How to Hold a Wine Glass and Other Forgotten Rules of Dining Etiquette

When we go out to a posh restaurant or are invited to dinner at a posh friend’s house, there are some rules of etiquette we always follow: using a knife and fork (unless we’re eating sandwiches), thanking the host (unless we are the host) and covering our mouths if we cough or sneeze (there are no exceptions here).

But there some rules of dinner etiquette once integral to dinnertime conduct, that are now lost to the ether. Here we look at some forgotten rules of dining etiquette our high society forebears would have taken for granted.

How to hold a wine glass

Holding a wine glass might sound like something so minute that it shouldn’t really matter at all – but isn’t that what etiquette is all about? Experts at Wine Folly say holding a wine glass may well affect others’ perceptions of you, particularly at a wine tasting event. So you don’t want to get it wrong.

The best way to hold a wine glass is towards the base, gripping the stem with your fore- and middle fingers. This should feel natural once you start doing it, and hopefully you will never offend any veteran wine-taster’s sensibilities!

To make sure the wine you are drinking is up to scratch, check this handy wine inspection guide from The London Wine Cellar.

How to use cutlery

One of the trademarks of high society is people using those tiny forks and spoons, with several of them lined up either side of their china plates. But when confronted by a posh table setting like this, what are you supposed to do? Luckily, though this rule of etiquette is little taught today, it is quite easy to remember. You simply work from the outside in, using a new implement for each course.

When you finish a course, make sure you place your cutlery at the 6 o’clock position on your plate. And always compliment the chef, even if the food was terrible (and in such small portions).

How to use a napkin

Again, using a napkin seems pretty self-explanatory, but to using a napkin with proper etiquette was once very important. Correct use of a napkin starts at the very beginning of the meal when the guest of honour sits down. If you don’t know who the guest of honour is, it might be you. Once the guest in question is seated, if they know proper napkin etiquette, they will unfold their napkin and place it on their lap. The rest of the guests can then do the same.

Throughout the meal the napkin may be used to blot your mouth periodically. Do not refold the napkin and do not bunch it up into a little ball. At the end of the meal the guest of honour will place the napkin on the table, next to their plate, without any dirt showing. The rest of the guests can then follow suit.

This napkin guide can help you if you really want to delve into the particulars of dinnertime face-wiping.