BYOB etiquette

Bringing your own bottle is a convention well established in wine circles. Whenever we get together, sharing our favourites with friends and colleagues is one of wine’s great pleasures, providing great social activity as well as offering a chance to discover exciting new bottles.

Choosing which B to B, however, can be angst-ridden. The wine you choose says a lot about you – it’s a miniature distillation of your personality, and it's going to be judged not just on its own merits but in comparison to the other wines at the table.

You can’t bring anything too expensive. Firstly, that suggests a lack of imagination – of choosing based on price purely to impress. Secondly, it would set an uncomfortable standard for everyone bringing less expensive wines. Nor can it be too cheap, of course – no matter how original and obscure your choice is, if you’ve spent less than ten quid, you’ll look like a tightwad.

Brands are out of the question – too obvious, too mainstream. On the other hand, funky natural wine is likely to be too divisive. It should probably be recognisable but with a few nerdy points of interest to get bonus points. Ideally, you should have a good story behind the bottle too, something to nonchalantly mention as it gets poured.

‘Oh yes, I picked this up when I was doing vintage at [revered producer name].’
‘This? Actually, it originally came from the cellar at [famous restaurant / stately home / royal residence].’

Tonight is the informal opening event of the 2015 Digital Wine Communicators Conference in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Naturally, it’s a BYOB event, with hundreds of wine people from around the world gathering to share their carefully selected bottles. We’ve also been asked to bring something that represents our home, if possible.

I’ve brought two bottles made by London Cru, the urban winery in Fulham. I tasted them last week and was hugely impressed with the quality (I’ll be publishing tasting notes on JancisRobinson,com later this month), not least because they ship the grapes in from mainland Europe. That gives them the ostensibly lowly classification of ‘EU Wine’ – so I’ll get bonus points for such a rare appellation.

The ones I’ve chosen are a Syrah and Grenache that were grown in Spain in 2014 (but EU Wine can only be labelled as non-vintage – another bonus point) and they’re ripe, modern, satisfying wines with classic varietal character and serious complexity. I'm not sure what they say about my personality, I just hope they go down well ...