DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am not a very big fan of most wines, but I do enjoy port. When I go out to eat, is it appropriate to order a dessert wine like port or sherry during the main course?
Also, if it is all right to drink port with dinner, how do I politely explain to the waiter that I know what I am ordering? I’ve had two waiters tell me that I should select something else for dinner, even though I was quite certain of what I wanted.
GENTLE READER: Traditions about food pairings still carry some force in formal events or private parties where the complete meal is selected by the host. They have little or no relevance in restaurants.
You will get a funny look if you order both a pasta and a meat course in Italian restaurants in the United States, where both dishes have been apportioned – and priced – as stand-alone dinners. But no one will think twice if you order three appetizers and call it a meal.
If you are more than 4 years old, Miss Manners does, however, caution against ordering dessert first, as you may be given the check when you are just getting started. The waiter can be thanked for his suggestion, but assured that you know what you want.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What do you think about those individuals who announce their own upcoming birthday? What should one do when someone says, “Don’t forget my birthday next week”?
GENTLE READER: The wording of your response will depend upon your relationship to the person; the enthusiasm and sincerity displayed should not.
If the person is a close relative – and has reason to suspect that you will forget unless reminded – you may answer, “Of course I know that, silly! I can’t wait.” If the person is a co-worker or other acquaintance for whom there is no expectation that you recognize the birthday, the answer should be, “Oh, that’s wonderful! I hope you have a lovely birthday.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Would you do this Gentle Reader an enormous favor and remind those who attend funerals not to approach the near and dear of the dearly departed with questions such as, “Do you remember me?” or “Do you know who I am?”
Please, if I have not seen you in many years, just tell me your name, and possibly how I know you, as in, “Hello, I’m Bob, and I worked with your father for many years. I am so sorry for your loss.”
I have had this guessing game thrown at me at both of my parents’ funerals, as well as at the funeral of an old high school friend whose service I helped to conduct. I can almost forgive the high school instance, because such an event is only a step away from an actual reunion. But please don’t terrorize family members with it.
GENTLE READER: People who do this, on any occasion whatsoever, have answered their own question – no, they are not memorable. Miss Manners would think that that realization alone would discourage this rude quizzing.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)
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