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The Etiquette of Drinking Wine at a Family BBQ


  • With spring finally here and summer approaching, we’re can take a peak into BBQ season, which means many of us will be planning the annual family reunion and BBQ. Summer family reunions, whether at the lake, the beach or even a park, these get-togethers are the perfect way to share a few laughs and catch up with relatives. But for many of us, family reunions also make us crave a stiff drink. How else are we going to get through the stories about Aunt Ethel’s cats, Uncle Leo’s tales about how he invented the perfect new lures for fishing, or all the questions about when we’re going to get married, have kids, find that perfect career, etc.? Yep, a drink is definitely called for.
  • When drinking at family get-togethers, we can’t forget that if we drink just a bit too much and happen to do something a little embarrassing, the family will never forget. So while we may need a drink or five in order to get through the day, it’s important to do so with some class.
  • One way to take the edge off, yet still be able to converse politely with family, is by sticking to light drinks such as a wine spritzer. The spritzer is the perfect drink in this situation because it is light enough to drink all day, with the added benefit of the water also keeping you hydrated. Another added bonus is that it’s very rare that someone becomes aggressive, or does something stupid from drinking spritzers. We don’t remember ever reading about garden party brawls, unless they were on “Dallas.”
  • If the spritzer isn’t your thing, and it’s not a problem if this is the case, be mindful of looking like the family lush. This is one of the quickest labels one can take on at a family BBQ, so avoid being the one who continues to go back to the bottle for a refill; there is nothing like the judging eyes of family to put a quick damper on the festivities, and you don’t want to be the one who is always pouring from the bottle. If you need a drink, and realize you’ve poured yourself the last one, ask someone else if they’d get you a refill. If you’re visiting the family of your in-laws, this advice is even more important. If you really need another glass, ask your significant other to pour it for you.
  • At these all-day outdoor affairs, the heat can also be an enormous factor in causing you to go from lively guest, to pass out in a pile of potato salad, so be sure that while you’re drinking wine, you’re also consuming plenty of water. We stick to the general rule of a glass of water between every glass of vino. This will keep you hydrated and has the added bonus of helping to prevent a future hangover or nasty wine headache.
  • Finally, be sure to pace yourself. When you’re at these functions, often times all the alcohol, not just the wine, is served in big plastic cups, a sure fire way to drink more than you intended. Even though it may not look like there’s a lot of wine in your cup, try to only fill it a quarter of the way. Doing this will help ensure you don’t over drink or drink too quickly and you’ll be much more aware of when you may have had just a bit too much.
  • Family BBQs can be incredibly fun affairs, but no one wants to be the family member that made a fool of him or herself. Don’t forget: the family never forgets.



By Adam Teeter, Vinepair