. The fellow party-goers are terribly rude and snobby for being judgmental about the wine. And a host should be gracious whether a guest brings a nice or not-so-nice bottle of wine, or nothing at all.

However, the wine you are bringing costs not that much more than a bottle of soda. I personally would definitely want to bring something more expensive. The host has spent time, money and effort preparing for this party, and I think that deserves a nice-ish bottle of wine somewhere in the $12-20 range.
posted by imalaowai at 9:06 PM on June 14, 2013 [40 favorites]


My father is a guy who hosts a lot of fancy parties, gourmet group type stuff, the kind where he's cooking out of Julia Child all day and there are terrines and mousselines and forcemeats and spatchcocked duck and placecards and soup courses and things. He has a lot of good wine at these events -- sometimes wine that cost fifty, sixty, a hundred dollars a bottle.

You know what else he always has? His latest attempt at finding the perfect six dollar merlot. He'll break it out at some point in the evening, pour it round, and then as everyone is complementing the legs or the fruit or whatever, he'll crow "SIX DOLLARS! What do you think, is it a keeper?!" It's gotten to the point where other people will also bring 5/6/7 dollar wine, deliberately, price still on it, so they can compare it to the fancier stuff and discover some serious gems.

My father, let me promise you, is not cheap, nor is he embarrassing. He's also a Ph.D. and is usually socializing with other people from his university. What he is is a great host who loves wine, and who is always looking for a good one that won't break the bank. Your husband is out of line in a big way, imho.
posted by KathrynT at 9:07 PM on June 14, 2013 [92 favorites]


You're proper adults, not undergrads, so I don't think a $7 or under bottle of wine is an appropriate hostess gift any longer, no. There is a vast range of gracious wine between Trader Joe's bargain bin organics and "some important wine snob."
posted by DarlingBri at 9:08 PM on June 14, 2013 [19 favorites]


I think if your husband isn't happy with the price of the wine you're buying he can go buy it himself. I also think it's in atrocious taste for other people to snicker behind people's back about it and you rightly are offended and hurt.

That being said a hostest gift of wine is generally a bit pricier than what you would drink as every day wine. I might bring a $5 bottle from trader joes over to a close friend's to drink while we watch Game of Thrones, but I would bring something in the $10-20 range to a more formal occasion. Probably closer to $20.

So yeah they are total assholes, your husband is being a bit of a jerk, but your choice of wine for a hostest gift is a little out of step with the norm. However whenever I host a party I usually get 2-3 bottles of trader Joel's $4 chuck and never think twice about it and everyone seems perfectly happy to drink it.
posted by whoaali at 9:09 PM on June 14, 2013 [30 favorites]


I can really see it going either way, but if we changed things around a little bit, if someone brought a 6 pack of bud light to a dinner party at our house, it would be a little strange, and while we wouldn't look down on them for doing so, it would probably not be touched, and sent back home with them at the end of the night. Now, if it were a BBQ in the summer time, that beer would probably be consumed in the hour, possibly by some of the same people who would turn their noses up to it at a dinner party.

Should you feel ashamed of what you did? No. Were you the cause of embarrassment? Possibly. How other people react to what you do is something you can't change, so if this is a group of people who is passionate about their wine, they very well may react negatively to your offering. That doesn't mean they are right, but it does mean that if you want them to think highly of what you guys bring, you will need to bring nicer bottles of wine, or bring something different (a pleasant fruit tart, or maybe some nice cheese?).

You can't change how other people will react, so whether you like it or not, this is a situation where you'll be better off just going with it, knowing that you won't have to deal with these people in the future after school is over.
posted by markblasco at 9:09 PM on June 14, 2013


I drink $5 wine frequently, but I would bring a $10+ wine to a party, it seems more polite. However, if someone brought a $5 bottle to my place, I wouldn't care.

The real problem here is the communication between you & your husband though. This whole problem could have been avoided if he had politely and gently told you that he feels more comfortable bringing a slightly more expensive bottle (without attacking you or calling the cheaper bottles embarrassing!) and then you had agreed to do that going forward.
posted by insectosaurus at 9:14 PM on June 14, 2013 [23 favorites]


Apparently he has overheard conversations between the other students in his department trashing not specifically us, but the wine and the kind of people who drink the wine

Probably worth it to splurge on a more expensive bottle of wine, but, Jesus Fuck, the kind of people who whisper about this sort of thing will find something else to make poisonous remarks about.

I think that if I behaved like that to my wife, who, like you seem to be, is a sweet and wonderful creature, I would be sleeping on the couch.

Unfortunately, wine is a status symbol, and for some rather dull people (wine snobs), the pricetag or the varietal has more importance than how it actually tastes. You can't really win.

On the other hand, you kind of have to be careful you're not taking something that is too jammy/sweet (Shiraz) or too savoury (Malbec).

But if you like something, why not share it?
posted by KokuRyu at 9:14 PM on June 14, 2013 [23 favorites]


I feel like a host gift is about making a significant contribution to the party or dinner, so although I do think it's possible to get a good tasting $6 bottle of wine, if it's a brand that everyone knows costs $6, that's a bit of a faux pas. It's like giving someone a $6 starbux card at Christmas when they bought you a $50 gift. If I bring a cheap bottle of wine to a party, I usually bring something else as well, like a nice cheese, or homemade cookies, or similar, to beef up my contribution.

That said, in a student gathering where everyone is poor, then $6 wine is absolutely de rigeur. You are unfortunate to be surrounded by poor people with expensive tastes.

And I agree that no matter whether you are making a social mistake or not, it is extremely rude of other people to be talking about that behind your back.
posted by lollusc at 9:15 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think DarlingBri is making a very good point--a hostess gift is not about what you like to drink and it's not even about what the other guests might think tastes good. It's about bringing a bottle of wine that signals a value you place on the effort the hostess has made. That's why any grocery store wine--even one that costs $20 is not the best choice. You want something that signals that you spent comparable time and effort choosing the hostess gift, not one that says "we grabbed this on the way over."

Sure, the colleagues are jerks for remarking on it. They are also missing the point, if they are going on about the "sort of people who drink TJ's wine". Seriously, if you like the way it tastes, it's as good as any other wine; who cares? But the point of a host gift is social signalling and the signal is about effort. The Trader Joe's wine falls short at any occasion outside one with family and intimate friends.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:18 PM on June 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


While you can certainly find TJ's $4/5/6/7 wine that is acceptably tasty, it is more appropriate for every day or big parties where everyone's just getting sloshed. For a hostess gift, $12-20 is more the norm.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 9:20 PM on June 14, 2013


My experience as a grad student most definitely included cheaper sub-$10 bottles of wine. We got to drink the good stuff when the professors brought it. Even now, as a faculty member, there's a contingent who are perfectly fine with a well picked cheaper bottle. I think reading your crowd is important though. When you do host, get a sense of about how much people are spending on what they contribute, and maybe consider that as a guide. Except that you won't need to worry about it, as your husband has now assumed the duty of picking up whatever you take to those parties.
posted by bizzyb at 9:22 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


This isn't about the wine. And I say this who also agrees that a TJ bottle of wine is great, but not for dinner parties.

If this was a party that someone invited you to, then if you brought $6 wine, and "embarrassed" yourself, then, well, that's for you to decide if that's okay or not. But these are his colleagues. If he shouldn't have wanted to have been "embarrassed" by a $6 bottle of wine, then he should have gotten the bottle of wine himself. Unless he asked you "hey, could you get a bottle of wine for the party?" Then it's still his prerogative to say, "oh, and a $15 bottle of wine this time". But he didn't -- and he supposedly overheard colleages talking about it, and now he's blaming you? Especially considering this happened multiple times?

This, to me doesn't sound like it's about wine, but more about a pattern of him blaming you about an issue that is 1) entirely within his control, and 2) ultimately his own responsibility.
posted by suedehead at 9:22 PM on June 14, 2013 [93 favorites]


I'm sorry, the idea that cheap wine is out of order at grad student parties is completely nuts. Grad student parties are what cheap wine was invented for. Furthermore, "looking cheap" is not something that any grad student should be concerned about, ever. The etiquette failure is in your husband's head, and the poisonous overheard gossip is best ignored.
posted by RogerB at 9:23 PM on June 14, 2013 [107 favorites]


My grad school cohort all leaned towards the cheap and cheerful side of things. None of us were knowledgeable about wine but it was fun to drink at the sort of low key parties that were being thrown. If it was drinkable and cheap, then it was doubly good, because hey, we were all broke but still got good wine! A win for us all!
posted by PussKillian at 9:37 PM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Please tell me, am I the embarrassing one?

Oh my gosh, this question requires a hug.

I don't know exactly what kind of validation you're looking for, but I fear you won't get it from these comments. "Am I embarrassing?" is a difficult question to ask the Internet, especially when it comes to wine and class-related social customs. (My "wine culture" rant is a comment for another day.)

For that reason, I want my hug mixed into all of these answers, many of which may be making you feel worse right now. I hope this doesn't cause any kind of lasting rift in your marriage. I'm sorry for what you're feeling.

Please believe me when I say that the price of the wine bottles you brought as gifts to parties is not an issue that you need to feel guilty about or lose sleep over.

