Always serve an uneven number of courses. The central course, normally the roast course, is the focus of the meal: serve the same number of courses before the roast as after; serve the same number of courses in the salon before the meal, as in the drawing room after the meal. Alternate sweet or tart dishes with savoury dishes, taking thought to how each taste transitions to the next.
The letters after each course heading indicate how fundamental is the course. Thus, for a three-course meal, use all of the “A” courses: Soup, Roast and Dessert. For a 5-course meal, use the “A” and “B”courses: Appetizer, Soup, Roast, Salad, Dessert; and so on.
The tureen, with a stack of soup-plates beside it, may be standing next to the hostess's place while the appetizers are being enjoyed.
With soup, serve sherry in sherry glasses, which are smaller than wine-glasses.
With fish, serve white wine in small wine-glasses.
Often incorrectly called the “Entrėe”,.the “Rôti” course is the feature course of the meal. When you are serving fewer courses, you can “promote” another course – for example, fish or venison-- to the role of feature course, in which case it takes the place of the “Rôti” course. Red wine, served in larger wine-glasses is usually served with the roast course.
North Americans are so used to restaurants' serving a salad at the start of the meal, by which means the restaurant seeks to keep them inexpensively distracted during the time it takes to prepare on-demand meals, that they are surprised to be served a salad in its proper place, after the Rôti. If you are serving fewer courses, you may serve salad instead of soup to avoid confusing your restaurant-adapted North-American guests, in which case youwill not of course serve a salad here.
Serve a robust sharp read wine with Cheese.
Serve a sweet dessert wine: a sparkling rose or a pinot noir is appropriate.
At the end of the last dessert course, the hostess will catch the eyes of one or two of the other ladies – “ladies” being a euphemism for anyone who prefers the conversational topics of the drawing-room and the taste of coffee, to port and the conversation that accompanies port – and stand, saying “excuse us, gentlemen,” and lead the ladies into the drawing-room.
The gentlemen of course stand to help the ladies up, and then led by the hostand assisted by any male domestic staff, the gentlemen– and for the sake of all fairness, all folk who choose to remain at the table regardless of their actual sex should be considered gentlemen and behave in a gentlemanly manner – remove the cloth from the table, obtain port glasses and the port bottle, and pass the port as follows:
The host pours port into his own glass, and places the bottle to his left. The guest to the host's left then fills his own glass, and places the bottle on the table to his left. Contrary to the conceit practiced in some military messes, the port bottle may properly and should be set down on the table; however no gentlemen should allow it to remain stalled to his own right just because he himself doesn't care for any more port. He should in a timely manner pass the bottle along, even if he does not take the opportunity to refill his glass.
When the host sees that the gentlemen are replete with port and gentlemanly talk, he should announce “Shall we join the ladies?” and lead the gentlemen into the drawing-room.
The ladies in the drawing-room will refresh themselves with coffee and cakes. The cakes should be small and dense so that they can be consumed like canapes, as “finger-food”; any soft cakes requiring the use of forks having been served as pudding during the desserts at the table. When the gentlemen arrive, they also partake of coffee and cakes. If desired, liqueurs may be offered with the coffee.