Being invited to a fine dining event can be a bit nerve racking for some who are not used to eating in places or during occasions that require some formalities. But who can refuse a free meal, especially if it is at a top restaurant that serves delectable gourmet food? And you will eventually have to learn, especially if eating in fancy dining establishments or attending fine dining lunches or dinners will become a part of your job. To get you started on the right foot, or should we rather say hand, here are some basic guidelines for general etiquette when you wine and dine.
1. Dress appropriately. A jacket is acceptable for the gents, but if it is a more formal occasion, then a suit and tie is more proper. As for the ladies, a dress or suit and closed shoes are the norm.
2. Practice basic table manners. Don’t talk when your mouth is full, cover your mouth when you cough, sit up straight in your chair, don’t place your elbows on the table, and don’t start eating before your host.
3. Don’t shout or wail your arms to get the attention of a waiter. Just make eye contact or put up your right hand with your index finger slightly raised.
4. Napkins should be placed on the lap and used for dabbing your mouth. If you need to leave the table and aren’t done eating yet, place it on your chair. When you are finished with your meal, place it neatly beside your plate.
5. The basic rule for using silverware is to start from the outside going in as each course is served. Take note also that there is a particular use for each glass (water, red wine, white wine, champagne, etc.). If you are a bit confused, observe what your hosts uses and just follow suit.
Never forget to thank your hosts and don’t be afraid to ask if there is anything on the menu or table you are not familiar with. And being polite and practising good manners is what matters most, no matter if you are a fine dining neophyte or expert.