If you need more verbal Internet hugs, please MeMail me. Hugs, hugs, hugs.
posted by The Girl Who Ate Boston at 9:38 PM on June 14, 2013 [33 favorites]


A lot of these same people spend a lot of time seeking out wine tastings and visits to wineries are *very* into knowing everything about wine and talking lots about it.

while i think they are being less than gracious with making wine snob comments this crowd is obviously quite into wine. so, it is definitely best to bring wines they will appreciate. cheap stuff won't do in this circumstance just like taking plain wrap soda to a BBQ would be considered really tacky even if it tastes just as good as Coke or Pepsi. i'd cut them some slack. poor grad students don't have much to be snobby about other than their smarts. i'd also keep going to their parties and be gracious. your husband is just trying to fit in although i agree he shouldn't have put this on you.
posted by wildflower at 9:40 PM on June 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I wholeheartedly agree with the others that if your husband cares what kind of wine you bring to parties, then your husband should buy the wine you bring to parties.

It would be nice and good to bring $10-15 bottles of wine, for reasons others give about making a gesture that is beyond the everyday and shows special appreciation, but it is nothing but gauche for people to talk behind your back about the wine you bring. I mean really. Maybe that is all someone can afford or maybe someone is simply not a serious wine drinker. It's pathetic that they can't not talk about and allow for a benefit of the doubt. Making that a subject of social shame reveals their own insensitivity and shallowness more than anything about their taste in wine. I like good wine, I know my way around wine, but people who do this are looking for something to nitpick about and overly impressed with themselves.

Please, feel NO GUILT or shame about this. And from now on, your husband is in charge of selecting, and funding, wine purchases you bring to parties.

Yeesh.
posted by Miko at 9:41 PM on June 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


Anybody who would talk disparagingly about "the kind of people who drink the wine I might bring to a party" is not worth a $20 bottle of wine, not worth a $5 bottle of wine, and not worth spending one minute of your time worrying about. You did nothing wrong and have no reason whatsoever to feel bad about this.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:42 PM on June 14, 2013 [25 favorites]


Please tell me, am I the embarrassing one?

I'm saying this as a former graduate student. I think that your peers are behaving in the embarrassing manner if they are gossiping about this ad nauseum and here is why: even if you are a grad student with a stipend that covers tuition and a measly living expense stipend, you have to live frugally. In addition, some grad students are using the measly stipend to pay for young children, a parent, health expenses, and things that one does not discuss with the entire population.

Grad students in some departments don't even get any stipend, so in some cases a person is taking on debt.

And someone is going to judge what you spend money on when it is barely enough to live on?

I'm with you OP, I wouldn't bother with those colleagues. I would also bet money that these people are mocking other people in the department, too (I knew grad students supporting kids on their stipend). Seek those people out and become their friends instead- I suspect that they may be ostracized by this weird faux pax too.
posted by Wolfster at 9:43 PM on June 14, 2013 [14 favorites]


As I see it, your husband should be choosing the gift. If he doesn't have time, have him stock up on several bottles at once.

I would not care one whit about the remarks of people with nothing better to do than insult your gift.

However, this has to do with your husband's career. In some careers (or organizations), wine is very important. I wouldn't want to put his career at risk. So I think $15-20 is entirely appropriate, just so that he feels like he fits in. It sounds like these occasions are more social to you, but more career-related for your husband. So expect to position for the job he wants...even if you don't like it. But he should buy the wine.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 9:48 PM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Grad students pretending to be upper class when they're earning poverty wages are obnoxious.

Grad students are ignorant if they don't know the research that wine taste varies so much between drinkers that expensive wine for multiple drinkers is mostly a waste.

Your husband was obnoxious not to just handle whatever his standards were discretely for himself w/out arguing with you and trying to shame you.

In general, academic snobbery is not an inevitable social force to which one must succumb, but something that people who matter will respect you for resisting.
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 9:48 PM on June 14, 2013 [45 favorites]


I had wine snobs coming to our wedding reception in the US and was told not to buy wine for them, but as an Aussie I wanted some Aussie wines at the wedding, the only ones I could find locally were $5 bottles at the local supermarket. The wine snobs all praised the wine and drank gallons of the stuff, trying all the different types and complimenting Australian wines, right up until they found out the price. Wine snobs are idiots. Research has shown that if you colour white wine red it suddenly tastes like berrys and plums to even the biggest wine "expert" where as the same wine left white sudden is crisp and summery. The only thing that changed is the colour. You have no reason to be embarrassed, nice wine is nice wine and price indicates nothing but how much someone could sell the wine for.

Having said that I would spend $10-20 if going to someones house for a dinner on whatever I take as a gift, but mainly because I am socially awkward and this is the amount I've been told in the past you spend on these things, so make of that what you will.

Now here's the thing, if it's your husband colleagues and friends and he doesn't like what you buy he can buy his own damn wine to take. Next time there is an event buy nothing, and plan to take nothing leave it up to your husband, if he's embarrassed then let him do it. Heck I'd even not go to any of the events again, if he finds the wrong wine embarrassing explaining his wife thinks his friends are idiots will be even more so.

You did nothing wrong. Your husband is a grown ass man he can buy his own wine or shut the hell up about what you buy. He saw what you were taking and never stopped you taking it. Just because he's embarrassed doesn't mean you should be.

Side note I hate when people bring host gifts (and having to buy them), just come and eat my damn food.
posted by wwax at 9:49 PM on June 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


It's not about the gift, it's the symbolism. The recipients don't have any way to know how much time or thought you put into your inexpensive wine. It may seem to them like you just picked something up at the grocery store because you thought you had to - there's no investment of yourself in it, that they can see. Bringing a $3 basket of something from the farmers' market tha's specially in season, or some brownies you made yourself, or something inexpensive you ordered from a particular vendor in another state -- these make great gifts. It's not about how much money you spend, it's about how much thought went into it, whether it's thought about the recipients or the gift.
posted by amtho at 9:49 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was taught that if you bring wine as a gift not not only should you not expect it to be opened, you should (discreetly) let the host know it. This is because, regardless of its cost, many hosts who have spent time planning a dinner party have also planned which wines to serve with it. Your bottle may not really fit in with the menu but the host may feel obligated to serve it anyway. Conversely, a good host who does not want to open a gift bottle for any reason should accept it graciously and tell the guest how lovely it will be to have at UPCOMING PLACE & TIME.

Miss Manners:
Hosts and guests have been encroaching on each other's responsibilities alarmingly, with some hosts demanding contributions and other guests showing up with unannounced offerings because they feel they owe contributions.

This is a chaotic way to entertain. Someone has to be in charge, and it must be the host (who, except in cases of frankly cooperative gatherings, such as group meetings, should provide the refreshments). Anything guests choose to bring must be considered a present, to be used or not depending on the circumstances -- as judged by the host.
Unless these are pot luck wine tastings I think you are the only one acting appropriately. I have brought special coffee or other breakfast-y things specifically for my host to enjoy the morning after. It's especially appreciated if the host wakes up to a mess or is hung over and/or tired.

I would totally invite you to my party.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:51 PM on June 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


I agree with C&TPC that your husbands over-reaction was probably in defense of his career; however, in hanging out with HARDCORE scotch snobs, (who happen to be nice people, too) if I brought a cheap bottle, they wouldn't judge me. (much) They wouldn't drink it, probably, but they would be nice.
posted by Jacen at 9:55 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


In general I don't think it's a great idea to bring a bottle of wine as a gift that is obviously ultra-cheap, which applies to anything that is obviously from Trader Joe's. Although if you brought something like that to my house I would just happily drink it, even if it were a really fancy dinner party.

The assumption for a grad student event, however, should be that cheap wine should be just fine. It seems that the group your husband is trying to impress has different standards. I find their attitude extremely off-putting, but if you want to keep going to their events it perhaps is not so cool to be contributing significantly less than the others.

I'm sorry your husband brought this up to you in such an unfair way. As others point out, dealing with this is entirely his responsibility.
posted by grouse at 9:55 PM on June 14, 2013


But I do want to know if I really have been out of line in the past.

Not even a little bit. The people shaming your husband are horrifyingly crass. Your husband allowing that shit to bother him is understandable but not ideal. Your husband trying to foist the shame onto you is kind of dickish.

I understand that many PhD programs are basically "cotillion for eggheads." But the responsibility for figuring out the social norms lies entirely with your husband. When he says that as an unfortunate matter of fact people seem to be assholes about the price of the wine, he deserves your help and sympathy. He's no doubt feeling some stress about it.

But saying you were out of line in the past and blaming you for it? Personally, I'd expect an apology and even then might drag my feet a little before attending any more of these events. I understand having to deal with people like that goes with the territory, but if my spouse were adopting their bad attitudes, I wouldn't want to see it.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:58 PM on June 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Man, when I started grad school, just DRINKING wine -- any wine, because who the hell could tell what was good and what was bad? (I still can't) -- was the height of sophistication.

