Table Manners

How to serve wine and champagne properly?

Whether you are dining at a Michelin restaurant or a private banquet, you will choose champagne or wine for your meal. If there is no dedicated sommelier or service staff, we may need to pour for yourself or for others. Therefore, it is very important to master the correct knowledge of wine and wine pouring! Earlier, we have shared knowledge about the opening of wine and champagne. In this issue, we will continue to explain the key points of the wine after opening the bottle!

The Wine
Holding a bottle
First, hold the glass or place the glass on the table.
Avoid: Covering the bottle label when holding the bottle.

Suggestion: Hold the bottle with the hand you are used to, and make sure the label is exposed to ensure that other guests can see it.

Pouring the wine
Avoid: The top of the bottle touching the rim.

Recommendation:

1. The bottle top is located directly above the middle of the glass, and the height is 1-2cm from the glass is the best;
2. The speed of pouring the wine should be moderate. Too slow will cause the liquid to drip over the glass.

Level of serving
Avoid: More than one-half, or overfilling.

Suggestion: pour from 1⁄3 to  1⁄2 of the wine glass, this level guarantees that we have enough space to shake the glass.

When to refill
When the wine in the glass is about to reach the bottom, ask the other person/guest if they need a refill.

The Champagne
Holding a bottle
1 Restaurant serving service: Place the champagne glass on the table;
2 Private Banquet: You can choose to hold a champagne glass.
Avoid: Holding the bottle like it’s a wine bottle.
Recommendation: The thumb is in the bottom of the bottle and holds the bottle with the palm of your hand.

Pouring the champagne
The way to pour the champagne depends on how the champagne glass is placed.
1. If placed on the table horizontally:
When the restaurant or hotel service staff pours champagne, the cup is usually placed on the table. If the cup is on the table, you need to pour twice. For the first time, the bubbles overflowed the cup. Wait a moment until the bubbles fall and then pour again. When pouring champagne, slowly along the side of the glass, you can reduce the generation of bubbles.

2. If holding a champagne glass:
You need to tilt the glass at 45 degrees. Pour the champagne along one side of the glass while slowly straightening the cup. Holding a glass of champagne can effectively control the generation of bubbles.

Level of serving
Avoid: less than half  of the glass
Suggestion: Not less than 1⁄2 and more than  3⁄4 of the champagne glass

When to refill
When the level of the champagne is less than one-third, you can refill!

This article was first published by Michelin Guide.

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Why Chinese teacups have no handles

Dear ladies and gentlemen, some of you may wonder: why the traditional Chinese teacup has no handle while the European teacup does? Do you know where the difference comes from? Today, I will introduce you the story behind, and also some etiquette rules you should know about tea.

Chinese Anti-scalding Design
Chinese teacups are usually made of porcelain, and the shape without handles is more convenient both for production and transportation. And there are specific temperatures for brewing certain tea. In this case, a cup with no handle allows people to hold it with hands and feel the temperature by themselves. However, Chinese still have two special designs for the anti-scalding purpose.

1. Pair the cup with cover and saucer, so you don’t have to hold the body of the cup with hands directly but hold the saucer instead.

2. The bottom edges of the cup and the saucer are wider. And the edge serves as a stand to support the body of the cup and also prevents the direct physical contact.

What do the Europeans do to avoid scalding?
However in Europe, almost all sorts of cups in Europe were made of metals (silver or tin), and most of them are with handles. Because the thermal conductivity of metals is much better than any other materials, so it is impossible to use them for hot beverages. So how do they manage to drink hot tea without hurting themselves? They also had two ways:

1. In the 17th century, they imported Chinese teacups, which had no handle but with saucers. However, Europeans at that time knew nothing about the way how Chinese way of drinking. So they would hold the saucer with one hand, with the other hand to pinch the edge of the cup, take a sip very quickly and then put it back to the saucer.Even though they were scalded, they would never say it and would remain calm on their surface to stay elegant.

2. They got inspiration from their milk cup and wanted to produce their own teacups with handles to avoid the risk of scalding. And finally in the 18th century, they were able to do it after they discovered the secrets of porcelain.

Drinking habits
Chinese way of drinking is more of tasting: take the saucer with cup together, open the cover a bit but still press it against the cup; take a sip and then put it back onto the table.

European afternoon tea is usually a social event between nobles. And most Europeans are fond of sweets so that they will add sugar and milk into the hot tea. In order to cool the tea, they would pour it into the saucer, and then drink it afterwards with it. Later in the 19th century, people from high society abandoned drinking from the saucer, because they think it was vulgar and inappropriate to do so in public.

