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What makes a memorable meal?

aperitif confidence digestif dinner etiquette event food formal gourmet memory research wine

Take a moment to think back to all of the most memorable meals that you had. What came to mind first? Was it the food? The Presentation? The wine? The company? The Ambiance? Was it the good humor?...or...Was it a combination of perhaps all of those things?

The memory is a complex and fascinating thing. Our recollections are a result of the things that most deeply touched our senses and had an impact on our innermost emotions. How we feel is just as important as why and what we feel during a moment that is going to be forever engraved in our hearts and minds.

When entertaining guests, think about what it means to truly entertain – that is, to amuse, enchant, and truly delight your guests. From the moment they they enter your home or venue, the most sincere welcome sets the tone for a most pleasant evening. The lighting speaks volumes for a welcoming atmosphere. Too cold of a lighting temperature could be just the catalyst to cause discomfort and eye strain causing all of your other hard work and coordination to be wasted.

Be sure to know beforehand by doing some simple research and take into consideration all of the different tastes, allergies, and eating styles of your guests. It is the right balance of care and personal touch that will have your guests thinking about your dinner long after its through. Always choose the freshest ingredients and don't skimp on quality of meats and seafood. You wouldn't want to be known as that person who made everyone sick. Don't sacrifice quality – ever!

Table setting can be very important to the overall ambiance of your event, so be sure to choose your table linens according to the season, level of formality, and for Heaven's sake...don't let it clash with your china and flatware. If you have a theme for your event or dinner party, try to set subtle table flair evocative of your chosen theme...but remember, a little goes a long...long way. Don't risk being tacky. If in doubt, don't use it at all and maintain confidence throughout the event that your restraint was well worth avoiding the later jokes at your expense.

Be sure to understand and plan which beverages to serve at your party. Be certain to have non-alcoholic beverages at hand for those who don't regularly celebrate in true bacchanalian fashion. It is important to choose your aperitifs according to season and pair them well with the flavors of the hors d'oeuvres that you will be serving. It helps to relax the company while in different surroundings and can be a nice conversation starter as well as provide a fantastic transition into the main course.

Nowadays, it has become increasingly acceptable to pair wines rather unconventionally across different protein pairs. If you have reservations about your own ability to pair wine with your food options, please do your guests and yourself a service by enlisting the help of a wine authority... they can be as close as your local wine seller or play the part of a sommelier at a neighborhood restaurant that you visit. They will be pleased that you thought of them for help and it will build a better rapport with them for the next time you dine out at the restaurant with your friends.

Finally, pairing your digestif with dessert can be the final touch to a fantastic meal with great company. Seasonality of ingredients and climate can play an important role in the selection of a heavier or lighter dessert. Be sure that the finale is your crowning achievement and be sure to have a steady flow of fine coffee and tea to serve after a meal such as this, or you may end up with unintended house-guests.

Lastly, finish off your event with a fine gesture of good will, thank your guests for coming and spending time with them a compliment, and wish them a pleasant good-bye. It will be the lasting sign of respect that will ensure you won't be forgotten. If you truly want your meal to be memorable, your fine attention to detail will surely be the talk of the town and the sign of a dinner party well-thrown.

Buon Appetito!

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