When we first moved to Paris over 20 years ago, we were invited to dinner at friends’ homes and then at friends of friends’ homes, and soon it was time for me to invite everyone to come to our place. I thought dinner went really well until the next day, when a very close friend of mine called to tell me what I should avoid doing the next time I have a French dinner party. He was so very kind, explaining that I couldn’t possibly have known the traditions and assuring me that there was no reason to be embarrassed, but I understood that I was meant to do better in the future.
Among the list of things I needed to remember was: A woman is not supposed to pour wine. Because he was so sweet, I decided not to mention women winemakers - I'm sure the Veuve Clicquot poured the champagne she made; women sommeliers, whose job is to pour wine; or all of us women who like to have meals – and wine! – with our women friends.
In case you’re wondering, I’ve continued to pour wine. And so has my friend, the cooking teacher, Patricia Wells. She told me that at home and with her students, she follows what she calls “summer house rules” – she’ll pour the first round, put open bottles on the table and let everyone to pour their own after that.
Never mind that there’s a tradition that says that you should never pour your own wine.
There’s also something about who gets the last drop in the bottle. Tradition (or superstition?) has it that getting la dernière goutte, the last drop, might mean that the person will soon be married. I asked Laura Adrian, the wine director of Verjus, Ellsworth and the upcoming Twenty Two Club in Paris (sneak peek here), about the last drop – she thinks the tradition is “totally charming.” When she’s pouring at a dinner party or at the Club (the top picture is of Laura doing just that), she says she likes to find the couple that’s making googly eyes at each other and empty the last drop into one of their glasses. “It’s kind of like the bridal bouquet at a wedding,” she said, “some people avoid it, and others rush to catch it.”
Does it really matter who gets that last drop? Juan Sanchez, a restaurateur in Paris and Champagne – and the owner of a Parisian wine shop appropriately called La Dernière Goutte – has been pouring wine in France for over 30 years and has his own way of doing things: He asks who wants the last drop. Robert Compagnon, who with his wife, Jessica Yang, owns the Paris restaurant Le Rigmarole (one of my favorites) and the ice cream/wine shop Folderol, says that if there’s a last drop, the person who gets it should be made to feel that it’s an honor.
That’s certainly the way I felt last week when, at the end of a remarkable dinner by Sebastien Martinez at Le Moulin de Rosmadec in Pont Aven, the sommelier, pouring what remained of our wine into my glass, proclaimed, “The last pleasure is for Madame.” Sigh.
Thoughts? Traditions? Superstitions? Who pours chez vous? Who gets the last drop? Let me know and I'll see you again Tuesday.
Here’s to enjoying every drop!
– xoxo Dorie
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Nice to take a break and read your entertaining thoughts on wining and dining. I will definitely now remember, "The last pleasure is for Madame." Awe. Especially the eyes that must have gone along with the line At our house, we —whoever has a momen…
Alice, this is so wonderful! I can just see people coming into your home and getting a sparkler. And then sitting down to dinner with a glass of red already poured. Here's to lots more years of Dave doing the pouring - xoxo Dorie
this was such a fun and interesting post, thx for sharing! Btw I made your gougeres and blue cheese madeleines recipes for a wine party we had yesterday and everyone loved them! Wish I could post a picture of them to impress you lol
Oh, how interesting! I had not heard about the last drop or about women not pouring the wine. These things are evolving, as now they will often ask who is doing the tasting or they will just have us both taste. Also, I'm glad you got to go to the Mo…