Etiquette rules for drinking tea

No matter you are in China or in Europe, there are some common rules you should follow when drinking tea:
Don’t make any noise when drinking.
And don’t drink like a fish but take small sips instead.
The spoon for European afternoon tea is for stirring the tea, not for drinking.
You cannot fill the whole cup with tea, otherwise the liquid would spill out and your guests would easily get scalded.
You could enjoy some pastries when drinking tea but never eat and drink at the same time using both hands.

Do you prefer to use the cups with handles or without handles? What else do you know about drinking tea?

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All things to know about bread

 

Dear ladies, gentlemen and children, nowadays you can easily find bread anywhere you go, savoury or sweet or even in different shapes, it is an aliment that fits everyone’s tastes. Where the bread originates from? Do you want to know about some interesting stories and table manners about bread? Let’s discover together!

Egypt
It is often being said that Egyptians invented bread in 3000 BC. We suppose that bread was created by accident, by mixing crushed or ground grains with water from the Nile, very rich in silt containing fermentation agents. Egyptians somehow put the fermented mixture in the oven then made the first bread in the world.


Egyptian baker making his bread

Let’s review some bread etiquette rules
The bread plate should be on the top left side of the main plate.

The proper cutlery for serving bread is a serrated bread knife. With sharp serrations, this knife cut the bread neatly while preserving its airiness.

You use a butter knife, like this one on the left, to cut off small butter cubes. You can also spread the butter with this knife.

Bread shouldn’t be cut with a knife but we use our hands to tear small pieces but always one at a time.

Use two fingers to break soft bread or breadsticks. For greasy bread like croutons, use a spoon especially when they are served over a soup.

You should avoid tearing pieces of bread with your teeth!

Having the fork in the left hand and a piece of bread in the right hand to push the food is a French method, but seen as very «middle-class», to avoid when you are invited or during formal meals, but you can keep with your close family.
In formal occasions, if the bread is served with olive oil or vinegar, each person should have his/her own plate for dipping.

Last but not least, we don’t use the bread to make sandwiches: we don’t stuff it with butter
or food, but we put a knob of butter and spread if wanted.


Click here to check out more about bread manners

Fun facts about bread
One ancient Egyptian way of baking the bread dough was to use a clay oven elevated with legs.


Portable oven (ἰπνός /ipnos) from 17th c. BC

It is believed that bread should always be in an upright position otherwise it will bring the Devil in the house.

One of the versions stating the origin of French baguette to the time of Napoleon. During the battles, bakers changed the traditional round shape to a longer shape so soldiers could carry them easily in a back pocket of their outfit.

The bread is so hard when dried out. In mediaeval, people use dry bread as plates or even containers for soup.

The caramel colour and aroma of bread are products of the maillard reaction: sugar reacts with an amino acid under high temperature.
The same reaction happens in a barbecue which makes meat mouth-watering.

Germany is the country having the most varied bread in the world, with more than 300 basic types and more than 1000 types of bread rolls and pastries.

Dear all, which type of bread is your favourite? Mine is of course:french baguette. Please share with me in the comments!

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How to prepare a great menu for a formal dinner

Dear ladies and gentlemen, spring is in the air! People step out and get together more often. If you are planning to host a formal western dinner but wondering how to prepare the menu, then these tips can definitely help you impress your guests.

A typical continental menu includes these parts:

Apéritif
If it is a French-style dinner or your guests have the habit to have a small drink before eating, the menu can start with alcoholic beverages.
You can choose from common Apéritifs like Vermouth, Campari, Dubonnett and Sherry. Sparkling wine and cocktails can also be good.
Apéritif should be dry in order to stimulate the appetite, try to avoid drinks which taste too sweet.

Appetizers
If there is no Apéritif, you can start the menu with appetizers. This first course of the meal usually consists of a small amount of food.
Seafood like smoked salmon and shrimps are often seen in appetizers. Oysters are also a good choice if it is the right season. Seafood is better served with a lighter white wine such as Chablis or Sauvignon Blanc.
Foie gras or red meat appetizers can be served with red wines like merlot or chardonnay.

Soup
Soup can vary. Normally seen are roasted onion soup, cream of mushroom soup and borsch. Hot bisque or chilli soup can quickly warm up your guests.
You can also try Curry soup or Tom Yum soup to add some exotic flavours, just make sure that your guests can accept that and that the taste is harmonious with the rest of the courses.

