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Dear Dr. Vinny,
If someone brings me a mediocre bottle of wine, am I obligated to open it and serve it?
—Hal G., New York
No, you're not obligated to open it—a host's gift is a gift for the host—but you might be hurting someone's feelings if you don't. If you're handed a bottle you're not keen on, just say, "I've already picked out some wines that I wanted to share with you. I'll put this in the cellar to enjoy later." Or you could point out that you've selected wines to pair specifically with the food you're serving. If they seem like they still want you open it, you can simply open it and feign interest. Small pours. And always write a thank-you note.
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