This is not limited only to Christmas, but it’s at this time of year when the conundrum is most apparent. On a day when the shops will all be closed, there is no option to head out in search of more.
Some people would say the formula is a simple one. If travelling alone, bring one bottle. If travelling in pairs, bring two. But this ignores far too many variables. If this is a long dinner, complete with both dessert and cheese, it will demand a range of wines. Could you – would you? – trust your host and the other assembled guests to supply an appropriate tipple for each course?
If travelling alone, I always err on the side of caution. One bottle to give to the host and two others, a white and a red that I presume might go with dinner, stashed in my bag in case they are needed. If travelling as a couple, give two bottles to the host.
But what if someone forgot to bring an aperitif? Or a dessert wine? Or, heaven forbid, the Port? This would mean we need to bring a bottle of bubbly to start, a bottle of something for the host, a sweet wine to go with the pudding and a bottle of Port to finish it all off. And, to be safe, a bottle of red and white in the bag just in case.
Therefore, the ideal number of bottles to bring to dinner is six.
But what if not all of the guests bring enough wine? Or what if you find that some of the wine at the party just doesn’t pass muster? Best to add another bottle to that list, then.
There is the theory, of course, that the correct number of bottles of wine is n+1, where ‘n’ is the number you believe is necessary (either what the host expects or the six that you think will cover all of the bases). Therefore, if n=1, then the correct number of bottles is two.
However, if you have fears of being stuck at the Christmas party talking to Uncle Wayne long after the Port has run out, then the ideal number is 6+1=7. A bottle of bubbles to start, a bottle for the host, something sweet for dessert, a fine Port for the stilton, two bottles stashed in the bag just in case and a seventh bottle in reserve once the rest runs out.
Yes, that sounds about right.