Initially I read your question as if your husband was a TT prof going to department parties, but if everyone involved is a grad student? Just no. You're probably being overly generous bringing a bottle of wine to the host/hostess in the first place, unless everyone is constantly throwing fancy dinner parties, in which case I want to know where you're going to school and how much the stipend is that people can afford to have fancy parties and go to wineries and drink expensive wine all the time. We did house parties virtually every weekend and it was always BYOB; occasionally the host might provide alcohol to everyone for special occasions or share a new kind of drink with everyone, but mostly you were on your own and you showed up only with what you wanted to drink and/or share with others.

Now, if your husband was a TT prof and was going to parties hosted by other members of the department, I'd have a different answer -- but in this case, you shouldn't be embarrassed; these terribly snobby people should.
posted by pised at 10:08 PM on June 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


For context, here is my background: raised by parents who grew up blue collar and did not do fancy socializing in our home, surrounded by a ton of friends and their parents who were academics and did lots of fancy socializing all the time, and now most of my friends are academics and techies and we do everything, but a lot of it involves wine.

Now here are my scattered thoughts.

- Since unlike him, I grew up in a rich family, I just don't care about looking cheap since I “already know what class I am."

I would say, go kind of easy on your husband for this. Not if he turns into like Jay Gatsby, but it just may be true that he has class anxiety and you don't and that's why it bothers him and not you. I feel like I can roll my eyes at these people now, because even though as a child I didn't grow up as That Kind of Person who would know about Things Like That, I've spent enough time around Things Like That in my life to this point that I'm not ignorant about them, and I also know that when you're a snob about something, that is a fail when it comes to being That Kind of Person. But until that happened, it was easy for those sorts of people to make me feel like I was lacking in embarrassing ways.

I remember I had this one high school friend whose father, it seemed, liked to brag about her by comparing me unfavorably to her. I was having dinner (with a nice wine, of course) at their house once and we were talking about how my friend had been learning Ancient Greek. Out of the blue the father said to me, "So cairdeas... what other languages do YOU know?? -- BESIDES French and Spanish???" The man had known me my whole life and knew perfectly well that my family only spoke English and our high school only offered French and Spanish. I think he expected me to hang my head and say "well... none :(" Luckily, it was right at the time when I had started learning Hebrew, which he didn't know! It surprised him and he dropped the topic. I felt smug. But my point is, until you can get to the point where you can out-know the things these people know, they can really make you feel like shit sometimes, if they're out to do so, and you're sensitive.

Now, that being said,

My husband says that according to the other students whose parties we are attending, anything less than fifteen dollars a bottle is trash/embarrassing.

Your husband, being sensitive, could have wayyyyyyy misinterpreted/overinterpreted whatever it was that they said. Context is important. It doesn't sound like they were specifically talking about what people bring to parties, just about less expensive wine in general. But what was the context. Say there is an event where you've paid to get in and free wine is supposedly part of that. Depending on how much you paid, if it turns out to be two-buck-chuck, you might be disappointed and say so. But that doesn't mean you wouldn't drink that wine EV0R and it would always be "embarrassing."

Say it was like a $35 luncheon honoring a prestigious professor and all the organizers bought was 2-buck-chuck. I could see a reasonable person saying that was embarrassing.

But if they literally said something like "Anything less than $15 per bottle is trash" and/or "I would be embarrassed to bring a bottle of wine costing less than $15 to any kind of party," then my eye rolls for them. First of all, it makes them sound like they don't know anything about wine. It actually makes THEM sound like total poseurs to me. It makes them sound like super insecure nouveax-riche people who think "classy" means rejecting things simply for being inexpensive, and dissing the people who can only afford those things.

Now. Let's go with the assumption that a hostess gift is supposed to make a "significant contribution" to the dinner, which I don't particularly agree with necessarily, but whatever. Here's the thing. It's grad school!!!!!! $4-$6 wines ARE a significant contribution to a dinner in grad school among at least 95% of grad students I have ever been familiar with. Grad school is where everyone is broke as a joke. Where people still eat ramen regularly! Where people still live in decrepit share houses with tons of roommates because they have to!! Where they can only afford to go out to happy hours and have to leave when happy hour is over because they can't afford the drinks when the prices go back up!!! I actually witnessed this just a few weeks ago!!! I was out with a group of people ranging in age from 25 to 30-something who did exactly this, just up and left the bar en masse once happy hour was over because that was all they could afford, because they were grad students!!! One of them being a girl who is doing her field work in Italy, whose boyfriend has their own family vineyard and makes their own wine, in Italy!!!!! And guess what? She ain't bringing $15 bottles of wine places.

Either these people don't have any other friends in grad school, or they only socialize with people who have other sources of wealth/money, or they're totally out of touch with the reality for most grad students.

Even in "Adult Life" if you like the wine, and you're bringing the wine because you think the other people will like it too, and it so happens to be a $4 wine, you are fine.

In "Adult Life" if you are bringing the wine because it's all you can afford, you are fine and anyone who turns up their nose at it, well I'll just say I don't think that's very nice at all and I do not think I would want to socialize with them. I don't think those would be very good friends.

In "Adult Life" if you bring NOTHING because it's all you can afford, you are fine. In my opinion, and amongst my wonderful friends.

My conclusion is, I don't think you did anything wrong at all, and I think your husband may get over his embarrassment as time goes on and he gets more familiar with these sorts of things.
posted by cairdeas at 10:08 PM on June 14, 2013 [33 favorites]


This is about taste (it's about etiquette and class, but in the end those boil down to taste), and taste is utterly arbitrary. I guess you could argue some kind of old money vs. new money thing here, but really the wine is really beside the point. You could substitute beer, or whiskey, or cheese, or record collections or restaurants or Twitter followers or belts or custom Magic: The Gathering decks, and it would be the same issue: these people are snobs about something you are not a snob about.

The question then becomes: How much do you value being on their good side? And the considerations: are the potential career/social benefits worth the monetary investment plus the investment of feeling uncomfortable and fake and out of place and, yes, embarrassed? Do you think it's worth it to learn to play by their rules? (Not a leading question, this is just what you always have to ask yourself.)
posted by dekathelon at 10:33 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and if your "low-brow" taste is an indication of your own palate and sophistication then you're in good company.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:41 PM on June 14, 2013


End run: since all these people are "into wine" -- go the other way -- buy a couple esoteric 22 oz bottles of interesting beer.

I agree with all the people above that says everyone is in the wrong here. Your husband may feel embarrassed but there are better ways to handle that including making the effort to find his own bottle of wine to contribute and not make you feel terrible about your contribution. Pay no mind to the wine snickerers as they are both boorish and shallow and perhaps a bit naive. Although, there's another read which is playful ribbing. We would totally rib someone who showed up with a mass-market rice-based beer around here (but we would also expect them to own it and tell us to fuck off).

I think you should sit the next party or two out because your feelings are hurt and you're feeling like the odd man out. Let your husband come up with a goddamn host/hostess gift.

Lastly, it really depends on the crowd. There's usually a layered thing happening at parties: first, the host or hostess picks the initial beverages, then some of the nicer/more interesting beverages get opened and when people start getting tipsy, they reach for the cheap stuff. If it's that kind of party, you want some cheap stuff in there. If I really like the host/ess, I have occasionally brought a special bottle for them ("Feel free to keep this for later or share it with the group -- it's a really yummy X that I thought you might like.") and then a bottle of mid-range ($15-20) for the group.

I'm sorry that you went through all that -- I send you a hug as well, it sucks to hear such nasty stuff. Do try not to take it personally but I think your husband just bought himself some full-time wine duty.
posted by amanda at 10:48 PM on June 14, 2013


I think these people are crass and rude.

Okay, I admit: I wouldn't take a bottle of wine that cost less than about $15 (minimum) as a hostess gift. But that's because a) I know next to nothing about wine, so all I have to go on is price, and I assume more $$ = better, as a general rule. (I'm sure that I'm plenty wrong about that, but it's all I've got). And b) I'm not a grad student, and nor are my friends.

That said, I would never criticise someone for giving me a $5 bottle of wine as a hostess gift! At most, I'd think 'Ooh, doesn't look too tasty....oh well', and then move on. A gift is a gift is a gift, and I don't presume to know other people's finances or whatever.

They're tacky, you're not. And if your husband didn't like the quality of wine you were gifting, he should have known about it and spoken up sooner, so that's on him. *Hugs*
posted by Salamander at 11:05 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's a lot going on here, and for starters I think you shouldn't feel bad. I also wouldn't be at all surprised if your husband is overly sensitive to a small number of remarks that weren't intended as pointed. I also totally agree with cairdeas that if price is all they are talking about, they are totally posturing. There are certainly enough tasty wines for casual social events in the 5-10 dollar range, even a few at TJs. And there are even more crappy $15-20+ wines, so price isn't how you should be picking anyway.

The key to this is the nature of these gatherings. Are people using this to hang out with BYOB drinks in the evening, or is it an specifically to get together to share nice wine and food? If it's the latter — and I know my circle of friends had many such parties in grad school — then it might feel like you're seeming a bit socially oblivious, or even mooching if everyone else is putting in more effort and spending four times as much as you are (maybe eight, if single people are sharing a 20 dollar bottle of wine with you and you're bringing a five dollar bottle as a couple). It also then depends on how much of their wine you are drinking. But if it's just a BBQ and there's beer and wine and soda, then they are being absolutely ridiculous. We, the answerers, really have no way of knowing. But it never hurts to try to carefully observe and roughly follow the social norms of a situation until you really understand where they are coming from.

