Wine Soaked Guest

by admin on January 6, 2014

My husband has a very good friend, J, whom he met in college. After graduating with their bachelors, J moved back to his home state (on the east coast, we are on the west coast in same state as the college). J’s cross country move was approximately 5 to 6 years ago. Since then, both J and my husband married and have homes.

Obviously it is rare to have a visit from J, so my husband is so excited anytime they get to see each other. This holiday, J and his wife and little girl came to our state for a visit (they stayed with relatives, coming to see us for dinner, etc as we are an hour from where they were staying).  The first visit at my home was wonderful, I put out a nice display of snacks, drinks, and made lasagna. My husband was so delighted I hosted his good friend so generously.

One evening J and his wife had come over for an informal movie in our living room, once again I laid out snacks, as it was after dinner time. I forgot to take the soda out, so my husband, says, “We have water, this soda, that soda, iced tea, or juice.”  J takes a soda. Wife hems and haws, then walks over to my husband at the fridge and spies my wine (this was a gift from my friend to me) and says, “Oooo, wine! I’ll take that!” Husband looks at me, but I was so shocked at a guest asking for something that I felt like I had to okay it, or I would be seen as a bad hostess. So my husband fetches the wine opener, she takes it from him and opens. Then pours herself a glass. .. that would be considered two glasses at a restaurant. Ok… That was rude. Nothing to be done though, I did allow a glass.

Movie is on, then she says, “Mmmm, this is good,” while walking towards the bathroom (and that is also the direction of the kitchen), “I’m totally having more of this!” Swoops past bathroom, opens fridge again and pours another gigantic glass. At this point I pinched my husband hard, as he looked at J’s wife in shock at her blatant rudeness. Hubby says, “Wow, you should stick to water now or you might not remember the movie. ”

Well, he tried. I was at a loss because J is hubby’s very good friend and I’m afraid of offending him. ..shouldn’t he have noticed his wife mooching?
Movie is 2/3 way through, and J’s wife gets up, which I think is to pet my cat who is sitting in the kitchen. She does pet the cat for a while, but then opens the fridge, pours THE REMAINING WINE into her glass. I say, “Is that all gone? Are you serious?? That’s.. just.. crazy…” I don’t get to finish because she hugs me and exclaims, “I love you! You are so pretty, and nice. And you work so hard.”   Ugh, now this girl is giddy drunk off my wine. I knew I was ready to rip her a new belly button so I said I have a very early client, thank you for coming, I’m going to bed, hubby will be here.

The next day, my husband felt very bad. He said he was in shock at her behavior and didn’t know why J didn’t handle her, like he has in the past (so apparently this is not an isolated incident of taking advantage). He said he didn’t want to ruin their trip, that he never sees J, and that the wife won’t be visiting again this trip. I know it is only a bottle of wine, but how rude is that! I would never impose such a thing onto a host, and then to help oneself to an entire bottle of wine! Once again, it’s just… crazy! Did I make a mistake even allowing her a glass? I never would have dreamed she would help herself after that, or I never would have approved in the first place. My husband’s only idea as to why she thought this was okay was that in college, J and he would help themselves to each other’s fridges. Yeah, in a bachelor pad over 5 years ago. Is that a valid excuse? I personally don’t think so. What could I have said that would have been a polite way to have handled the situation? I.e. What does a polite spined person do here? 0104-14

Js wife was inexcusably rude and presumptuous to first decline the offered choices in beverages, to ask for wine and then to be a pig about drinking all of it.   Had I been in your shoes, I would have told her the truth, “This bottle was a gift from a friend and it is being saved for a special occasion.  Would you like a Pepsi instead?”

It is not the host’s obligation to cater to every whim and desire of guests.  Your hospitality was flawless and generous but unfortunately you came head to head with a greedy, inconsiderate, selfish guest who could not take the hints being given by her hosts that her behavior was a tad over the top.   Now you know to hide the good stuff whenever they come again.

{ 177 comments… read them below or add one }

kingsrings January 8, 2014 at 3:48 pm

I totally agree with the Admin. It is quite rude to take a food or drink item that isn’t offered to you when you’re a guest in someone’s home. And it’s rude to take all of something, too.

Something similar happened recently at a friend’s house. She has a large house with a bar area upstairs and has frequent parties. In the past, she’s left out all of the alcohol and mixers sitting out on the bar counters. I guess one time recently, a guest helped themselves to an expensive bottle of Scotch! They drank the whole thing. I believe they may have gotten it from the little fridge and pantry that’s located next to the bar. Perhaps they noticed the bar was out of Scotch, and went looking for some more and came across it in the pantry? Still not good of them to consume of something that wasn’t already on the counters, though. At her last party, she had a bartender behind the bar so that it wouldn’t happen again.

