Offline Etiquette

Hi everyone,

I’m fairly new to the forums, but it seems like a pretty good community of folks and the offline events that I see discussed look like a lot of fun. Having never been to an OL wine event (other than some informal tastings with a few friends), I wanted to find out if there were any standard rules of etiquette for these things. Glancing through the OL forum, there don’t appear to be as many OL events held in my area (Tampa) as some other cities, but I’d love to not embarrass myself any more than absolutely necessary (or worse yet, not get invited back) when I do make it to one.

I found this thread from a couple of years ago, but was curious to get some of the other members’ perspectives:

Edit: I somehow overlooked this thread, which covers a lot of the basics:

In my opinion the 2 main rules to follow.
1.) bring a wine that follows the theme and step up if need be.
2.) take small pours so the bottle makes it around the table and no one get the dregs.

Eastern European hookers, lots of them.

Don’t throw up in the water pitcher.

Don’t fall asleep on the couch when the webcam is on you.


I have friends in your area. Their idea of wine includes 7-up, but they will bring wine to an alligator BBQ, then drink all your beer. You need to find people in you area with like interests, then find a reason to have an offline.

Tex, can you cook gator?

Find a theme: Rhone varietals/challenge, 100 point wines, BBQ wines, best of Spain, etc., get a road kill gator and a decent place to hold the event. Drink lots of water and spit when you can. Remember, everybody has a camera in their phone. You can’t get away with anything and don’t want to be the featured faux pas.

I remember my first offline. I didn’t know anyone. I brought a wine that fit the theme, but it didn’t hold a candle to the wine that was brought by the other 5 people. The wine was an '99 ACV Reserve Cab. On it’s own, it would have been wonderful; but with the types of people that attend these offlines, it was good, but not good enough. Funny thing is that I thought I stepped up. Lesson learned.

My motto was, and still is, if I want to continue attending these offlines, I can’t be thought of as a guy that cheaps out.

Welcome to the board Nicholas.

And to add to everyone’s comments so far. The important thing to not overlook is we all want to get together and share wine with other winos who love to share wine with folks with common interests. Do not get intimidated if you bring the wine at the bottom of the list, at your first off-line. What is more important is meeting people who want to talk and taste wine.
I’ve been in tasting groups in multiple cities, and what I’ve found is most everyone is accepting of new members. Don’t be intimidated, but pay attention, and learn from what wines are brought to the event. Then in the future, if you attend events with the same group, you will understand your audience.

I hang out with people who think $80 wine is inexpensive, but to me, that’s a pretty serious purchase. I don’t think I cheap out when I bring a wine that’s $80 and their wine is $200-300-- I think it’s just a matter of budget and showing a proper gesture. Fortunately, others typically recognize this and don’t say, “You need to buy more expensive wine next time.” Some of us just like to get together, learn, and chat. There’s no winning wine or anything like that. Most of the time, every wine is special in its own way so we respect that. Maybe it’s idealistic or too graceful compared to what others do, but hey, it works for some of us.

That said, don’t be like a friend of mine who brought a $10 bottle from Total Wine, ignored her bottle, and only drank the more expensive stuff. That’s just lame.

I met a bunch of guys at my first offline who have become very close friends of mine and we still hang on a regular basis 17-18 years later.

On my way to my second offline (I was still very much a novice), I stopped at Crossroads and asked George to sell me his “best” bottle of wine for around $50. It turned out to be some Behrens and Hitchcock concoction in a big, heavy bottle. Upon tasting it, Brad Kane exclaimed, “It feels like ants are biting my tongue!!!” :slight_smile:

Go, have fun, learn something, bring a bottle that you think is good, be polite, be yourself and you will have a great time.

The one thing I would caution is to not take it too seriously. Most of the offlines that I go to these days are dominated by conversation about family, sports, travel, work, etc., etc. We talk wine, but it’s not the end all be all. Now you may be looking for a very, very wine centric group and if that’s the case, what I describe above may not be appropriate. However, I find I have less fun at offlines that are full of rules and hyper focused on wine.

Rules I try to follow at my wine club:

  1. Don’t use a crazy straw.

  2. Don’t lick the corks or capsules… unless you can pocket them and sneak out to your car to do so.

  3. Offer your bottle around - don’t protect it regardless of how high it ranks amongst the other bottles.

  4. Don’t be a braggart or a schmuck. You can bring purple drank if you like because there might be somebody else who enjoys it, but avoid boasting about how much a bottle costs and don’t even mention price unless you’re asked specifically for that information. People can Google that, but where / how you found it (retailer, wine-searcher, etc.) might be useful to somebody.

  5. Enjoy yourself. If it isn’t fun what’s the point?


I think when you consider going to an offline some of the key things to remember are:
a) be humble and appreciate what others share.
b) be grateful if someone brings something “special” that you’re not likely to taste again.
c) there are some social etiquette rules. Try your best to respect them. Someone mentioned that someone brought a $10 bottle and then drank everyone else’s wines and didn’t touch what they brought. My thoughts are that I try to bring something that I want to drink…so if all else fails I have a wine there that I’m happy to consume. Bringing something you don’t want to drink…is likely an indicator that you shouldn’t have brought it.
I’ve always scratched my head when people bring “big Cali Cabs” then drink only Burgundy, Barolo, Champagne, & Bordeaux.
d) Above all else, try to learn and befriend new people at these events. One of my closest friends now I met at an offline I hosted several years ago. It’s turned out to be one of the best friendships I’ve developed in the last 10+ years.