None of this is any excuse to be rude to you — although it also sounds like you might not know exactly how much they really care, since you're getting these conversations second hand. But indeed, there certainly are some people who get really annoying about their wine, and grad students who are just beginning to start learning about it, but lack breadth of experience, are probably among the worst.
posted by Schismatic at 11:13 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


What's really important here doesn't have anything to do with wine. Maybe some have noticed and negatively judged a gift you brought, maybe not. Whether the judgement of these individuals is worth paying attention to is a whole other matter of discussion. Where the discussion led you and your husband though should be a cause of real concern for you in my opinion.

Telling someone that they have embarrassed you is a powerful negative act that people often take far too lightly. There has been research that suggests our reaction of social rejection is equivalent to physical pain. I think the pain you are experiencing over your husband essentially throwing you under the bus over this is the main thing you are contending with. Whatever you think of the wine situation, he was flatly in the wrong in how he framed and argued this. Making a past decision that he clearly mounted no objection to all about you and your choices because he perceived some possible social embarrassment in it after the fact is also pretty underhanded rhetoric.

Even so it is worth acknowledging that he is acting out in reaction to his own fear/perception (right or wrong) of social rejection. It is a context where the best of us can end up not being rational or displaying our best selves.

It also sounds like there is some possible baggage (for him at least) to do with your disparate economic backgrounds. Maybe even going back to your courtship/marriage? If this kind of thing is needling him it is just going to keep coming up in one way or another until it gets sorted out somehow.

Your solution (such as it is) of leaving him to attend these parties on his own seems like a bad idea to me. I have no doubt some will take me to task for this characterization but now you are basically socially rejecting him and while you ascribe this to not wishing to socialize with his colleagues because of their (hearsay, assumed, unverified and presumably not universal) judgement of you but I can't help but think the motivation is at least partly punitive towards him. Among other things he's inevitably going to be called upon to account for your absence and he's going to have little choice but to lie about it. And now this argument is going to get dragged into the room, silently or not, every time he is invited to some gathering.

Honestly this all sounds pretty bad to me. I assume you haven't been married particularly long. Marriage is hard. Your spouse has got to have your back and vice versa or else your marriage becomes just another thing in your life that saps your energy and drags you down. I think you should take another crack at this conversation, focusing on how your husband made you feel and better ways of dealing with things like a disagreement in keeping up appearances in a social context. Ten bucks is a very small price to pay for easing a sense of anxiety over social appearances (again, however right or reasonable that anxiety might be), but you have the right to expect your husband to have your back and take your side in how he sees and approaches something like this.
posted by Luke Skywalker at 11:14 PM on June 14, 2013 [26 favorites]


First, taking anything at all is being gracious, and not an obligation, unless it's a BYOB or a potluck.

Second,

My husband says that according to the other students whose parties we are attending, anything less than fifteen dollars a bottle is trash/embarrassing.

Trash? Nonsense. A person with wine skills picking from $10 wines will always do better than someone picking $20 wines at random. I've enjoyed $7 wines and poured $50 wines down the sink and vice versa. If they think that (once you're out of the $2 clearance crap) the price tag is a reliable guide to quality, they show how little they know about wines.

Embarrassing? Well, maybe -- your husband, like anyone else, wants to be thought well of by his coworkers. Even if, as in this case, his coworkers are ignorant and ill-mannered. He may be a bit embarrassed that he didn't accurately gauge their expectations, which can apparently be described as "conspicuous spending." But you should never feel in the wrong for that. I'm just sorry that you're in a position where you have to take these fools' opinions into consideration.
posted by tyllwin at 11:28 PM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wouldn't want to have anything to do with them either.

I suspect though that they aren't as uniformly awful it might appear right now. You would know best whether your husband might be guilty of exaggerating for effect. It might also be that he genuinely feels that this is a really big deal, but that perception might be shaped by insecurity about his prospects as an academic (not an unreasonable thing for anyone pursuing a PhD to be insecure about in this day and age).

As for the idea that your choices somehow signal that you don't value the effort of your host or hostess; anyone who takes affront at your hostess gift has failed at gracious hospitality at a very fundamental level.

That said, if you can indeed afford the effort and cost of procuring a more unusual wine, why not do so in the future, once you've moved past this (one way or another). A trick you might use to reduce the cost and effort: When you (or your husband) finds a suitable wine, buy a case for special occasions.
posted by Good Brain at 11:28 PM on June 14, 2013


This isn't about wine. It's about giving each other the benefit of the doubt. You didn't know how he felt, even though he thought you should. And he didn't know you'd turn to all of us for an answer, even though that was a brilliant move.

Hug each other and apologize to each other. Right now!
posted by mono blanco at 11:36 PM on June 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


My 2 cents:

-Seems your husband could have handled this better, both by expressing his preference in a less accusatory way and/or handling the wine purchase himself.

-These students are jerks

-Class background probably has a lot to do with the relative embarrassment your husband feels that you don't. My mind was blown when I finally figured out that truly rich people were the ones in fancy restaurants and stores that didn't seem concerned and sometimes acted poorly. It is often the people with impeccable manners that are new to it. These are also his colleagues so he has more invested in making a good impression.

-Whether or not they are jerks or your husband handled things badly, it might be useful to just get in the habit of bringing a $12-20 bottle of wine to events that tie in with either of your careers or involve people you don't know very well but want to ingratiate yourself to. Is their judgment justified or meaningful? No, but you will encounter people like this everywhere and sometimes staying on good terms with them will be important to your career trajectory. There's always politics involved and a few bucks more for uneducated self-described wine snobs will avoid the part where you have to worry about their perception.
posted by amycup at 11:46 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Holy cow. No wonder the kid in the next AskMe is confused about American customs. We're all over the map.

Find a local wine shop, tell them what you like, and what you want to spend, and let them help you.
posted by notyou at 11:58 PM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Alright. My wife disagrees. Depends on the occasion. Nice event? Be respectful of the event and your hosts. Casual event? Bring your Two Buck Chuck. "It's all about respecting your host's effort."
posted by notyou at 12:08 AM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


If at any time he went to a party, ashamed of what you brought, and yet failed to communicate this before the next party to enable things to be different next time around, any shame he felt at any subsequent event is on him.

I think he is right that a more expensive wine is warranted (for symbolism more than taste), but he is wrong to suggest that you are the cause of his shame if he had the opportunity to speak up and did not.
posted by anonymisc at 12:16 AM on June 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


Wine presents are difficult in any case. I usually keep it in the midrange for the following reasons:
1) I don't want to give stuff to people that they perhaps hate
2) I don't want to spend a month's wage on a party gift

Embarrassment doesn't or shouldn't enter the equation, however, or you guys are hanging out with the wrong crowd. But yes, I take point 1 and 2 in that order.
posted by Namlit at 12:22 AM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


This never should have reached this point and the fact that it has indicates a much bigger problem than how much to spend on wine for a party. The first time you bought an inexpensive bottle of wine and your husband disapproved of it he should have just nicely suggested that it might be a good idea to show up with a more expensive wine as a hostess gift, but the cheaper wine was enjoyable for the two of you at home, or for very casual get-togethers with friends. No biggie, right?

I doubt that he ever thought about the value of the wine you were taking to the parties until he heard some pompous ass make a snide remark about it, which embarrassed him, of course, and then his own immaturity made him lash out at you in retaliation for his own mistake.

Jerk. He'd go to his own parties and I'd drink my wine, enjoying the peace without him, if it were me.
posted by aryma at 12:26 AM on June 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


FWIW, I think your perspective on hosting and wine is absolutely the better one, but to be precise I mean that it is better than that of the student social circle, and since your husband has to move within that circle, his view that the two of you accommodate their miserly perspective on hosting and wine, is also correct.

Two sayings spring to mind: "When in Rome, do as the Romans do", and "These Romans are crazy!"
Neither position contradicts the other.


if he had the opportunity to speak up and did not.

I'll add a huge caveat - if he does not know how to bring this up with you without it becoming a huge argument, or you do not know how to hear it from him without it becoming a huge argument, then that is a much bigger problem for you two than the wine etiquette or social embarrassment, and you guys should be focusing on that.

Just in case there is an elephant in the room.
posted by anonymisc at 1:34 AM on June 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Luke Skywalker, Salamander, Airing Nerdy Laundry, cairdea all have it.

If these people knew anything about wine they'd know that if it tastes good it is good.

Also, a hostess gift is not meant to be consumed with the meal, so only if this is a potluck or BYOB should anyone even be noticing this much less disparaging it - and on grounds of *price!!!* Shocking. Seriously I believe you know what you're doing, plonk tastes good therefore plonk is good. Case closed.

However you don't actually know what was said. This is your husband saying this, not them. For all you know they chuckled good-naturedly and said "OP sure has great taste in plonk, and knows how to stretch a dollar too! You're a lucky man, Husband!" and he blew it out of proportion. If they are really complaining about this they are in the wrong, and either way he is not handling it well.

