Sometime during dinner tonight, my brother raised the fact that he was looking for something to get his godparents this Christmas. Wine was his current choice; it was formal, it was classy, and it would make a good statement for a godchild who was now a manager in the insurance industry. The only question involved what kind of wine was best for the occasion, and where he could pick it up.
"Why look for wine outside?" my mother asked. "We have a lot of it here."
Fifteen minutes' rooting around one of the cabinets revealed an unlikely trove. It seemed that other people had been similarly generous with us in the past, enough to have gifted us with various bottles of wine over the years. The irony, however, was that we were a non-drinking family: My mother avoids the stuff for her health, I swear off the alcohol because I hate the taste (and because of a delicate liver condition), my brother just plain refuses it, and while my sister tries the odd drink every now and then, those are more along the lines of commercial shandy and wine coolers than anything else. Simply put, we're not a family that drinks.
Nevertheless, it turned out that we'd amassed a small collection of eleven or twelve wine bottles over the years, all as gifts, raffle prizes, and/or tokens of appreciation in some form. And these were the proceeds from a single cabinet — I'm not quite sure what else was in any of the others.
Some of the labels, in fact, were actually peeling off by the time we got to them. My mother was the first to get hold of a bottle partially wrapped in silver foil and ask me how the word "chardonnay" was pronounced, after which she asked me if wine had an expiry date. (I rolled my eyes.)
The small collection was mostly comprised of red wine, a sample of white wine (the aforementioned chardonnay), a bottle of cider, something in a foreign language that none of us could read, and a lone container of soy sauce that looked completely out of place. I was surprised at the lack of sparkling grape juice (which was an obvious alternative for a non-drinking family), only to find that we had apparently set aside a different cabinet for those. I'm afraid to find out just how many samples we have of that.
This sparked a discussion of whether or not it was okay to re-gift wine. It could be some sort of social faux pas, I think, if we wrapped up a couple of other peoples' bottles to give to a few friends. We've done it for other things, I admit — toys and small appliances for the most part — but there may be an etiquettal restriction against wine. I'm just not sure.
Complicating things further was the fact that we didn't know where any of the wine came from. I mean, this isn't the kind of thing that comes with gift tags attached.
We were certain that none of the wine had come from my brother's godparents, though, and he was quite willing to set aside a couple of bottles for the re-gifting. We were highly unlikely to use it at all, we were even less likely to have house guests for which it could be served, and we didn't exactly looking forward to setting aside the needed space for the next few years.
So now my brother's doing some research as to exactly what the best method is for re-gifting gifted wine. I mean, we're not certain if we can just drop the stuff into a plastic bag, or if we need to tuck it into a small wooden crate stuffed with straw, or if we should just tie a brightly-colored ribbon around it and present it to a lucky recipient who'd be absolutely thrilled at our good taste.
Now if they only knew the truth. And if they only wouldn't get others to give us the same gifts in return...