THE FRENCH WAY TO SERVE WINE

In France, serving wine is not simply a question of pouring a liquid into a glass. It’s a sign of refinement and breeding that takes savoir-faire. To a certain degree, it’s ceremonial, especially in Paris…

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1. Never fill up a wine glass at the dinner table. Start by a filling the glass only a third to a quarter of the way. The hosts presents the wine, and the guests sip it appreciatively. They do not gulp it down to quench their thirst.

2. Set the table with different size wine glasses. The first wine of the meal, be it white or red, is served in the smallest wine glass, and the second wine in a somewhat larger wineglass. The water glass is the largest glass of all. The reason for this is the difference in duration of the different courses. In a fine French meal, you change wine with each course, and the first course or appetizer takes less time to eat than the main course. Glass size is proportionate to course length. . If the wine glasses are the same size, the first wine is served in the glass closest to the guest. If the table is set with only two glasses, then there’s no doubt that one is for water and the other for wine.

3. When to serve the wine? Just before serving the course or, at the latest, at the same time. Otherwise, how will your guests be able to appreciate how well such-and-such a wine goes with such-and-such a dish?

4. What if there’s still a little wine left in your guest’s glass when it’s time to change wines? Pour into the next glass, or offer to change you guest’s glass, but never rush her or him to “drink up”. This is especially true since wine left in a glass may be the guest’s way of discreetly suggesting that they have had enough to drink or in fact do not drink at all. Having to actually say “no thanks” and explain themselves could be considered awkward for guest and host alike in Parisian culture.

 

Isabelle - Spotlight

Bonjour, my name is Isabelle. At my parent’s, a week didn’t go by without a social gathering. It may have been a garden-party, a bridge party or a diner dance. No caterers, of course, everything was homemade! With my sisters, we learned how to put different spreads on toast, the right way of course, arrange the flowers for the tables or decorate the buffet, to say the right thing to each guest or organize an elegant picnic. As appropriate, I learned etiquette during these receptions and also had “savoir-vivre” lessons. Today, I work in public relations in Paris and the education that I received is of great use. I’ll give you several very Parisian tips…

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