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Tracy January 8, 2014 at 4:22 pm

rap said: “Take the cake example. Everyone’s had a piece… does the host wrap up the rest and put it away? Or allow guests who want seconds to have at it? If not everyone wants a second piece, is it wrong of a guest to go for it?”

We’re not talking about a second piece. We’re talking about one person eating the entire cake. You don’t consume an entire multi-serving dish or bottle at someone else’s house simply because you don’t have to fight anyone else over it.

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Amanda H. January 8, 2014 at 6:09 pm

I’m with Admin in that the perception of the relationship doesn’t matter. If your host hasn’t given you express permission to literally help yourself to something, then you don’t help yourself to it.

At my in-laws’ house, food in the fridge that doesn’t have a name on it is fair game, but this is part of the express rules of the house (as in it was actually spelled out to me that I can help myself to anything in the fridge that hasn’t had a name written on it somewhere to claim it), and I learned that if I had something in the fridge I wanted to save for myself (restaurant leftovers, for instance), I would need to actually put my name on it. Even then, I don’t take the last of a given beverage or food item without first making sure that no one else wants it. I don’t just assume that because no one else has gone for it that no one wants it. Sometimes people don’t realize just how little is left, or plan to have some later. So I ask. All it takes is a simple “Hey, does anyone else want the last of the pie/soda/lasagna/whatever?” The exception is when I’ve been told by my MIL that something was bought specifically for me and I’m free to finish it off (a certain type of soda, for instance; since I don’t care much for the caffeinated ones that the rest of Hubby’s family drinks, MIL usually buys me a case of root beer to make up for it). This is where J’s wife really failed in my opinion. She neglected to make sure that no one else wanted the wine (whether at that moment or saving it for later), *especially* since she had not been told “Help yourself” or given any other indication that more than a single glass was acceptable in this instance.

In my own family, in contrast to my in-laws’ family, one asks before having something they haven’t put in the fridge or pantry themselves, and one certainly doesn’t finish it all off without, again, making sure someone else wants some saved. Even though I know when visiting my parents, I’d be more than welcome to raid the fridge and the pantry whenever I feel peckish, I always ask if I can have something before I help myself. I never know when my mom might be saving something. Even at close family parties when there’s soda out expressly for the guests to drink, I ask if anyone else wants some if I’m about to finish off a bottle (especially if I’ve been the one drinking most of it that night). I would assume the same would apply with wine (my family doesn’t drink alcohol, ever).

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Rap January 8, 2014 at 6:11 pm

Tracy – an entire standard bottle of wine (the “regular size” like what’s brought to you in a restaurant, not the big bottles) has about four servings in it when poured into chardonnay goblets half full. People are adomishing J in part not because she drank it all, but that she dared go back for a second glass at all without expressly stating “Op may I have another glass”. I agree that J shouldn’t have asked for the wine and that she was rude to request it… but once the bottle is open, the host is conceding that the item is there to be consumed by guests. If no one else is drinking, but has opportunity to, is the OP polite in saying “Hey J, one glass only until the rest of us get some and since we’re not drinking, you’re done”? The bottle was opened and therefore meant to be drunk, and people can say it’s sneaky but I see nothing sneaky or stealthy about how the OP describes J getting another drink by announcing “I think I’ll have another” as she heads into the kitchen. Also, in regards to the surreptious nature of her drinking, really, how sneaky is it to have the only wineglass? I think the accusations of alcoholism and sneaky behavior edge to the out of line when as described, Op knew very well that J was getting more more wine. If annoucing you’re going to have another glass is “sneaky” and “covering up” then I hate think what actually hiding booze would be.

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Angel January 8, 2014 at 10:06 pm

I guess that if I’m inviting someone over to my house I really don’t mind all that much if they go in my fridge. To me a fridge is fair game, at least if I’m hosting. Now if I’m at someone else’s house I will typically wait until drinks are offered, but, if I don’t see a cooler or drinks out, generally I will go in the fridge if I’m there for a party. I would assume that’s where the drinks are.

The point I’m trying to make is that people have different ideas of what constitutes being a gracious host. Personally I think that if it was such a big deal to the OP, she would have said no that bottle I am saving, but if you want wine, I have some yellow tail. It sounds like she and probably her hubby just wanted to complain about it afterwards. And to me that just sucks all the fun out of hosting. Why do something you don’t want to do only to resent it later?

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lkb January 9, 2014 at 6:33 am

Angel said, “I guess that if I’m inviting someone over to my house I really don’t mind all that much if they go in my fridge. To me a fridge is fair game, at least if I’m hosting. Now if I’m at someone else’s house I will typically wait until drinks are offered, but, if I don’t see a cooler or drinks out, generally I will go in the fridge if I’m there for a party. I would assume that’s where the drinks are. ”

I’m floored at this. (Number one, it makes me paranoid. Now I have to deep clean my fridge before a party? I’d hate for my guests to see the ‘science projects’ that sometimes happen there. ;) )And, if my guests feel free to help themselves to the contents of my fridge, where exactly do I hide the ‘good stuff’ that needs to be chilled but is not intended for the guests at this particular she-bang?

