How to politely refuse a drink

It’s a situation you have probably been in before: you’re being entertained in someone’s home and they offer you a drink that’s not exactly your cup of tea. Maybe you’re a red wine drinker and the host has offered you white, or you have an aversion to wheat beer but the host is obsessed with it. What’s the process of politely declining the drink, without offending your host?

While the easiest thing to do in this situation is to tell your host you won’t be imbibing this evening, let’s be honest, all that does is leave you sitting in the corner watching everyone else enjoy themselves while you wish you had any drink in your hand besides that pumpkin beer the host is serving, but you had to go and lie, claiming you aren’t drinking. Big mistake.

One of the worst things you can do in this situation is lie to the host and say you aren’t drinking tonight. What are you going to do if an hour later the host serves one of your favorite beverages? Will you sneak a drink and risk looking like a liar, or will you abstain and further shrink into your corner?

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Just be honest. As we all learned as children, honesty is the best policy, but that doesn’t mean you should be brutally honest; after all, you also need to consider your hosts feelings. Don’t go telling the host you aren’t a fan of IPA because you think it tastes like licking a pine cone or that their choice in wine is beneath you. Instead explain that you need to pass on the wheat beer because you’ve never been able to acquire a taste for it, or that white wine is often a bit too acidic for your tastes and your stomach.

In every instance, blame your lack of desire to consume the beverage they’re politely offering on yourself. The worst thing you can do is cause your host to feel as if they are at fault for choosing to offer a beverage that they themselves enjoy. Self deprecation is encouraged – it’s not you, it’s me! – and it helps put the host at ease.

In the end, if done politely your host will almost certainly offer you something else to drink, and you can both go on with your evening happily.