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Modern Manners + Etiquette: Drinking With Your Mouth Full

Friday, November 23, 2012


Chew, then swallow? Swallow while chewing? Is it ever appropriate to take a bite and follow it immediately with a sip of wine? Didi Lorillard has the answer.

Infidelity via a condolence card?  Eating and drinking etiquette for the holidays. Who belongs in the family Christmas card photograph the new dog, the live-in-boyfriend, a deceased spouse? Amazing questions this holiday season at Didi Lorillard's Newport Manners.

Dear Didi,

I enjoy wine... now later in life even more so... but ONLY with food... recently I was raising the glass to drink a sip, WITH A MOUTHFUL OF FOOD - since I love the mingling mixture of wine on top of the food I just-started chewing, and the thought hits me... MANNERS!

Should I drink a sip BEFORE I put food in my mouth, AFTER I've chewed AND swallowed, or can I continue (my old ways, NO CHANGE!) and enjoy?... quandary, though only a knowing wife is present and forgives much.....I need help since I'm a small-town boy, come to the big-city... and need proper guidance! with respect and appreciation... J.P., Brooklyn, NY

Dear J.P.,

You want to savor your food and savor your wine but not all at once. Enjoy the pleasures of eating and drinking although not together. First one, then the other. Sip, swallow, then chew, swallow, and sip and swallow again.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,

Should a daughter's live-in boyfriend be included in the family Christmas picture if they're not yet engaged?  M.G., Narragansett

Dear M.G.,

It would depend on the formality of the picture. If the photo is of a friendly football skirmish in the backyard or a clambake bonfire on the beach, then it looks like family at play with friends. 

However, if it is a formal photo of the family, or your children, with the live-in boyfriend, I wouldn't use it. Because if the relationship doesn't work out and he's not in the family Christmas card next year, people will ask, "What happened to your daughter's live-in boyfriend?" And nobody likes to have to answer that one. For that reason, usually boyfriends, girlfriends, fiancés, and fiancées, don't make it into the family Christmas card until they are wed.

Adding anything other than the new family dog or baby into the Christmas photo opens the topic of who's he? "Is that Allison's fiancé or Lizzie's?" Friends and family will want wedding plan updates. Let your daughter and her live-in boyfriend's relationship fully develop before exposing it. If they want to send out their own Christmas card, let them choose the photograph.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,

My father-in-law passed away and my wife's ex-lover sent her mom $1000 with a card. In turn, my wife, her sisters, and my mother-in-law made a decision not to tell me. I feel betrayed by this action and have concerns as to who I can trust.  J.P., Boston

Dear J.P.,

This isn't the first time your wife betrayed you. In order to survive, sound marriages need  full disclosure. Your wife should have told you that her former lover sent a check and a card. If there is need in order to cover the cost of your wife's father's funeral, the money could certainly be used for that purpose. This is a question of ethics as much as etiquette. In my opinion, if the financial help isn't needed, your wife's mother should return the check with a short thank-you note. In other words, no one should use the check to buy herself a new outfit, shoes, and handbag.

As to the behavior of the mother and sisters, they betrayed you as well by not encouraging your wife to tell you about it. The big question is this. What else isn't your wife telling you? ~Didi

Dear Didi,

My husband of 37 years passed away two months ago after a long illness. As a Realtor I get very close to my clients during the home-hunting process. I would like to mention his passing in the Christmas cards I plan to mail out. Is this appropriate - and if so, please help me to come up with the words. It is still painful but I do feel I would like to share this. Thank You! Lynn, Norwich, CT.

Dear Lynn,

When we open a Christmas card we want to feel joyous, happy and cheerful. Being reminded of death and the deceased isn't festive. I am sorry for your loss. What I want you to do is this. Order your Christmas cards and make them from you. While going through your list and addressing envelopes, when you get to someone you and your husband knew well, with a pen draw an angled line (bottom left to top right) through your last name. Underneath, write something such as this, using an affectionate name for your husband: "Today and every day we remember Big Ed. Thank you for your wonderful support, love, Lynn."  ~Didi

Didi Lorillard researches shifting etiquette at NewportManners.com by answering questions on relationship dilemmas, wedding etiquette, business etiquette, entertaining, dress codes and manners. Or find Didi on Facebook,TwitterLinkedIn, or Pinterest after reading her earlier GoLocal columns, some of which are listed below.


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