Wine and Cheese in France – It’s more than just eating and drinking….

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Cheese and wine are absolutely central elements of the French diet and French food. In France, traditionally, people eat a warm meal in the middle of the day and then a lighter (often cold) meal in the evening. This food tradition coincides with the French philosophy of shutting everything down in the middle of the day for a well-deserved break. Children go home from school and adults go home to eat lunch together. This is gradually changing, but in general you will find this to be true when you visit France.

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The French are known for formality and politeness and at the table of the French, dining etiquette is absolutely a must.

For some reason, it is very rude to keep your hands in your lap while you are dining in France. It is equally rude to keep your elbows on the table and so the American diner must keep hands visible but elbows not. Also remember that the French almost never eat with their hands. This includes so called “finger foods.”  Remember- in France, the fork is your friend!

Serving Fork' pad of oversized papers is perfect for serving cheeses, breads or a spread of desserts. Place on your table and serve right off the paper. Also works well under wine bottles on a bar.:

French dining etiquette says that one should wait to have their glass refilled by someone else at the table. With cheese, it’s the opposite.  A platter of cheese will be passed around the table and you should take some of each cheese that you would like to eat and put it on your plate. Traditionally, the bread sits on the table instead of your plate, and you break off bite-sized pieces of bread and spread cheese from your own plate onto your bite of bread.

Bread will always be served with your meal. If you are dining formally, bread will get its own plate. However, if you have no bread plate, the bread rests on the tablecloth and not on your plate. There is also a manner in which you should eat bread. While most Americans may take a bite out of the bread–the French consider taking a bite out of a whole slice of bread to be rather boorish. Instead, tear off the bread piece by piece. If you are using bread to soak up sauce, use it on the end of a fork.

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Culturally-speaking, wine and cheese are central elements of a French meal. Fortunately, because the many variants and flavors of both wine and cheese are delicious, so developing a taste for the two is inevitable.

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The number one rule in French dining etiquette is to follow the host. If you do this and observe carefully, you will almost never err. This is particularly important when we’re talking about beginning to eat, drink or anything else. In general, it is polite to wait until everyone is served and then the host will begin eating. Likewise, if there is an aperitif served, you should wait until the host raises her glass before you raise yours and take a drink.

The WINE Table

A Wine-table is a late 15th-century device for facilitating after-dinner drinking, the cabinetmakers called it a “Gentleman’s Social Table.” It was always narrow and of semicircular or horseshoe form, and the guests sat round the outer circumference. In the earlier and simpler shapes metal wells for bottles and ice were sunk in the surface of the table; they were fitted with brass lids.

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The semi circle wine table below can be found on 1stdibs.com –as well, you can find many of our round and oval wine tables from Crown and Colony Antiques on the 1st Dibs site.  You may find all of our wine tables on www.crownandcolony.com located under the heading:

 Side Tables and Coffee Tables

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A 19th Century English Regency Semi-Circular Mahogany Hunt and Wine Display Table No. 4407

This tasing table above is a 19th Century English Regency Semi-Circular Mahogany Hunt and Wine Display Table and is from cmarianiantiques.com

Today’s French Wine Tables have evolved into oval and round shapes with flip tops so that easy storage is maintained.  Often times these type tables were pushed up against the wall in the wine cellar and pulled out, top flipped down and a table was available to serve wine for tastings.  These tables were and still are very common in most wine cellars.

The wine tables that are sold by Crown and Colony Antiques can be found at our culinary shop, AUBERGINE ANTIQUES.  Below is a beautiful picture of the entrance to our store that exudes all things French and specializes in the kitchen area and the celebration of French food and culture.  A wine table and rosemary filled confit pots greet our visitors!

ALL of our wine tables are quite beautiful.  We have oval and round shaped tables made of varying types of wood.  The legs are similar on each, yet different, and some are more refined while others are quite rustic.  Here are a few examples of what we have in stock.

Below are several pictures of one of our wine tables — This gives you a view from all angles and allows you to see how the top flips.  When the top is flipped down the table can be moved to allow for additional space in an area if needed or allows you to store the table if necessary.

Two of our more rustic Wine Tables — all are flip top. One is oval in shape and one is round in shape.

And remember we also carry FRENCH wine glasses.

Antique wine glasses - love these glasses!:

So enjoy your French Wine, Cheese and Bread on a beautiful wine table with nice French wine glasses, grapes and maybe an assortment of jelly spreads, olives and figs.  VERY FRENCH !!

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Au Revoir!  A La Prochaine!!