From the school of polite partying: Spilled Wine 101

Grandmothers are bastions of fine manners, and ours always had strong opinions on drinks—mixed, shaken, stirred, and especially spilled. A consummate hostess, she taught us that putting one’s guests at ease is the golden rule of giving a gracious party. So when a festive cocktail party climaxes in a brandy stain on her favorite kaftan or bust of Marie Antoinette, she never fumbles for the right course of action.

Nana’s suggestion? If a guest spills their drink, spill yours, too. It’s no accident that she always has a very-dry, over-full, Beefeater martini in hand—gin doesn’t stain, and what better way to set a good example for the children? A good hostess plans ahead! When your butterfingered guest douses the table in alcohol, follow suit and fling your martini at the sideboard. If the port-drinking offender is especially important, ham it up and splash your drink in the direction of your husband or pooch. Old dogs are merely collateral damage.

Never have we seen this directive echoed in our extensive etiquette library, but she’s blood so we have little choice but to go with it. Since we’ve yet to bear witness to her gin-flinging, we’re considering pouring a little mulled wine on her favorite slipper chair this holiday season to see what happens. (Wish us luck.)

Original artwork by Cat.