I came up with a simple, but surprisingly viable, way to calculate how much to spend on a bottle of wine you bring to a dinner party.
My wife and I often find ourselves in a situation where we’re headed to someone’s house for dinner or a party and realize we need to pop into a store to buy a bottle of wine. (Well, my wife realizes that. I generally say, “I’m pretty sure they won’t notice if we show up empty-handed,” then she rants for a few minutes and we stop to get the wine.)
But we, like so many others, always encounter the same dilemma: How much should we spend on a bottle of wine to bring to a party?
You don’t want to bring something too cheap; if all of the other bottles of wine at the party are fancy and you bring a jug of Carlo Rossi, that’s potentially quite embarrasing. You also don’t want to bring something too expensive because, ya know, no need to buy an 1871 Chateau Margaux if it’s just going to get poured into a giant batch of homemade moonshine sangria. Plus you don’t want to look like you’re showing off.
So I created a very simple — but really quite viable — formula to calculate how much to spend.
Wine price = The estimated annual income of the person or couple throwing the party / 10,000
Why? Because everything the hosts serve generally falls in line with what they can afford to spend (and, even more than that, what image they want to project). Your bottle of wine will correlate well using this formula — it won’t be too cheap, it won’t be too expensive.
If you think the hosts make a combined $80,000, an $8 bottle of wine fits in nicely. At $150,000, a $15 bottle of wine feels right. And if you’re going to a millionaire’s dinner party, a $100 bottle of wine should make those pretentious bastards feel right at home.
Now, this formula does require you to speculate on your friends’ income, but you secretly do that anyway — just don’t tell them that’s how you arrived at the price of the bottle.
Or do. At least then you’ll get some awkwardness out of the way before you drink all the wine you brought as a “gift.”