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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I'm a single guy of early 1960s vintage who has aged fairly well. I occasionally receive invitations to attend winemaker dinners at a local fine restaurant, but I am reluctant to attend these alone. Is it OK to attend such an event solo?

—Steve M., Boise, Idaho

Dear Steve,

I think dining out solo is more accepted and commonplace than ever, especially now that our smartphones can keep us company. When I travel alone, I rather enjoy the opportunity to have a meal by myself. It means not having to negotiate ordering, and I enjoy sitting with a glass of wine and observing the restaurant, its staff and customers in action.

Winemaker dinners are a slightly different scenario, but I think it’s absolutely OK to attend one solo. Wine dinners tend to be multicourse affairs served with multiple wines. The food is created to pair with the wine, and the winemaker or other winery representative is present to talk about the wines being served. Typically they give some background about how the wines were made, or their impressions about how the wines are showing. Questions are usually welcome.

I’d encourage you to go to one to check it out. The only thing to keep in mind is that you probably won’t be seated by yourself at a winemaker’s dinner—you’ll be seated with strangers, and that could be fun or awkward, depending on who you are sitting with and how you feel about small talk. You might find this a way to meet future wine-loving friends in your area. Even if that doesn’t happen, I can think of dozens of terrific meals I’ve shared with strangers over the years. We may not have become best friends, but they were lovely companions for the moment.

—Dr. Vinny

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