If I were you I would not stay home on grounds that you're "embarrassing", you don't need to be isolated in that way. Just let him pick the gifts and take these people on their individual merits, not as a monolith of hearsay.
posted by tel3path at 1:41 AM on June 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I agree with those above who said two things:

1) From what you reported your husband handled this really poorly.

2) Bringing a dirt cheap bottle of wine isn't really a very appropriate gift for an adult without regard to whether it tastes good or not. The gift is a symbol, and giving someone a $3 gift is not good symbolism.

Furthermore I think your backgrounds play in to your relative reactions. Someone who grew up with money might well tend to be less self aware about the class markers they are displaying.
posted by Justinian at 2:17 AM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I work in a field where we host many fancy events, often involving wine. We have access to huge discounts direct from the wineries and some of my colleagues have become very knowledgeable and, at the same time, quite contemptuous of wine snobs. One of their favourite games is to get the cheapest stuff possible, decant and serve it with the right food and lots of fanfare, and see how many idiots they can get to ooh and ahh about it. (They do the reverse once in a while, too, deliberately downplaying a high-quality bottle and seeing who has the courage to say "but I really like this one!" Those are the people who get invited back for the serious gourmet events.) The bottom line, as someone above mentioned, is that people who really know about wine know that there are gems at every price point.

I am more concerned about your husband's treatment of you in all this. If he doesn't like the gifts you are bringing, he should handle it himself by stocking up on whatever he deems appropriate. (Deciding on that is his problem, not yours.) Passing on the comments from the other students, accurate or not, is only likely to make you uncomfortable around the group. Skipping a couple of events while the sting of this wears off is fine, but don't stay away too long or the rift might grow out of proportion.
posted by rpfields at 2:33 AM on June 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Your husband should have insisted on more expensive bottles of wine way back - otherwise it is a shared mistake - WTF??

That said, yeah, $12 to $20 is a good guideline for hostess gift.

For the record, I'm a culinary professional. Also, I'm a "super taster." The internets taught me this last point, before the Internet, I thought I was just a freak of nature.

After 25 years in the business, I thought EVERYONE knew there are gems of bottles in the $6 range, because pricing of wine is subjective, and hunting out those gems is a hobby of most foodies!

You made a social faux pas, maybe, but your husband held the reigns here as he knew the expectations of the recipients, and failed to act accordingly.

This is ultimately on your husband and his fake snobby associates, not you.
posted by jbenben at 2:39 AM on June 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


As a Thank You for a recent favor, a friend gifted us a bottle of red that was FANTASTIC!

After we complimented her, she told us it was from TJ's and leftover from an event she managed. They bought the wine for the event because the label resembled Veuve Clicqot champagne. The red is from a vineyard called Griffon. It's about $6 at TJ's and AWESOME!!

Just a data point. Elegant bottle, great wine, $6.

Gestures matter. In this case for us being turned on to a great inexpensive wine we liked was amazing.

Again, super taster and culinary professional here.

I don't doubt these colleagues are snobby, and due some consideration for career purposes. But they've also shown themselves to be shallow and uneducated when it comes to wine.

Meh.
posted by jbenben at 2:52 AM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think I'd say if you have a particular favorite $6 wine (my family has our favorite $8 one, and the $6 vinho verde from Whole Foods is the greatest summer wine ever) and you always bring that, then that's fine. If you're just picking up random TJ's bottles for $6 because you have to bring something and that's cheap, that's a little ... weird, to me, as a person who likes to host parties involving wine. There's an attitude difference if you can show up saying "I got this because I love it with burgers!" versus "Well I had to get one, and this was cheap." The difference between good and not good wines at the $6 level, to me, is usually drinkability (and decently good) versus a really sharp, sour taste (the "vinegar" taste), or being cloyingly sweet (my experience with quite a few of Trade Joe's cheaper whites, to be honest). At the $10+ level, while that can still definitely happen, it's more likely I simply won't like the wine rather than actually feel physical discomfort drinking it. So if you aren't choosing a $6 wine because you KNOW you enjoy it, you might have better luck randomly choosing something acceptable if you slightly up your budget.

Also realize that you may just taste wine differently than other people. My husband has no problem pouring himself a glass of whatever has been open on the counter or in the fridge for the last week. To my taste, it's absolutely awful to drink (and yes, I do notice even if I don't see what he's pouring). The $6 wines may taste awesome to you and not to others, and vice versa. But if you are bringing a host/ess gift, and not just a bottle you know you'll drink, you may want to cater to their tastes, not to your own.

For reference, if I go randomly buy a bottle for dinner, it's usually in the $10-$12 range. If I buy for someone's party, it's in the $15-$20 range. If I buy for someone who I know likes wine or is a big foodie who's putting a lot of effort into hosting, I'll spring for $25 or $30. Since I only go to parties like that once or twice a year, that's no big deal. If it were on a weekly basis, I'd readjust my budget.

Consider it equivalent to showing up at a dinner party with a six pack of Budweiser versus a six pack of some local microbrew. I mean, yeah, maybe you really like Budweiser (I do, no lie), but showing up with that implies something different than showing up with even something like the Sam Adams seasonal or your nearest microbrew's IPA, right? It's not that one is wrong or not, and there are events (BBQs? Frat parties?) that may warrant Budweiser, but sometimes it's about doing something a little nice for the host and springing for something that wasn't just the cheapest option.

tl;dr: I do think you should change your strategy about wine that you take to parties. That said I don't think your husband has handled the issue very well with you, so I don't blame you for being upset.
posted by olinerd at 3:17 AM on June 15, 2013


The folks talking about how rude the other students are are totally missing the point. Graduate School is not about hanging out with people who have reasonable and well formed social expectations, its about succeeding at getting a degree you can use to build the career you want. To that end your husband's colleagues can either be invaluable assets or a really big hinderance.

If your husbands colleagues genuinely do care more about the price tag on a bottle than how it tastes, which is indeed stupid, and your husband does not have the social capital to lead them out of this, then a Trader Joe's bottle of wine was an inappropriate thing for him to bring. What is most important about his relationship with them is that it is intimate and reliable enough that he can fairly split instrument time, or exchange manuscripts for editing, or discuss new ideas in a way critical of the ideas without being critical of each other, or whatever else it is humanities people do if thats his flavor. It is also important for that relationship, with at least a few other colleagues, to be at least friendly enough to provide the kind of mutual validation that comes with a real friendship - graduate school is lonely and that part sucks.
"As you may have guessed, it's gone beyond the wine now, and at this point I am pretty much soured on all of these people and could care less to attend these parties with him in the future. But I'm allowing for the possibility that I may be totally off base here about how embarrassing I am and I just need an attitude adjustment by the hive mind."
You might be missing how totally trapped your husband is, he does not have the luxury of being soured on these people. It might be helpful to think of them more like his family than his friends, he did not get to choose them and the relationship he has to them can, and in many ways should, be at least as intimate. There is an, also often unpleasantly snobby, habit that many academics have of calculating back academic lineages building family trees by considering everyone's PhD supervisor to be their academic father/mother, and while everyone is distantly related to a famous person in this sense, invalidating most of the snobbery, the concept is still a pretty cool one. Your husband's supervisor really is in a lot of important ways very describable as their academic parent, and their colleagues under the same supervisor really are their academic siblings while their colleagues in the same department really are their academic cousins. Being able to have close relationships with difficult people very much is one of the most valuable skills an academic can learn, and having a partner who can support them in this is also an incredibly valuable asset.

That said, your husband is being an asshat. He is blaming you for a favor that you did excellently well for him with the information that he gave you and he is blaming you for his, totally understandable, failure to accurately gauge the social situation, which is not at all ok. Dating an academic does require a lot of adjustment to the peculiar situation that academics are in, but that shit is a red flag unrelated to him being in graduate school.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:20 AM on June 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


If your husband does have the social capital to do so, the right thing for him to do would be to brag about how his wife really loves wine and is a supertaster, or whatever, who can find amazing bottles for low prices before offering to share the priceless information. It doesn't matter if you are or not, they won't be able to tell the difference, and from your question it sounds like you have enough of unspoken class markers to make it more than convincing.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:25 AM on June 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I agree with the folks who say the other party-goers are being rude and ungracious, and I agree that you probably ought to be upping the quality of the wine a bit. I've lived in the States and I don't think I ever found anything under 7 bucks that I'd feel comfortable taking to a party. A couple of 10 or 11 ones, sure, but generally I expect to pay 14 and up for a reasonable bottle - which is what I'd want to take to a social function.

I also do not understand why your husband is giving you a hard time for this. If it bothers him, how come he isn't handling the wine selection?
posted by Decani at 3:42 AM on June 15, 2013


I don't think you should be embarrassed, but I do think you should try to be more sympathetic to your husband. Forgive me for reading between the lines, but I think it's quite likely that he is self-concious about the disparity between your backgrounds. For all we know, be may not have known that anything was wrong until he overheard the conversation. It sounds like he reacted poorly, but perhaps he was relying on you to choose the hostess gifts precisely because he didn't feel confident with wine at all. And he made the assumption that you, having more experience in this world, would know what to do. All the stories about people who seek out $6 gems assume enough knowledge to know good wine from bad. This is knowledge your husband probably doesn't have.

