This was our Bottle

The Experience

“I was invited to the birthday lunch of an Australian acquaintance. Apart from me, most of the guests were Australians. First surprise: the birthday was not at someone’s home but in a restaurant. After getting there late, I glanced around the table and noticed some of the guests were drinking wine. I held out my glass to the person closest to the bottle and asked for a bit of wine. She poured it in. At the end of the meal, the check traveled from hand to hand, each adding up their tap according to what they had drunk and ate. When it got to me, I asked: ‘and for the wine, can we share?’

I heard a cold reply: ‘No, this was our bottle.’ I felt extremely embarrassed… and lost, I had obviously committed a faux-pas, but which one?

It wasn’t until the following meals that I figured it out. Before ordering, the people who want to drink make themselves known. Then they order a bottle that they share (to drink and pay). Each bottle that is ordered is assigned to a fixed group of drinkers. If an outsider wants in, s/he has to clearly ask: ‘can I share the bottle with you?’ If the group agrees, s/he will join in on the wine and the cost. But the group can also refuse if it deems there are already too many drinkers for that bottle…”

Place Papua New Guinea

Date 2015

Who Tells the Story

Yona has lived most of her life as an expat: as a child with her parents in Gabon, Djibouti and Benin, and as an adult with her husband and children in Angola, Papua New Guinea and Brazil.

What do You Think?