What does one take to a dinner party at the home of the ‘wine connoisseur’

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What does one take to a dinner party at the home of the ‘wine connoisseur’. Illustration: David Humphries for the Guardian.

So far, I’ve focused on making selections for “easy” moments involving close friends and family, but what happens when choosing the wine for a particular moment represents a challenge? Like what to take to a dinner party at the home of the “wine connoisseur”? You know the guy I mean (or girl, but probably guy), who doesn’t actually know very much about wine but will devote the entire evening to convincing you he does.

It’s easy to tell the difference between him and someone who actually knows their stuff. The “wine connoisseur” parrots back a lot of information he’s read or heard. He often employs a lot of needless decanting. The decanter is a visual prop to support a long diatribe about a particular year in Bordeaux. It doesn’t matter if you’re not interested.

He will want to tell you how he stores his wines, their exact value and about his two days in Napa following a business trip to San Francisco last year, which have made him an expert on California’s wine industry. There might even be talk of points (“this got 100 points from X” or number of bottles made (“they only made 500 bottles – you really have to know somebody to get it”.

There’s a very good chance he’s married to “the foodie”, as in “My husband and I are such foodies” which loosely translates to “Unlike you, we were able to get a reservation at Chiltern Firehouse” or “I’m not clear on what ‘organic’ actually means but the heritage tomatoes I get from Wholefoods look more expensive.”

While he probably won’t know much about how to interpret them, the “wine connoisseur” will have memorised the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855 and the Grands Crus of Burgundy, so your gift has a greater chance of being judged severely if you bring something from these regions. So I would bring him something that’s delicious but outside his comfort zone, ideally accompanied by a new titbit for him to use to impress the guests at his next dinner party.

Christian Holthausen

The Guardian, Friday 18 July 2014 07.30 EDT