Main Course
The main course is the most anticipated part of a meal. It is usually a well-cooked meat course. Beef, Lamb, Pork and poultry are often prepared in different ways as the main course. On the side are a small amount of vegetables and staple food.
If the main course is rather heavy, crunchy vegetables like asparagus broccoli can reduce the greasiness. Seasoned or creamed side dishes will bring more tastes if the meat is lighter.
You can also make fish as the main course or prepare a fish dish before a meat dish. Again please prepare the right kind of table wine to go with the dish. A simple rule is that red wine with red meat and white wine with white meat.
Sometimes food like pasta or risotto can also be offered as the main course, you can check with your guests what do they want and prepare accordingly.

Dessert
There are also many options for dessert, ice cream or cakes can be served if you have no better idea.
If time permits, prepare a dessert of the same style as the main course. If it is French, a Crème brûlée will be on point; if it is Italian, maybe a pannacotta or a tiramisu will do good.

Drinks
At the end of the meal, offer some nice drinks. Coffee and tea are a safe option. Prepare espresso, black coffee and some black tea, provide some milk and sugar too.
In case your guests would like to have some digestif, you can offer them some brandy, whisky or liqueur.

Dear ladies and gentlemen, now you know about what makes the menu of a western-style dinner. If you are curious about the cutleries or the table manner, please check our previous articles or just leave us a comment!
Cutlery Usage
Wine Choice

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A general guide for Chinese table manners!

Dear ladies and gentlemen, since ancient times, China is a state of ceremonies. Table manners are also very rich and particular. Here we concluded the key points to express these rituals. Having good dining manners make those around you more comfortable and feel more impressed with your charisma.

Seating plan
Traditional/ancient rule: “The left side and door-facing seats were more important.” The seats of honour, are reserved for the host of the dinner or the guest with the highest status, facing the entrance or east. For details, please check our “Chinese seating plan” article!
The host should arrive earlier and wait nearby the entrance area and would guide guests.

Rules of ordering
1. Check the proportion and number of the guests, normally one dish per person is fine; if there’re more men, can go for more.
2. Standard Chinese dinner is composed of the cold dish, fried dish, main course, dessert, soup and fruits. Before ordering, ask your guests if they have food they dislike or they can’t eat due to personal reasons (for example, Chinese Buddhists eat less meat and food with strong taste). If there’re foreign guests, better skip animal viscera. Then start ordering according to the requirements. And ordering local specialities would show more courtesy or if you want to impress your guests.


3. If you’re having a business meal, don’t ask the dishes price in front of the clients.

At table
Wait for the most respectful person to start eating. It’s rude to insist on others to try some dish or even pick things to their bowls. While eating, don’t make a sound. For more details, please check our “mistakes in the Chinese table manners” article.

Toasting wine
Steps: the host and the accompany guest propose to the honoured guest; the honoured guest proposes back; at last accompany guests propose to each other. Do stand when giving or receiving toasts.
As a guest, one can’t take the host’s rule to be the first in toasting, which is rude for the host. For more details, please check our “Chinese drinking etiquette” article.

Serving tea
Hold the teacup with two hands, one around the cup and the other under. When refilling tea or drinks, always fill everyone else’s cup from the most honoured down before filling your own. Fill wine glass when toasting wine; but be careful not to fill teacup fully, around two-thirds of the cup is fine. Otherwise, people may think they’re not welcomed any more.

Leaving the banquet
After dinner, the guests shall wait for the host’s signal to leave. If you want to leave the party earlier, you need to explain and apologise to the host who invited you.

Dear ladies and gentlemen, Chinese table manners diverse from one region to another. We believe good table manners would enhance your image and impress your guests! Welcome to share your hometown table manners with us!

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Small secrets when eating fruits!


Dear ladies, gentlemen and children, we often eat fruit at the table. However, some rules defer when you attend high-end dinners. Which fruits can be eaten with fingers, which ones should be eaten only with a fork? I propose you to discover it together!

Eating fruit in a formal way
In formal occassions, fruit is eaten at the end of the meal. You will have a fruit plate together with a fruit knife and a fruit fork. The general rule is that medium-sized and larger fruit should be cut first before eating. Candied fruit and small fresh fruit should be eaten with fingers.

Watermelon
If you don’t mind about the seed then you use the edge of the fork to cut bite-sized piece and eat one bite at a time. If you want to remove the seeds, flick the seeds away using the tines and push them on a side of the plate.

Mango
The skin of a mango is inedible, therefore you may use a knife and a fork to cut the flesh away from it. To achieve the same cut as on the picture, cut 2 large slices along the mango pit, then with your knife do some squares on the flesh of the fruit.

Cherry
Cherries are eaten with a spoon in formal occassions. The pit is inedible so it should be removed. Take a cherry with a spoon, place into your mouth, clean the pit and put it back on the spoon. Use your opposite hand to cover your mouth while you are putting the pit on the spoon. Then put the pit on your plate.

