A procedural question
Thanks to much consulation from this board, I am all set with my wine pairings for dinner next Saturday night. I've got Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauterne for different parts of the meal. My question is this: do all the glasses go on the table at once, or do I bring new glasses out as the courses change? Can guests still sip at their Pinots while they have a glass of sauterne during salad or cheese course? How do the logistics work?
For me, it depends on the number of guests and on the number/order of the wines. I have done it both ways and there are a few +/-'s to each.
I try and define a wine for every course, and hope that there is some hold-over, so the guests can play a bit with the pairings. If all wines are poured at once, the temp can be a bit hard to manage, especially with your Sauternes.
For more than ~ 6 guests, I'll pour from my side-board and place the glasses with the guest's plates for each course. This also makes pouring much easier and less disruptive to the conversation around the table. The ease of pouring is especially nice, if I've decanted a magnum, or two. Also, passing/pouring fromk a decanter can be tricky for some guests.
That said, it's lovely to have all of the glassware glistening on the table and I do not have to keep getting up to manage the glasses and pours for each course. If we have servers, I'll usually go with the first couple of courses' wines at the beginning, then have the servers work in the kitchen to bring in the other courses' wines.
As I said, +/-'s with either way.
I always put all the glasses on the table - makes it easier for me frankly - and then pour what I've planned to serve with each food. However, despite my pairings, there may well be a guest who prefers to have red rather than the white that I've planned for a course, etc., and I'd rather have the guest be happy than insist that they try what I've chosen.
I absolutely prefer "all wines, all the time" IF a major purpose of the meal is to develop a sense of the food/wine matchups.
We've had 8 or 9 glasses on the table PER PERSON at some meals. The key is to KEEP THE GLASSES IN ORDER so that as you're discussing them, you can refer to "the wine on the left" or "the wine second from right in the top row"... Put the glasses out first, in front of each person, then starting with the wine that goes in the first glass on the left, pour that and pass it around to each person... and so forth with each bottle.
And don't pour different wines into the same glass. One glass, one wine.
One of the great payoffs is that you will pick up on some great matchups, but you'll also discover how awful many food/wine combos are. And this will help you appreciate the good combos that much more.
If possible, set small tables strategically placed with additional glasses so that each convive can grab additional stems as needed.
ALSO if you're going to pour more than one wine of the same type: please allow for side-by-side tastings. That is, more than one stem per wine type.
I agree with setting the table with a single glass, especially if wine will be served prior to dinner. A would suggest delegating the placement of the new glasses to someone (assuming you are handling the food plating). However, I would never remove an unfinished glass of wine from any guest in my home. Hopefully your efforts and attention to detail will be appreciated by all. Don't forget to enjoy yourself !