My husband grew up far wealthier than I. We met in college, and there were many times when I found his casual blindness to things that gave me a great deal of anxiety very vexing. And we were just friends then. I can't imagine how frustrated I'd have been if we'd been a couple.

You are married, and you are a team. Your husband handled this poorly, but that doesn't mean you stop being supportive of his career.
posted by snickerdoodle at 4:03 AM on June 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Arguing about blame and who should be embarrassed? Dickish from either of you.

You're not an idiot - you know when you're going to an event that's formal, semi-formal, or casual. Your husband's colleagues are not idiots either, they know what Trader Joe's wine means colloquially - a fun $4 bottle to get drunk with, not to savour the taste of. When you bring a bottle of Trader Joe's wine, no matter whether it cost $4 or $14, it "means" the same thing.

Simple answer: buy your gift wine elsewhere when going to a semi-formal or formal event.
posted by Magnakai at 4:35 AM on June 15, 2013


I'm gonna vote "you are both wrong and in lots of different ways"

Your husband handled this dickishly no doubt. But this isn't about wine snobbery. It also misstates what a hostess gift is. The problem with bringing TJ's wine (which by the way there are many many many non-snobbish and even non taste related reasons why you shouldn't buy $7 industrial wine (organic or not) when for $11-$12 you can get wine made by actual winemakers who grew their own grapes and dry farm them organically ) is that it makes a poor gift. It's like going holiday shopping at Walgreens. It says nothing interesting. A hostess gift is not meant to be drunk at the party. A hostess gift is not the same thing as being asked to bring wine ( where my issues with Industrial wine aside I think a 6-7 bottle of wine that you personally like to drink is a great thing to bring). It's meant to say thank you for inviting us, here is something I think you might not have had the chance to come across and I think you might enjoy. Just grappling a bottle out of the mixed case of TJ's wine isn't that, especially as they might drink that themselves on the reg.

Still though your husband handled this quite dickishly.
posted by JPD at 4:55 AM on June 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Agreeing that, at a grad student party, this is really completely totally acceptable. Even when I've hosted small, elaborately planned dinner parties, people have felt comfortable bringing (and drinking) PBR.
posted by munyeca at 5:39 AM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think this depends on whether this is a dinner party or a potluck. If it's a potluck and you're bringing food plus a cheap wine, you're fine. If it's a dinner party and everyone but you brings more expensive host presents, it looks a bit cheap. If it's a dinner party and you never reciprocate, it looks a lot cheap.

Now, there's usually a continuum between potluck and dinner party, but without more info, it's hard to tell.

But essentially, if you're bringing stuff to be drunk during dinner, you're in a better position than if you're bringing a gift -- the first is probably ok, the second isn't. That said, if you're spending $5 a bottle and everyone else is spending $15, it does look cheap; it's also sort of weird for a non-wine-snob to give a wine snob actual wine as a gift. But it's not clear if you knew everyone else was spending more or if you knew these people were into wine before the conversation with your husband.
posted by jeather at 5:53 AM on June 15, 2013


Did they really use words like trash, or was that added in the retelling?

Assuming the students who made the comments really did say something derogatory - It could be that they are new to hanging out with people who don't share similar resources and backgrounds. In my experience, people who have very rigid ideas about what things should cost and what gifts to bring are people who hang out in very homogenous groups. Everyone knows what to expect from each other, and if someone does something different they feel like it's ok to criticize.

But in diverse groups with different means and expectations everyone has to deal with more uncertainty (social mixed signaling, if you will). There's a guest who's embarrassed that she didn't know to bring a hostess gift. There's another guest who's embarrassed because she feels overdressed and she's starting to think the $20 bottle of wine she brought is making her look pretentious. These groups just have more room for embarrassment on all sides. I think it makes everyone involved a little more forgiving.

I don't think this wine thing is a big deal; it just means you and your husband are coming from a different place than some of the other guests. If it were me, I'd keep going to the parties.
posted by balacat at 5:57 AM on June 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Should you bring a 5/6/7 dollar bottle if wine to a party? No.

Is a 5/6/7 dollar bottle of wine necessarily bad? No, but this does not supersede the first answer.

Are the fellow partygoers jerks? Yes, but that does not supersede the first answer.

Should your husband make this your problem? Emphatically no.

There is plenty of gauche behavior in your question, more than enough to go around.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:15 AM on June 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


It BLOWS MY MIND that there are grad student parties - GRAD STUDENTS - who care about how much your wine costs. That sounds like the worst PhD program ever. I am no longer a grad student but most of my friends are. Last night I brought over a six-pack of PBR for dinner because I was short on cash and the liquor store doesn't take credit cards. I apologized, because ick, PBR, but I mean...they're grad students. They drank it, and also no one cared. (In any case, assuming you're not talking about Charles Shaw, TJ's wine is way better than PBR.) I have never apologized for bringing over a $7 bottle of wine, I have never even THOUGHT about it, and I'm pretty sure no one's ever brought a more expensive bottle of wine to my parties. Though it would never occur to me to check, either, because uh...that seems like the tackiest thing around. I have no problem with cheap wine - I have a huge problem with trying to figure out how much someone paid for a GIFT they gave me.

I get what you all are saying about bringing a $12-$20 bottle of wine to a fancy grown-up party where people are wearing pantsuits or cocktail dresses or whatever it is legitimate adults wear. And their advice is probably good for fancy things at the homes of faculty members. But house parties held by grad students? Come on. What kind of grad student isn't just grateful for free alcohol? (Annoying ones.) I think these students are being dicks, OP, and so is your husband. If he's that concerned about grad students thinking he's cheap, he can buy the wine himself.

I just...you guys. Grad students.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 6:29 AM on June 15, 2013 [31 favorites]


Sounds like your husband's department may be full of nasty people. Some departments are - the tone can be set by a couple of snob/abusive faculty or a couple of charismatic asshole students. If your husband's department is horrible, your husband is trapped in a near-abusive situation - he has to see these people all the time and make nice to them and never, ever allude to the fucked-up-edness of the situation, and it can really mess with his head. Which may be why he's flipping out. Unfortunately, if that's actually the case then dropping out of party-going is a bad idea - nasty and abusive academics will be happy to knife each other down the road over fellowships and short term teaching placements, and they'll knife your husband if they see him as a weirdo whose wife does not go to parties. (Do all the other people's partners go to parties? That's not typical of the program social life that I know, but again, if this is some kind of horrible status-conscious program...)

I'd suggest sitting down with your husband to plan how you're going to deal with these people. And make it clear to him that if your relations as a couple with them are so important, he cannot fucking hang you out to dry like this. If you actually have to go to these parties with him as a career-building/abusive-family situation you both need to be a team. Although honestly, it might be worthwhile to develop a serious hobby - then you will only have to go to some of these parties and he can just airily say that you're busy with your parachuting if you're not at all of them.

I think it's probably strategically better to bring something nicer than Trader Joe's wine - I certainly have met snob academics who would think it was cute and hick for somebody to bring such cheap stuff, and it might get talked about in a way that was not career-building. (Why did you decide to skip grad school, Frowner? Too much interaction with humanities department faculty and grad students, that's why! That and the job market, of course.)

Your town probably has a good liquor store/wine shop/whatever. Just go there, tell the staff you want a $12 bottle (if these are weekly parties, no sense in going broke spending $80 a month) and see what they recommend. That's all I ever do even when I want something nice. Unless you yourself are a wine snob, you shouldn't even try to play the game - just get something good-enough-not-to-attract-attention.

If you bake well, you might want to switch to baking - but only if you bake well. In normal social circles, cake-that-tastes-good is always "cake, hooray!" but in snob circles you'd probably have to produce fancy things. I'd bake rather than bring wine because I like experimenting with baking, but only for that reason.

At real adult parties among soul-possessing humans, of course, gifts are optional and never sneered at. When I host a party, I host a party to see my friends and give them a nice time, not to stock up my wine cabinet....And nothing strikes me as more crass, selfish and trashy than to count up the price of someone's gift.

A caveat: you've been to parties with these people. Do you know them well enough to feel like they're actually pretty nice and you're surprised about this situation? If so, then this whole conversation your husband overheard was probably just two young people in a competitive environment trying to out-snob each other and doesn't really mean anything - just the same kind of silliness people get into in high school. Which is sad in a milieu where folks are supposedly being formed as scholars, but it does happen.
posted by Frowner at 6:38 AM on June 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


When I was in grad school and both went to and hosted dinner parties cheap wine was pretty standard. Although it did depend somewhat on the occasion, if it was a party at someones house it was usually all people who knew each other very well we would all bring, and usually drink cheap wine from Trader Joes. Some people who were known to be on tighter budgets wouldn't bring anything, and as far as I know no one thought badly of them.

However a lot of stuff like this is being able to read the room so to speak and if there was a fancier party, say at a professors house people would bring nicer wine more as a gift than to be drunk that night.

