As you may have seen, we host and attend many wine-related dinners throughout the year. And, as you might imagine, plenty of wine is consumed. Many participants attend, and throughout the night, it becomes apparent there is some liability inherent in having people consume wine at a social function in your winery and then drive away. Thankfully, there are some great insurance policies that protect us, however, the same situation is true in your home. You should share my concern not only for your friends’ safety but for your financial security should something go awry and a tree jump out in front of your impaired pal’s automobile.

So the next time you are hosting a wine dinner, please keep in mind these three simple rules to make sure your guests have a good time but are also being responsible.

Rule number # One is fairly well known, but bears repeating:

Always serve plenty of food with wine. A stomach with something in it tempers the rate with which alcohol enters the bloodstream and avoids the one-glass-staggering-about-the-room syndrome. If you have ever attended an event at our winery, you will notice that cheese and crackers are prominent at each table.

But Rule # Two is less well known and, I think, much more effective, particularly at dinner parties where several wines and food is to be served. Have plenty of water available and keep everyone’s water glass filled. As people talk and eat and talk, you will find that if water is available, they will drink it, in great gulps, between taking, one hopes, smaller amounts of wine with food bites and between contributing sound bites.

There are several benefits to this strategy. People will consume water, which will dilute the alcohol level in their system with water and not become as tipsy. Wine, especially red wine, acts as a diuretic, and causes dehydration and thirst. By hydrating (with water instead of wine), your guests will avoid the drugged feeling that comes with dehydration and will also feel less of the effects drinking wine causes some people the next morning.

Rule #3 is one of my most important rules. If you know that you will be attending a wine-related dinner, please have a designated driver. The only times we do not have a designated driver is if we are staying at the same hotel that is hosting the dinner and therefore no driving is required. Your safety and the safety of your guests is really the most important part of enjoying any dinner..

Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Street, Garrettsville. For more gift ideas or wine lists from the winery, please visit