Pineapple
This fruit is usually served on a plate or in a bowl. Use your fork for cutting and eating and dessert spoon for pushing the pieces.

Orange
If it’s already peeled use your finger to eat. In case there are pits inside use the tip of your knife to remove them and place on a side of a plate. If it has the rind, cut off both ends of it. Cut the peel off in strips. For more details please refer to our previous fruits etiquette article.

Papaya
If the pieces are sliced and peeled you will eat them with a fork or from the shell with a spoon.

Grapes
Use your fingers to eat grapes. Some grapes are seeded, in case you would like to remove the seeds you may use one of two ways:
1. After you put the grape into your mouth, place the seeds between your thumb and index finger and then put them on the side of a plate. This way is not that elegant, but the seeds are too small to use a fork.
2. You can use the point of your knife to pierce the grape and remove the seed.

Lemon
Rarely people eat only lemon, usually it’s used as a garnish to other dishes or beverages. When squeezing a lemon no matter if over a dish or a beverage, protect others from squirts. You may hold your cupped hand in front of the lemon or use a spoon. After squeezing, place the lemon on the egde of a saucer, in your beverage or on a plate.

Banana
Start with a cutting off the both ends, next cut the rind from one to another end and remove it. The skin goes on one side of a plate. Eat the banana one bite at a time. For more instructions please refer to our previous fruits etiquette article.

Strawberry
Strawberries should be eaten with fingers. If they are served with a cream, sugar, ice cream you should use a spoon.

Kiwi fruit
First you have to peel the inedible outer skin with a knife or spoon. Next, slice the kiwi crosswise. The seeds are edible so now you can enjoy your kiwi with a fork by cutting it in a bite-sized piece.

Pomegranate
Pomegranate are usually served in halves. Use your hand to secure one half and then with another hand scoop some seeds with a spoon and place onto your plate. From the plate take the seeds with your spoon and eat them.

Dear all, is there any other type of fruit that you are wondering how it should be eaten? Please share your question with us!

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Chinese seating plan know-how!

Ladies and gentlemen, nowadays we attend all kind of events. Do you know the traditional Chinese seating plan, the right or the left side carries honour? When you need to organize a Chinese dinner, do you know how to place your guest? Review together with us!

The same as for a Western table sitting plan, in China, before placing the guests at the table, we have to take the following items into consideration to create warm banquet atmosphere.

Seats of Honour:
The seats of honour, are reserved for the host of the dinner or the guest with the highest status, facing the entrance or east. Those with higher position sit closer to the host of the dinner. The guests with the lowest position sit furthest from the seat of honour.

Round table:
Principles of business seating plan:
1. The seat facing the entrance is the seat of honour. The right side is more important than the left side. Seats with a good view and close to walls also carry honour.
2. People from two different companies shall alternate the seats.

Here we listed three common situations, based on the number of host side:
a. One-host banquet
In business dinner, the host takes the main seat, and the rest of the people take seats according to the right side rule, and both parties shall alternate with each other. Therefore, the shape of the same party looks like a zigzag line.

b. Two hosts (same gender) banquet
This is common in business occasions, the first and second hosts are the same gender, seats facing to each other. The rest of the people also apply to the “right side rule”.

c. Two hosts (host and hostess) banquet
This is the family style. Generally, the host faces the entrance (so that he can guide latecomers) and the hostess faces the kitchen door, in order to guide staff serving with eye contact.

Square table:
Traditional/ancient rule: “The left side and door-facing seats were more important.” Take Eight Immortals Table for example, a big square table with benches for two people on each side. Facing to the entrance side are the main seats (for the most important guest). The seats on the left hand side of the main seat were, from left in order of importance were third, fifth and seventh; and those on the right were second, fourth, sixth and eighth.

In grand banquet:
1. The table of honour is the one furthest from the entrance.
2. If there are many tables in one room, the central one is the table of honour.

Dear ladies and gentlemen, above are the general principals of Chinese seating plans, but the actual situations are quite complicated because of regional, cultural and other differences.

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10 finger foods you may be confused with

Dear ladies, gentlemen and children, there is a time when you can release yourself from using cutleries. Some foods are meant to be eaten with your fingers. The question is do you know what they are?
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Divine buffet host/participant

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, do you know how to host a buffet? How much food per person to prepare? How to keep your food warm or cold? Rules to follow at a buffet restaurant? Let’s discover together!
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How to decorate your Christmas table?

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, Christmas is knocking at our door! Ms Milakov and I are proposing you to see how to have an elegant table decoration? How to fold the napkins? What Christmas styles you can apply? Let’s see together!

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