So the dinner party is going well but are you really going to ruin it by carving the roast with a bread knife or partaking in asparagus in an ill-bred fashion…of course not and Routledges comes up with some great tips:
Always help fish with a fish-slice, and tart and puddings with a spoon, or, if necessary, a spoon and fork. Asparagus must be helped with the asparagus-tongs. In eating asparagus, it is well to observe what others do, and act accordingly. Some very well-bred people eat it with the fingers ; others cut off the heads, and convey them ‘ T the mouth upon the fork. It would be difficult to say which is the more correct.
I never eat food with my fingers if I can help it although it is of course acceptable on some occasions, fruit being such an occasion!
In eating stone fruit, such as cherries, damsons, &c., the same rule had better be observed. Some put the stones out from the mouth into a spoon, and so convey them to the plate. Others cover the lips with the hand, drop them unseen into the palm, and so deposit them on the side of the plate. In our own opinion, the last is the better way, as it effectually conceals the return of the stones, which is certainly the point of highest importance. Of one thing we may be sure, and that is, that they must never be dropped from the mouth to the plate.
Spitting at any time for whatever reason at the meal table is an affront to mankind and should be met with a look of disappointment or utter horror…and don’t forget…
In helping sauce, always pour it on the side of the plate.
Alcohol is still an important part of any dinner party. A good wine as I stated earlier is readily available for around £5 but the temptation is sometimes to have a touch too much.
If the servants do not go round with the wine (which is by far the best custom), the gentlemen at a dinner-table should take upon themselves the office of helping those ladies who sit near them. Ladies take more wine in the present day than they did fifty years ago, and gentlemen should remember this, and offer it frequently. Ladies cannot very well ask for wine, but they can always decline it. At all events, they do not like to be neglected, or to see gentlemen liberally helping themselves, without observing whether their fair neighbours’ glasses are full or empty. Young ladies seldom drink more than three glasses of wine at dinner ; but married ladies, professional ladies, and those accustomed to society, and habits of affluence, will habitually take five or even six, whether in their own homes or at the tables of their friends.
The habit of taking wine with each other has almost wholly gone out of fashion. A gentleman may ask the lady whom he conducted down to dinner; or he may ask the lady of the house to take wine with him. But even these last remnants of the old custom are fast falling into disuse.
It interesting that back in 1887 that wine as such had ‘gone out of fashion’, it certainly hasn’t nowadays. Good company, excellent food and a fine wine is my by word.
Unless you are a total abstainer, it is extremely uncivil to decline taking wine if you are invited to do so. In accepting, you have only to pour a little fresh wine into your glass, look at the person who invited you, bow slightly, and take a sip from the glass. It is particularly ill-bred to empty your glass on these occasions.
Down in one!!! Good grief!!!
Certain wines are taken with certain dishes, by old-established custom as:
sherry, or sauterne, with soup and fish;
hock and claret with roast meat;
punch with turtle;
champagne with whitebait;
port with venison;
port or burgundy, with game;
sparkling wines between the roast and the confectionery;
Madeira with sweets ;
port with cheese ;
and for dessert, port, tokay*, Madeira, sherry, and claret.
*wines produced in the Tokaj-Hegyalja region of Hungary;
Red wines should never be iced, even in summer. Claret and burgundy should always be slightly warmed; claret-cup and champagne cup should, of course, be iced. Instead of cooling their wines in the ice-pail, some hosts have of late years introduced clear ice upon the table, broken up in small lumps, to be put inside the glasses. This is an innovation that cannot be too strictly reprehended or too soon abolished. Melting ice can but weaken the quality and flavour of the wine.
Ice in white wine is so refreshing but it really doesn’t do it for red at all.
Those who deem to drink wine and water can asked for iced water if they choose, but it savours too much of economy on the part of a host to insinuate the ice inside the glasses of his guests, when the wine could be more effectually iced outside the bottle.
On wine glasses, some top tips|:
Be careful to know the shapes of the various kinds of wine-glasses commonly in use, in order that you may never put forward one for another:
High and narrow, and very broad and shallow glasses, are used for champagne; large, goblet-shaped glasses for burgundy and claret;
ordinary wineglasses for sherry and Madeira;
green glasses for hock;
large, bell-shaped glasses, for port.
Port, sherry, and Madeira, are decanted.
Hocks and champagnes appear in their native bottles.
Claret and burgundy are handed round in a claret-jug.
and to finish with:
Coffee and liqueurs should be handed round when the dessert has been about a quarter of an hour on the table. After this, the ladies generally retire. Should no servant be present to do so, the gentleman who is nearest the door should hold it for the ladies to pass through. When the ladies leave the dining-room, the gentlemen all rise in their places, and do not resume their seats till the last lady is gone.
Good manners and good breeding. According to Jean Anthelme Brillat- Savarin (a French lawyer and politician, and gained fame as an epicure and gastronome)
” To invite a friend to dinner,” says Brillat Savarin, “is to become responsible for his happiness so long as he is under your roof.” Again: “He who receives friends at his table, without having bestowed his personal supervision upon the repast placed before them, is unworthy to have friends.”
and some final words the bear careful examination.
A dinner, to be excellent, need not consist of a great variety of dishes: but everything should be of the best, and the cookery should be perfect. That which should be cool should be cool as ice ; that which should be hot should be smoking ; the attendance should be rapid and noiseless ; the guests well assorted ; the wines of the best quality ; the host attentive and courteous; the room well lighted ; and the time punctual.