The following is excerpted from "Prepare and Serve a Meal and Interior Decoration" by Lillian B. Lansdown, and is nice description of pairing different kinds of wine with the individual courses of a formal dinner. It also contains some very precise serving temperatures which are of interest.
The theory of alcoholic beverages at the formal dinner is a simple one. Certain fixed and definite rules obtain and are generally observed. Three wines may be served, though the best social form prefers one or two.
SHERRY OR MADEIRA
Sherry or Madeira may accompany the soup course. They should be poured after the soup has been placed, and served from a decanter. In general wine should always be poured slowly, and glasses should be filled only two-thirds. The etiquette is for the waitress to pour a little wine into the host's glass, then filling the glasses beginning at the host's right. Sherry should always be served cold, at a temperature of 40 deg. Fahrenheit; the Madeira may be served at a temperature of 65 deg. F., or that of the room.
SAUTERNE OR RHINE WINE
Sauterne or Rhine Wine go with the fish course. They are poured, like the Claret, at the end of the preceding course, before the next course comes on. They (like Sparkling Burgundy and Champagne) are served from the bottle, and the bottle should be held in a folded napkin or bottle holder. The mean average temperature of Sauterne should be 50 deg. F. Some prefer it decidedly cold (chilled in the icebox), others only slightly cold. Rhine Wine should always be cold: 40 deg. F.
Claret is the wine for the entree and, as a rule, is served from a claret pitcher. Being a light wine, it may be served with the Champagne and instead of it to those who do not prefer the Mumm. Claret should be poured at the end of the course immediately before the one with which it is served. The room temperature or one of 65 deg. F. is the proper one for Claret.
CHAMPAGNE, BURGUNDY OR PORT
These wines are served with the meat courses. In order that Champagne or Sparkling Burgundy may come on the table at the proper temperature (Champagne 35 deg. and Burgundy 70 deg. F.) it must be ice-packed for several hours before serving. Care must be taken, however, that it does not frappe when, if required at short notice, it is salt-and-ice packed half an hour before serving. Sweet Champagne, on the other hand, is improved in flavor if slightly frappeed. It should always be served very cold. Like Sauterne, Champagne and Burgundy are served from the bottle. In serving them the wire should be cut, and the cork carefully worked out of the bottle by pressing it up with the thumbs. It is wise to work out the cork under the edge of the table, since it is sometimes projected with much power. The temperature for Port is 55 deg. F.
CORDIALS AND LIQUEURS
Cordial glasses holding a small quantity are used for serving these sweet, aromatic beverages. Cordials are served plain, with crushed ice or with cream. In serving Creme de Menthe the straw is unusual in private home service, though customary in some hotels. Creme de Menthe glasses should be filled two-thirds full with fine crushed ice, then a little of the cordial poured over it. Chartreuse (green or yellow), Benedictine, Grenadine, Apricot Brandy, Curacoa, and Dantzig Eau de Vie arc usually served without additions or ice. Benedictine or Creme de Cacoa, however, may be served with a dash of plain or whipped cream. The exceedingly sweet Creme Yvette should he served with cracked ice, like Creme de Menthe. Noyau, Kirschwasser, Maraschino and Grenadine may be served as cordials, or reserved for the flavoring of puddings, ices and sauces.
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