In this case because its your husbands friends/school function, I think you need to put the onus on him for reading the room and figuring out what is appropriate and if he's failed to do so its not your problem and you shouldn't be embarrassed.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 6:43 AM on June 15, 2013


If it really bothers your husband why would you even pick this as a battle to fight? It's a bottle of wine for goodness sake. He is not asking you for some great compromise on your fundamental morality. Get the nice bottle of wine as a host/hostess gift and drink the cheap stuff at home.

By the way, if it was your spouse who came here asking the same question from his POV I would be saying the same thing. Is a bottle of wine worth stressing your relationship? I cannot possibly see why it should.
posted by teamnap at 6:50 AM on June 15, 2013


My personal opinion is that nobody is acting badly here.

YOU: As people have generally agreed in the thread, your internal norm about dinner parties: ("When I host parties at my place, I NEVER expect anyone to bring ANYTHING and if anyone does it's just a pleasant surprise,") is not really standard; more common is the norm that you're expected to bring something, like a bottle of wine. I know social circles where three-buck chuck is fine, and social circles where that would be slightly weird, and the latter does not consist entirely of insufferable snobs.

YOUR HUSBAND: He feels embarrassed and he told you the problem and now it's being handled differently. Sounds reasonable to me. HE obviously doesn't think you're trashy or embarrassing; he just wants you guys to conform to the norm of your social group. It seems like you think that norm is stupid. It's still perfectly reasonable for him to want to conform to it whether or not that's true. And whether or not it's stupid, it's pretty common.

THE GRAD STUDENTS: This is the tricky part because it depends on the accuracy of your husband's reporting. If they are actually spending a lot of time (or, really, any time) looking down on people who drink Trader Joe's wine, that's pretty snobbish and annoying. But given the rarity of that attitude, and the level of anxiety your husband has about this issue, it seems to me a lot more likely that he heard one or two more innocent remarks and has blown it up into a story where his dissertation committee is essentially calling you guys trashy behind your back. It would be far from the least crazy/anxious thing I've heard a grad student say about their dissertation committee.

SUMMARY: You didn't do anything bad. You might have violated a fairly common social norm which you didn't know about, but now do. My guess is that the graduate students are probably not evil snobs and you and your husband should both go to their parties in the future, but your husband should be in charge of picking the wine so that he can work through his anxiety about it without involving you.
posted by escabeche at 6:51 AM on June 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Your husband is hugely anxious about class and it's manifesting as him blaming you.

I'd actually want to know a little bit more context on the school. East coast or west coast? Private school or public? If it's a private school on the east coast, people are more likely to care about stuff like that, in which case they may just be your (husband's) cross to bear. On the west coast and at public schools, the kind of assholery practiced by the "harrumph they're just not SPENDING enough" whisper campaign brigade is less tolerated, thank god.

In either case, though, you should strive mightily to avoid that clique. It's just, well, harder to do so back east.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:07 AM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think your husband has some anxious about his class and fitting in with these people that's manifesting in an ugly way and he's taking it out on you. Not cool.

If he wasn't okay with the $5 bottle of wine, he should have spoken up the first time you suggested bringing it. Not after you both had given it as a host/hostess gift repeatedly. It sounds like he had no problem with it until he heard his fellow grad students gossiping about other people and panicked they might feel the same way about the two of you.

Don't let him make you feel embarrassed or guilty about this. If his "friends" are wine snobs, bring anything but wine.
posted by inertia at 9:17 AM on June 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I spent much too much on wine, and a lot of other things, in grad school. I'd like to go back now and have a talk with that girl and say, "FYI, you appear not to have noticed but you're actually kind of poor and might want to start budgeting accordingly."

I find it totally understandable that your husband would want to bring more expensive wines to parties if that's the norm, and especially if that level of snobbery is actually going on. And that's fine. But I don't think you should feel you've done anything wrong.
posted by gerstle at 9:23 AM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, there are grad students and there are grad students. The 23 year old masters student is going to be more okay with $7 wine than the 35 year old married doctoral student.

That said, when I was in grad school in the midwest, my fellow students felt obliged to make disparaging remarks about various sorts of class marker things. When it came to things like wine I, by dumb luck of having grown up in wine & goat cheese region, knew more about than they, so I KNEW they were just doing it to try to be snobbier than thou. I got a lecture on how the rotten goat cheese we were eating was actually very nice, but I didn't have a refined enough palate to appreciate it- hilarious! A more social-class-insecure group of people I have never hung out with, before or since.

I don't know what the whole context is, though- if you don't ever host dinners and then when you do, you only bring $5 wine, that would be a faux pas. Everyone else is right, though- this is your husband's problem, and he's trying to make it your problem.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:27 AM on June 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


One west coast solution, for whatever it's worth, is to bring a growler of your best homebrew (or something equivalent) and let the haters go hang.

But this is your husband's problem, primarily, not yours.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:52 AM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bringing a dirt cheap bottle of wine isn't really a very appropriate gift for an adult without regard to whether it tastes good or not. The gift is a symbol, and giving someone a $3 gift is not good symbolism.

I disagree with this incredibly strongly. If the OP and her husband didn't drink, and brought a $4 bottle of fancy sparkling lemonade, would that have been trashy?

However, I will say this: if these are people he depends on for his career success, then it doesn't matter if they're a bunch of declasse weirdos or not, they have to be catered to. And since he is the one who understands their expectations, he can buy the wine from now on.
posted by KathrynT at 10:25 AM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The issue here is your husband's behaviour. If he was actually upset this whole time that you've been bringing cheap wine to parties, then he is clearly in the wrong because the whole thing could have been solved if he had just opened his mouth and told you that he thought the two of you should bring a more expensive bottle.

However, to me its sounds like he didn't notice or care about the wine at the time, but then he overheard people gossiping about it...and felt stupid and insecure. So instead of realizing those people are dicks, he instead felt ashamed, and then transferred those feelings into blame that he's putting on you.

Either way he's in the wrong and should apologize. I'm sorry you're going through this right now. (And for the record, there is nothing wrong with bringing TJ's wine to grad school parties. You're not visiting the White House.)
posted by barnoley at 10:25 AM on June 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, if these people are actually so snobbish about wine that they couldn't even conceive of going into the Trader Joe's wine section without getting the vapors, how would they even know how much the wine you're bringing costs? Not to mention that TJ's has a wide selection of "acceptably" priced $15+ wine. It would be a bit paranoid to assume that the people at these parties automatically know or are looking up how much the wine you're bringing costs and are looking down at you for it.

That being said, I hope you're vetting the wine before you bring them to parties. As a $5 Trader Joe's wine aficionado, I have to say that when their cheap wine is bad, it's really bad.

Your husband does not come off in the best light in this instance. Seriously, he's fine with you bringing host gifts to parties full of his friends until he becomes convinced that you've committed some sort of faux pas and wants to get on your case for it? For a party full of grad students, a delicious bottle of wine is a more than acceptable host gift irregardless of its cost. If he has class anxiety about not fitting in with the rest of his cohort (who sound as if they might have financial means beyond stipends), taking it out on you is not the answer.
posted by fox problems at 10:33 AM on June 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Your husband handled this very poorly and your opinions about what constitutes a socially appropriate hostess gift when visiting the faculty and colleagues of your husband is also not quite in line with social norms and traditions. Yes, it's grad school and some of the gatherings may be on the informal side, but a $4-6 dollar bottle of wine as a hostess gift is enough out of line with social norms to raise eyebrows. Your class origins are not a factor. Growing up rich doesn't mean that you grew up in a world where social propriety and etiquette were being emphasized.

Your husband ought to examine how he could have dealt with this better (be in charge of wine himself, address this earlier before it became a thing, approach you more nicely) and you may want to consider studying up on etiquette since you probably have many years of somewhat political social events ahead of you if your hubby stays in academia or in the top tiers of business.

Put this behind you and don't refuse to socialize with your husband's colleagues. You could do real damage to his social standing in the group. Yes, they have been petty and rude, but that's more of an issue of their behavior being outside of what's acceptable. Everyone in the situation can adjust and do better. You brought a carnation when you should have brought a bouquet. Fine. Now you know.
posted by quince at 10:51 AM on June 15, 2013


For a grad student to bring a bottle of inexpensive wine to a party is not an embarrassment. Well, Thunderbird would be, but something from TJ's that you've had and enjoyed is fine. I really don't enjoy wine snobbery, but people are into being pretentious about wine, so I often bring organic wine, just to counter the wine snobbery with organic snobbery. My other option is to bring sparkling wine - there are pleasant options for 10 - 15, and it's always festive. I've had parties when I was pretty broke where people drank every drop of wine in the house, and didn't bring any; you have kindly brought some wine.

Your husband must have been uncomfortable and embarrassed to hear a few awful people being jerks, and took his mortification out on you. Please reassure him that you and he are terrific people who don't indulge in mean gossip, who are generous as well as frugal. Forgive him for picking on you, let him choose the next bottle of wine or bring flowers instead, and accompany him to parties. The jerks are almost certainly a tiny minority; please don't let them spoil your fun.
posted by theora55 at 11:02 AM on June 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know what? Don't bring wine. Bring freshly steamed asparagus. These things never have enough green vegetables. Want to fancy up the asparagus? Bring a fresh lemon & squeeze it over the asparagus.