Also, to go into a fridge at a party or otherwise without even a preliminary, “May I have something to drink?” or, “I see Joe/Betty has a Coke, may I have one?” or ” Are the beverages here in the fridge?” or “Psst, hey Joe/Betty, where are the beverages?” (if I don’t see the hosts to ask them directly), seems beyond the pale, at least in my world. For just the reasons stated earlier in this post.

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Abby January 9, 2014 at 8:28 am

@ Hakayama-

“Right down to the mostly overlooked, but significant details of how Mrs. J covered up her refilling trips to the fridge, and how carefully kept the wine out of reach of the rest of the gathering.”

What are you talking about?? What part did you read that indicated that was she “covering up” her intentions? When she loudly announced, “I’m TOTALLY having more of this!”??

OP only *thought* that J’s wife was going into the kitchen to pet the cat. J’s wife did not say, hey I’m going into your kitchen, but only to pet the cat, it’s certainly not to knock back the remaining wine or anything.

And by the way, if she was trying to cover it up, coming back with a full wineglass kind of blew her cover. As far “carefully keeping the wine out of reach” the story doesn’t specify, but I got the impression OP or her husband put the wine back in the fridge, probably in the hopes J’s wife would not take any more.

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Rap January 9, 2014 at 9:02 am

IKB – I think it depends on the guests and comfort levels. I have friends who have no problem with “Beer is in the fridge, help yourself” – and I have friends who I know just by how they are that its not ok if I rifle thru their fridge.

Abby – I agree with you. The OP was keeping the wine in the fridge to begin with so J was not sneakily keeping the wine from others “out of reach” by also putting it in the fridge

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Tracy January 9, 2014 at 11:16 am

Rap, I don’t know if your entire post was in response to me, but if it was, I didn’t say anything about the guest being an alcoholic. That’s a judgment I wouldn’t make based on one evening of drinking, no matter how many glasses she had. I was simply saying that one person shouldn’t drink an entire bottle of wine, just as one person shouldn’t eat an entire cake, simply because no one else is fighting them for it or hiding it from them (which is quite different from the scenario you gave, where everyone has a slice and then you have to decide whether it’s appropriate to go for seconds).

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Lkb January 9, 2014 at 10:32 pm

Rap: I understand what you mean about comfort levels, but even in the mostcasual of gatherings, the host should be the one initiating, “Beer’s in the fridge…” rather than the guest rummaging arounduninvited.

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kingsrings January 10, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Angel – whoa, really? Unless I know for sure that I’m allowed to go into the fridge at a host’s house, I would never do that. And I wouldn’t like it if a guest did that at my house. The fridge and it’s contents are a host’s personal property, and you shouldn’t go in there without permission first. I wouldn’t think I would have to state that, either. A host really shouldn’t have to lock the fridge or put “don’t touch” signs on food/drinks items in order to keep presumptuous guests out of it.

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Rap January 10, 2014 at 8:38 pm

Tracey – I get you, and I didn’t think you were making the alcoholism complaint. My point is that whether or not it was rude of J to ask for the wine, once it was established that yes, the wine could be drunk, she doesn’t have to ask permission each time she goes back for a glass. The wine was made available – I don’t insist or want my guests to continually ask permission to get a glass of wine or soda or whatever. The hostess was extending hospitality. She didn’t have to allow J to have the wine, but once she did extend her hospitality to include the wine, J can have the wine. It might be rude of J to finish off the wine – I remember the “never eat or drink the last bit” rule at house parties too – but people are acting like J needed express verbal permission to get another glass of wine.

Lkb – I just don’t see it as uninvited rummaging in the fridge. OP said she could have the wine, and the wine was in the fridge. If it was soda pop she was refilling, once OP said it was ok to have soda pop, is J rummaging uninvited in the fridge if she gets another glass?.

Part of my disconnect is that I was raised with the idea that you didn’t bank on leftovers from a houseparty. If something was off limits, it was off limits to the guests and yes, sometimes that meant the “good wine” was put in the linen closet for the duration of the party rather than have the awkward moment of telling a guest no

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Anonymous January 11, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Okay, so, J’s wife made a New Year’s Resolution to cut down on her drinking, right? Well, is it ever polite to deny someone something, under the guise of “helping them with their New Year’s Resolution?” For example, “J’s Wife, I know you made a resolution to cut back on drinking, so that’s why I got the Diet Coke with Lime that I know you like. Here, have a can of that.” I mean, normally, this might be overstepping, but in early January, when people have literally JUST made resolutions, is it still overstepping? Or, what if you had a friend who’d recently decided to go on a diet, and you had that friend over for dinner, and the friend saw ice cream in the freezer, and wanted some for dessert, but you’d planned on fruit salad for dessert, because you knew that your friend had just started a diet? Would it then be rude to say that you’d planned on the fruit salad for dessert, because Friend told you about wanting to eat healthier, and what a great idea, because you could stand to eat healthier too? It’s not about treating adults like children; it’s more about helping friends honour their commitments to themselves, even when it’s hard.

