We are so lucky to be living in Temecula.  We enjoy beautiful weather, location, people, and of course the wine. So I thought I would share with you a bit of wine etiquette.

Trust your taste buds.  If you think a wine tastes good with a certain food your guests will probably agree.  Very good wines do not need to be expensive or rare.  There are some very good wines here in Temecula for you to share.  A wine shop with knowledge or a local winery can make recommendations.

When serving a meal you don’t have to serve a different wine with each course, one wine can be served throughout the meal.  Generally white wines are served before red.  Traditionally red wines were served with meat and white with fish or chicken.  Today, most people go with what they like and what they think goes with the menu. 

The wine glasses always go to the right of the water glass at a dining table.  Remember, B-M-W when setting your table.  Bread goes on the left, your meal is in the center and the water goes to the right.

You will uncork red wine away from the table, before the meal to let it breathe. Usually, one half hour to one hour.  Smell the cork and taste the wine, checking to see if it has an off smell or taste.  If you are serving white wine or champagne you will pour it as soon as the cork is popped.   

Red wines are usually served at room temperature and whites or rose wines are served chilled. Between pourings, a chilled wine is returned to the refrigerator or kept in an ice bucket on a side table.  When you are serving the wine it is usually wrapped in a large dinner napkin or white towel to hold in the chill and prevent drips.  When pouring wine the host pours for the women and older guests first, then the men, and then they fill his or her own glass last. 

Wineglasses are filled to the widest point of the glass, usually about halfway.  Champagne is poured two thirds of the way up the glass so that you can enjoy the bubbles.  You will also pour champagne against the inside of the glass so as to preserve the bubbles.  To prevent drips give the bottle a bit of a twist when you are ending the pour. 

How to hold the glass?  White wines are usually chilled so you would hold you glass by the stem so that you are not warming the wine with your hand.  Red wines are served at room temperature so you may cup the bottom of the glass with your hand.  But, modern practice is to hold it by the stem as well so you don’t get finger prints on the glass.  

When dining and you have been helped by a wine steward, tip them directly at 15 to 20 percent of the value of the wine.  Yes, that’s right if you order a $200.00 bottle of wine you will tip the steward $30.00 to $40.00. You can either give them cash after they pour the last of the wine or you can tip them at the end of the meal. If you order two bottles of wine remember to tip for both.  Remember that when you have tipped the wine steward that you will only tip your waiter for the price of the food. 

What if you are not drinking wine at a meal?  You do not need to turn the glass over during a meal to indicate you are not imbibing.  Instead, simply say, “No, thank you,” when wine is offered.  Or you can put your hand over (not on) the glass to signal to the waiter to pass you by. The server will then remove the glass.

Inevitably, when you are enjoying a glass of wine or champagne, people will begin toasting.  Be prepared whether it is during an informal moment or during a friend’s wedding. 

At a dinner party it is the host’s right to give the first toast. If the host does not offer a toast, a guest may propose a toast saluting the host. 

 The “host toasts first” applies to all events except at a wedding reception where the best man usually leads the toast.  

Toasts are usually made as soon as the beverage is served usually at the beginning of the meal, or just before dessert.

The person proposing the toast stands, and or raises a glass and asks for everyone’s attention. (Do not clink the glass with a utensil).   Once they have everyone’s attention they begin their toast. Make it short and positive.  

At the end of the toast everyone except the honoree(s) raises their glasses and drinks. Do not clink the crystal, it is not done and it can also break the glasses. 

You may remain seated during a toast unless the toaster has asked you to stand.

The honoree doesn’t rise or take a drink, but they should acknowledge the gesture with a smile or a nod. 

After the toast is finished, the honoree drinks to the toaster’s in return with a “Thank you” or their own toast.  You may stand or not.

Please don’t drink the entire drink during a toast.  Just a sip should do it. And, yes you can toast with water.

Remember, whether you are the host or the guest, take care not to overindulge in wine or other alcoholic beverages. Nothing is less mannerly than losing control after drinking too much, and nothing can ruin an evening more quickly for everyone else. Make sure that you eat while drinking, and pace yourself by alternating alcoholic beverages with nonalcoholic ones.  Keep in mind that drinking any alcoholic beverages causes dehydration, so be sure to drink enough water. 



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"Manners are a sensitive awareness of others.  if you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use."

-Emily Post

American author on etiquette

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