DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I drink wine with dinner and know what types, brands and vintages we prefer. When we dine out, we usually order a bottle of wine we are familiar with.
Typically, there is an entire presentation: Show the wine, approve the wine, uncork the wine, sometimes smell the cork (I prefer it when they skip that step), pour a splash of wine, look at the wine, swirl the wine, smell the wine, sip the wine, approve of the wine again, and finally get to enjoy the wine with my husband.
Is there any way to skip all the extras? Can't we request our wine to be uncorked, then brought to us?
We would never send a bottle back, even if it wasn't exactly to our liking, so there's no need for all the presentation -- why not just enjoy? Also, after the wine is placed at or next to the table, if our glass runs dry should we wait or ask to be served again, or can we just pour it ourselves? We will be traveling and dining out every night, so any help would be appreciated.
GENTLE READER: Good luck. Those rituals are dear to many hearts, and generally mandated by pretentious restaurants.
Miss Manners understands that all this can become tedious. Some years ago, she was delighted to read of a wine critic who grew so annoyed at the accompanying flourishes that when the cork was presented to him ceremoniously, he ate it.
Having indecorously laughed at that, Miss Manners can hardly enjoin you from asking politely to have your bottle brought to you uncorked, and from refilling your own glasses. She only asks that you try not to crush the spirits of the wine steward or waiter.
Oh, and one more thing. Wine should not be sent back simply because the person who ordered it didn't like it, but only if it has turned or is otherwise undrinkable. Determining that is the point of the tasting. So if you skip that step, you may be drinking the undrinkable. With good grace, Miss Manners trusts.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: At my son's wedding, we are going to wear long black ties with the tuxedo. We are wondering if we have to wear a plain, unpleated tuxedo shirt, or can the tie go also with a pleated tuxedo shirt?
GENTLE READER: As you are presumably interested in correct dress, or you would not have written Miss Manners, please allow her to talk you out of those long black ties. They are proper at funerals, not at weddings. The Academy Awards telecast is not the place to observe gentlemanly dress. The suit you mention requires a pleated shirt and black bow tie.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it polite to ask how a person was injured, in this case the loss of a hand? My friend met an upbeat young man giving a lively tour of a restaurant. He seemed completely comfortable with his handicap, as though it had happened years back. Would it be impolite, in private, to inquire about his injury?
GENTLE READER: It would be hideously impolite, although it probably happens a lot. Miss Manners fails to see what business of yours that could be, and hopes that you do not go around asking to peek at other people's medical records.
(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.)