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Lkb January 11, 2014 at 10:17 pm

@ Rap: My comments 163 & 159 were not about tbe original post but responses to other comments in this thread.

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Jinx January 12, 2014 at 11:23 am

@Anonymous: I’m iffy on helping people with resolutions. It can be okay, as long as you aren’t announcing it/calling them out.

For example: if it were me, and I were trying to eat healthier and lose weight, and I were at a dinner party at a friend’s house; I would prefer my friend to say. “I found this great healthy recipe that I’m excited to try out with you guys”. If instead my friend said, “Jinx is trying to lose weight so I made this”, I may try to murder someone. I think it’s okay to aid people with their resolutions, but ultimately people need to be in control of their own choices and their own business.

Regardless, if you’ve planned on fruit salad for dessert, serve it. You don’t even have to say why. If you’ve prepared any meal for guests, the plan is for them to eat it, regardless of whatever else is in the house. If I’ve slaved over a roast, I’d be pretty offended if someone said they’re rather have some of the hot dogs they spied in my fridge.

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Reboot January 13, 2014 at 2:02 am

I can’t fathom this idea that not offering alcohol at a gathering is somehow a faux pas. I can’t drink due to interactions with three of my medications, my girlfriend can’t drink due to interactions with four of her medications, and my boyfriend dislikes alcohol on principle. We don’t keep it in the house. When we have friends over, they’re welcome to whatever drinks they like from our fridge selection; why is that somehow ruder than not offering them alcohol that we have no idea how to evaluate for quality?

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Anonymous January 13, 2014 at 9:13 am

@Jinx–Good point. I was thinking more along the lines of a situation where the (hypothetical) dieting friend was being as insistent as J’s wife was being in the OP. Maybe my example isn’t that good, because fruit salad and ice cream could plausibly go together, if the ice cream was either vanilla, or some kind of fruit flavour. Also, I wasn’t talking about announcing one guest’s resolution to the whole party, but just saying it privately to that one person, but that might not be possible if everyone was in the kitchen together. Actually, now that I think about it, this is why the “seat guests first, then serve them” method that I was brought up with, is so effective–that way, the guests see what’s available, and they choose from those options, and it’s still polite, because of COURSE the hosts are doing it in the interest of letting the guests get on with the visit/movie/whatever, while they get everything organized.

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Snowy January 13, 2014 at 12:55 pm

I used to just roll over for things like this, and then be resentful afterwards. Now I intervene and say, “Oh! I’m sorry, that bottle is already spoken for. Can I get you something else instead?”

And then while they’re watching the movie, move the bottle of wine to another room.

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Yet Another Laura January 22, 2014 at 2:03 pm

I like this solution a lot. You’re not explaining, just telling them it’s not available and offering something else.

I’ve had wine in my house that was intended to be a gift for someone else and finding it gone would not make my day. Especially if I’m having company on Saturday and the gift was to be given on Sunday. My state doesn’t sell wine on Sundays and thus, replacing it wouldn’t be possible.

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Skalr January 15, 2014 at 8:14 am

Get over it, it’s just a bottle of wine. Don’t let it turn you into a stingy, regretful host.

Why would you be mad when a guest asks for wine (or makes any request)? If you don’t want to share your “special” wine, just say so. Oh, but then you might be (rightfully) perceived as stingy. So you say yes and then become angry at your guest (“I’m not stingy, they’re greedy!”). You sound like so much fun to be around. Snacks and beverages (including adult beverages) are generally expected for even a small gathering. Prepare accordingly or don’t be a host.

More importantly, learn how to be a gracious host, how to truly open your home to guests, and how to say no without feeling guilty. Learn when to say no. Is it a reasonable request? Then say yes, even if it requires you to give more than you intended. Unreasonable or rude? Then feel free to say no.

As for the guest, consider bringing a bottle of wine (or two) next time.

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Skalr January 15, 2014 at 8:24 am

@Reboot

Not offering alcohol is not a faux pas. We all have friends who do not keep alcohol around for whatever reason, and we soon learn not to expect it when there. I myself do not drink but I do make sure to have it on hand when I have guest who do.

The issue here, however, is that the host does drink and does have alcohol in the house. In that case, refusing to share with your guests when asked is unseemly.

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