I have never left a party with leftover asparagus.
posted by amtho at 12:09 PM on June 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think you were right-- on several levels.

In a fluid social situation such as grad school, I think it is very important to be aware of the implicit norms of your group so that when you violate them, you do it deliberately as the occasion demands rather than risking finding yourself excluded or shunned, and having to flail around anxiously for possible reasons when you've merely violated some silly rule you weren't aware of.

But when your husband discovered that the two of you had been violating such a rule, which was a stroke of fortune (assuming the two other students hadn't meant for him to overhear), he didn't bring the prize home for the two of you to laugh about, strategize over, and bond over, he chose instead to separate himself from you, join with the contemptuous little snobs, and attempted to make you the scapegoat.

If he happens to have a history of being bullied, I would put this down to the panicked scramble to deflect attacks toward any other victim that bullied people often learn to do almost reflexively-- or it could point to deeper problems in your marriage, such as a repressed feeling on his part that you are beneath him somehow.

By contrast, when your husband came home and attacked you in a way I would have found deeply humiliating, you responded by blaming the wine snobs and getting angry with them rather than accusing your husband of essentially betraying you, which I think you had grounds to do.

I would say you shouldn't let this go or paper it over, and ought to avail yourselves of counseling if you are not able to completely resolve it on your own.
posted by jamjam at 12:45 PM on June 15, 2013 [13 favorites]


Um, living on a $17k stipend and bringing a $20 'hostess gift' would just be really weird. Maybe if you're going to a prof's house. But hanging out with friends, often because it's too expensive to go to a bar or restaurant? Bring the $8-10 thoughtful contribution.
posted by barnone at 3:24 PM on June 15, 2013


So, coming from something like "old money" (the money's from the UK, though I live on the west coast of the US), I can tell you in the circles I used to run in that people demonstrate their social class by being totally classy. Talking about how much a bottle of wine costs is really unbelievably gauche (I sound like an asshole, but there it is). There seems to be a lot of class fear going on here, since only the very recently impoverished would snark about the price of a gift. If you want to return the nasty favor they've done you, compliment something next time you go to a party of theirs. A cut of meat, a nice couch, whatever. When they inevitably tell you how much it costs, look a little ingratiating and say "Well! That's certainly nice!", with that little smile you'd give a child bragging about how their dolly was really the best one in the shop.

I don't actually recommend fighting fire with asshole fire, though. If your husband is so concerned with how you're viewed as cheap at these parties (and seriously!? GRADUATE STUDENTS? C'mon), he can pick out the gifts and play their nouveau riche games alone. Let him know that you'll support him in making connections with his cohort, but not to your own emotional detriment.
posted by zinful at 5:23 PM on June 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


All the grad students I know are flat broke and miles in debt, so this sounds ridiculous.

Also: work on communication with husband, and find less awful friends!
posted by ead at 5:52 PM on June 15, 2013


Take flowers. Take an odd number and tell the hosts that's the tradition in Northern Europe.
posted by syncope at 6:43 PM on June 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I hate wine. It's not that I haven't had good stuff - I've had good friends who grew up on wineries give me a taste of this or that over the years, and I haven't yet found one that tasted even remotely decent to me. I realize I'm not of the cultural norm, but at the same time, I don't bring wines to parties, because how weird would it be to bring something and then not drink it if it were offered to me?

So.

If - and this is a very big if, because I'd be super pissed at my husband and telling him to do his own damn shopping at this point too - you feel like being supportive to your husband in the future, I would suggest taking lovely flowers - roses, gerberas, something like that - or a dessert from a lovely bakery you've found in town instead. Just bow out of the wine game altogether.

Others are right that this is a screwed up social situation you're in, because to a certain extent he does have to make an effort to make nice with these rude people, but I would try to stay above their games as much as possible.
posted by RogueTech at 8:09 PM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm a bit of a wine snob. I admit it.

I would NEVER say anything to anyone about a gift someone brought to my home. Not a bottle of Chuck, not a bottle of Yellowtail, not a bottle of anything. Incredibly crass.

The fact that people are talking about PRICE is, to me, the real issue. I can walk into any wine shop in the US and walk out with a delicious bottle under $10 that isn't mass market stuff. Because I know wine. I can buy that $10 bottle or that $100 bottle with confidence. There's an awful lot of plonk out there in these prices points too. Most people wouldn't know the difference. Those that know wine often can tell the difference between a $10-15 wine and a $40 bottle - there are huge differences in the way the wines are produced and when you're the sort to really learn about those differences you recognize them. But it doesn't sound like these people are the kind who REALLY know wine. They sound like wannabes to me.

Your husband handled this abysmally. If he was concerned he should have addressed this sooner by either asking you straight out to up the budget for a wine with a kind reasoning or just handled it himself.

Should you decide that you want to take another stab at this, and I wouldn't blame you if you stayed far, far away from these pretentious climbers... consider dropping into your local bottle shop and asking for a $15 bottle from Spain. La Rioja Ciranza, Ribera del Duero, Bierzo, etc. all will deliver a great deal of value and will likely be outside the norm enough that those d-bags will coo over it.

YMMV, feel free to contact me via MeMail. Sorry you went through this.
posted by FlamingBore at 9:23 AM on June 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Your husband needs to take responsibility for managing his own collegial relationships and his own identity in this group and stop blaming other people when he is passive about it.
posted by desuetude at 10:39 AM on June 16, 2013


You guys are both right. You're right that people who say that kind of thing about their guests are kinda shitty, and that the price of the wine is often unrelated to its quality.

But the idea that your husband is just supposed to top associating with these people is a little unreasonable. These are his colleagues, he's going to be interacting with them professionally for his entire career, and maintaining good relations with them is an essential part of that career. He can't just tell them all to fuck off, and I would strongly advise you to reconsider your refusal to accompany him to these parties in the future.

Now, was he a little over the top in how he brought this to you? Absolutely. But it's easy to see why. It's right there in your question:

Since unlike him, I grew up in a rich family, I just don't care about looking cheap since I “already know what class I am." (Which is true about where I grew up, but in my mind quite irrelevant since I'm not on my parent's dole anymore and we and all these people have pretty much the exact same income!)

Your husband is trying to tell you that this is activating a very specific class anxiety in him, an anxiety that you do not share because of your different upbringings, and you are dismissing his feelings. The fact that you have the same income now is irrelevant - something about the way he grew up is making this bother him now, and that's the real problem here. That's what you two should talk about. But that conversation needs to be entered into gently, because this is likely wrapped up with a lot of shame for him.
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:26 PM on June 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Snobbish grad students are acting out their own insecurities. Bring the fancier wine if you want to do it for your husband's sake, but definitely don't do it for the sake of his idiot colleagues. (Ragged Richard is right about being gentle with your husband about this... but the other grad students sound like total dimwits, and it's totally normal to bring cheap but good wine to grad student parties.)
posted by paultopia at 9:50 PM on June 16, 2013


There are no end of "value wine" columns and lists online and in wine magazines, if your husband would like to become expert on good wines in the $10-15 category. He could apply his research skills to that. Also, a story makes it seem more interesting. If he can find a wine that has a great backstory, about the vineyard, the family, the region, even the label, it will seem as though it's a more thoughtful and impressive selection. It's all a lovely project for him.
posted by Miko at 7:03 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Way late to the party, but my workaround for this issue is to bring a more affordable wine that doesn't necessarily seem "cheap". Pick an unusual source or grape varietal. Bring something young and fun and seasonal like Beaujolais Nouveau. If you can't do that, at least pick something a dollar or two more than you'd spend on whatever you like to drink with pizza at home, and make it not scream "CHEAP SWILL". Don't pick Charles Shaw, Yellowtail, Barefoot, or anything with a novelty name or label.

If you bring a box of Target Red Blend, people will talk. If you bring a Tempranillo or a Vinho Verde from an actual vineyard that is in a real place, it will probably slide under the radar even if it cost you $8.

Nthing, though, that if this is about your husband keeping up appearances with his department, maybe he should be the one to shop for the wine.
posted by Sara C. at 7:11 PM on June 17, 2013


Just to run with the wine derail- if you have Grocery Outlet where you are, they sometimes have good wines for super cheap. Usually the wine buyer for the store's happy to tell you what's good or bad about whatever wine you're looking at.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:07 PM on June 17, 2013


wwax: "Research has shown that if you colour white wine red it suddenly tastes like berrys and plums to even the biggest wine "expert" where as the same wine left white sudden is crisp and summery. The only thing that changed is the colour. "

These were not wine experts per se. Appropriately for this question, they were students: The wine comparison test was carried out by 54 undergraduates from the Faculty of Oenology of the University of Bordeaux.
posted by Deathalicious at 11:12 PM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


First, these people kind of sound like dicks.
Second, your husband could have avoided this issue altogether by either JUST SAYING SOMETHING or buying the wine himself. Hell, if you have wine at home, he could have given them your better stuff and kept the cheap stuff for drinking (or cooking) at home.
Third, being so worried about what people think is just tiresome.
Last, you're the only one here who was in the right at all.
posted by cnc at 2:33 PM on June 26, 2013


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