Hello, I need a little guidance as to how to select a decent wine when I am in Europe to bring to my hosts as I am a not drinker. Thanks for any input.
Ask the salesperson in the wine shop to help you select. Let them know what you want to spend.
And go to a wine shop, as Laura said, and not a supermarket, unless it's one with a wine shop inside.
Sally , wine is a lovely gift but you know flowers are absolutely suitable hostess gift too, at least in France.
Going to a wine shop would definitely be the way to go - just be prepared to deal with the language barrier. Not everyonen will speak English. If you're in France, you could always chose a champagne to bring. Just pick something moderately priced and you'll probably be okay. Other options would be to bring some local wine from your area in the US (assuming there's something halfway decent) or flowers. Just make sure you tell them the flowers are for a hostess gift. The florist can help prevent you from bringing funeral flowers.
"The florist can help prevent you from bringing funeral flowers." Hee hee! I made that mistake once! (P.S. --I agree with the wine advice given above!)
I just read in a book that in France, bringing wine to dinner is an insult - your host thinks you don't trust his wine selection. Then he is obliged to serve your wine, which probably doesn't go (in his opinion) with the dinner he's serving. I think the book recommended chocolates.
It's a gift, not for dinner, but Chani brings up a good point that hosts are sometimes not sure if they should show gratefulness by serving the wine with their dinner. On the other hand flowers mean the hostess has to retreat to the kitchen to cut stems and arrange flowers. Stick to chocolates!
When giving wine just tell your host/hostess that the bottle is for them to enjoy at a later date. They will then not feel obligated to serve it. Also if bringing flowers PLEASE PLEASE be sure they are already in a vase - the LAST thing your hostess needs to do is cut & arrange flowers! Arranging for flowers to be delivered earlier in the day with a card is also appropriate.
It's an etiquette minefield out there!!
Wine is tricky as a gift because so many people have specific likes and dislikes. My wife and I often get red wine as a gift and usually wind up re-gifting it (ironic). The idea to bring champagne is a good one - almost everyone likes it and it goes great with a celebration. Flowers are lovely, even if the hostess has to "cut and arrange" them for hours back in the kitchen ;-) And it's so easy to find fresh flowers in Europe. A plant is another idea; one that doesn't require arranging and won't wither and die before you even leave...
" Flowers are lovely, even if the hostess has to "cut and arrange" them for hours back in the kitchen ;-)" Clearly Douglas you have never timed out a dinner party, the 10 - 20 minutes it takes to cut and arrange flowers - at the most crucial time when you are greeting guests, taking coats, getting drinks, serving hors d'oeuvres, last minute prep & cook for the main meal - trust me - the LAST thing a hostess wants to do is arrange flowers although she will accept them and do it graciously. A good champagne is always a good choice.
10 - 20 minutes to cut and arrange flowers? Clearly I'm doing something wrong when someone brings flowers to my dinner parties... On a more serious note, I'm not sure that the OP ever mentioned going to a dinner party, just that someone was kind enough to host them while visiting and that she wished to do something kind for them.
As a hostess, I would rather have some wonderful chocolate or a nice flower bouquet any day over wine or champagne, as no one in my family drinks. We would just have to give this nice gift away. If you buy a bouquet of flowers, it should already be arranged, all you do is stick it in a vase. No time at all needs to be spent on this, other than filling up a vase with water. I sure wouldn't show up at a house with a bunch of random flowers that would need to be arranged. That sounds a bit tacky. A beautiful, unique bouquet is what you would look for.
While wine makes a lovely gift here in the states, I have several French friends that have told me that it's a faux pas to bring wine to a dinner as the host has already taken the time to choose the wine. As said above, chocolate or flowers would be a much better (and less stressful) gift.
I don't know, I have dinner parties on a regular basis and my European guests ALWAYS bring me wine. They know I like wine, it's true, but even if I tell them to bring "whatever they'd like to drink" (informal parties, obviously) they still bring a bottle of wine, then ask me where the beer is. My french friends always bring wine, and I have brought wine to my french friends' dinner parties, so it doesn't seem to me that it's neccessarily a faux pas to do so. The only time I've been lectured by a faux pas by a French person was for incorrectly cutting cheese (!) I see no problem with bringing wine. If they don't drink it (or don't like what you brought) they will inevitably be happy to regift it in the future. It's rather handy to not have to stop at the store on the way to a party because you already have a bottle you don't particularly want at home. What I would consider is bringing a bottle of decent American wine with you if you can fit it in your luggage safely. While many Europeans are (justifiably) quite proud of their wine, most have little access to or understanding of good American wine, and provided you get a decent bottle in a very American style - I'd suggest a Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley CA or the Russian River valley CA for a uniquely American wine - your hosts may be pleasantly surprised at how good these American wines can be!
I'll jump in and support Sarah here. Like her, I go to a lot of European-hosted parties. Mostly Austrian and Dutch hosts, but also Swedes, Czechs, and Brits (not to mention Mexicans, Lebanese and Aussies.) People almost uniformly show up with a bottle of wine. This is true if it's a dinner party or a party party. That having been said, I don't have a lot of French Friends. Not since that regrettable cheese cutting incident.
My advice is based off of me being the only American at a French dinner party. It might be a different story with mixed cultures, but if you're the American at the French dinner party---bring chocolates or flowers. On a funny note, I remember a girl I worked with brought Toblerone bars as her chocolate gift to one dinner party. The looks were pricless, but it was such a sweet gesture!
Ditto Sarah, except that you want to bring a good Oregon pinot! Seriously, I was tasked with bringing a good Oregon pinot to a wine tasting in Germany, and the gift was to be for the owner of the wine shop. I picked a bottle that was less than $20, but not like many others. It was a hit...I got lucky. A pinot noir(Burgandy in France)can be a fun gift for someone in the EU. They enjoy comparing it to their Burgandys, and pinot totally varies from appellation to appellation. But if in doubt you can never go wrong with flowers!
Well, I mostly socialize with people in their 20s and early 30s, and the gatherings are pretty informal, but it's still polite to bring something. Sometimes it's a matter of taste - I am often gifted with sweet white wines or German red wines that I know I don't like, but I know the host DOES like those wines, it's an easy fix. Othertimes it's just a bottle I haven't gotten around to drinking myself.