Giving alcoholic beverages as gifts in Virginia | Allen and Allen

Giving alcoholic beverages as gifts in Virginia

Wine, beer, and spirits are popular gifts not just during the holidays, but all year long. Before you give the gift of alcohol, however, it is important to know what you can (and what you cannot) give away, and to whom.

champagne in buckets

Giving alcohol to private Individuals

As a general rule, Virginia allows individuals to give alcohol gifts to personal friends. People who make their own wine or beer at home or at a gourmet brewing shop may gift up to one liter of wine per person per year. Gifting beer is allowed up to seventy-two ounces per person per year, as long as the recipient is over 21 years old and the gift is for personal (noncommercial) use. Virginia also allows individuals who make their own wine or beer at home to give away samples at competitions and exhibitions, provided:

  • that they do not give away more than one ounce of wine or two ounces of beer per person, and
  • that they do not sell the wine or beer at the event.

Virginia allows individuals to serve alcohol to guests in their homes if the guests are at least 21 years old. If the guest is less than 21 years of age, Virginia allows the host to serve alcohol to the underage guest on two conditions:

  • if the underage person is accompanied by a parent, guardian, or spouse who is 21 years of age or older, and
  • if the alcohol is only consumed within the home.

There is one important exception. Regardless of whether the underage person’s parent, guardian, or spouse is present, it is illegal to serve alcohol to underage guests in a short-term rental. In Virginia, the term “short-term rental” refers to a room or space that is rented for less than 30 consecutive days.

cocktail party and drinks being poured

Licensees giving alcohol

Virginia allows individuals or businesses who hold certain types of licenses to give away samples or tastings of alcoholic beverages under certain conditions.

For example:

  • Retail licensees may give one alcoholic beverage as a gift to a patron, or one bottle of wine to a group of two or more patrons.
  • Brewers and vintners may give samples of their products to visitors of their winery or brewery, provided that the patron is at least 21 years old, and the sample is consumed on the premises.
  • Manufacturers, importers, bottlers, brokers, and wholesalers may donate alcoholic beverages to conventions, trade associations, or similar gatherings.
  • Wholesalers, wineries, breweries, and importers may give samples up to 52 fluid ounces (1.5 liters) to a retail licensee.
  • Government stores (ABC stores) and retail wine and beer licensees are allowed to give away samples or tastings, as long as the samples do not exceed four ounces of beer, two ounces of wine or cider, or one-half ounce of spirits

brewery giant copper vats

Note that Virginia retail wine and beer licensees include:

  • Convenience grocery stores
  • Delicatessens, drugstores
  • Gift shops
  • Gourmet oyster houses
  • Gourmet shops
  • Grocery stores
  • Marina stores

Alcoholic beverage manufacturers can give away up to 16 ounces of beer, six ounces of wine, or one-half ounce of spirits per person.


Alcoholic beverages can be a thoughtful and welcome gift, provided that they are given and consumed in a legal, safe, and responsible manner.

If you or a loved one have been injured by someone who was not consuming alcohol responsibly, such as a drunk driver, call Allen & Allen today for a free consultation to discuss your rights, at 866-388-1307.