About a year ago, I heard celebrity chef and winery owner Michael Chiarello say, "Never apologize for your food when you bring it to the table."
Somehow that phrase burned its way into my memory, but slightly twisted as my new mantra for wine: Never apologize for your wine.
That goes not only for winemakers not sure of a new batch of wine they are letting people taste for the first time, but also for a wine you purchase for a dinner or party.
With individual palates mapping clear across the board on desire for sweetness, there is no sure-fire predictor of how much someone will like your wine. If you apologize for some aspect of the wine, then that's exactly what your guest will dwell on - "Hmm, it does taste a little like smelly socks."
Let's take price, for example. I have no problem drinking the very unexciting, slightly off-dry $1.99 Tisdale Chardonnay you can find at Food-4-Less. I buy it because there are times - believe it or not - when I want to drink wine but not think about it.
I've made the mistake, however, to bring this wine to a party and brag of my skill at finding this deal, not even considering that my host may feel like he or she only rated high enough for the cheap stuff.
On the other hand, I've had situations where I brought a prized bottle over $50 and had people feel awful for casually chugging down a glass before they knew what they were drinking, and others who didn't even want to try something that could be so insanely priced.
For this Thanksgiving, I'd recommend popping the corks on a number of different bottles just before everyone arrives, set the glasses out on the table, and let the wine speak for itself as friends and family enjoy a day of abundant food and great conversation.