I recently taught a five-course dining-etiquette class to the students of one of St. Louis Universities’ Departments of Health. Here several of their very interesting questions:
Q: How do you properly hold a stemmed glass of red wine? I was told to hold the wine glass at the stem but use your pinky to secure the bottom of the glass because it will heat up the wine otherwise? Is that correct? What about a stemmed glass of white wine?
A: Regardless of whether the stemmed glass contains red or white wine, the proper way to hold the glass is to hold it near the base of the stem using your thumb, forefinger and index finger. The other two fingers (including the pinky), are to move further down to the base to help stabilize the glass.
By holding the glass in this manner, you delay the warming of the wine inside the glass as well as having a lot of unwanted, perhaps unsightly fingerprints on your glass.
Q: How do you know if you can order an appetizer if you’re not paying for the meal?
A: Simply allow the host or hostess (person paying the bill) to take the lead regarding that question. If he or she replies with a no, then you do not to order an appetizer. If the host or hostess offers the question to all the guests at the table, hold your response until several other guests reply. If no one else is interested, then remain silent. If someone else does respond positively, then say something like: “Some onion rings (or potato skins or whatever you like) might be nice.” The host or hostess will then probably order several different appetizers to be shared by all the guests at the table.
Q: I know I am not to start eating my salad or any course until everyone has been served, but does that apply to taking a sip of my champagne or wine?
A: Yes, wait until everyone’s glass has been filled, and wait, as well, to see if the host or hostess of the table offers a toast.
Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Dianne Isbell at Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.