Is it poor etiquette to taste wine with a mouth full of food?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I have a question about wine manners at the dinner table. I assist a visually impaired wine collector who likes to pair wine with food, but he runs into problems when tasting wines and foods together—occasionally some food falls into the wineglass due to his blindness. Would you recommend tasting wines and food together or in separate bites to best experience a wine pairing?

—Robert, Dallas, Texas

Dear Robert,

There’s no right or wrong way to enjoy food and wine together. You can take a sip of wine on its own, try the food on its own, or mingle the two in your mouth, or sniff the wine while chewing. I usually do all of these things when I’m enjoying my meal. Keep in mind that saliva helps both break down food and wine flavors and aromas, so I do like to start chewing my food sometimes and discreetly take a sip of wine, as well as take a moment before swallowing to let my saliva do its thing.

I can imagine how this could be more challenging for the visually impaired. My best advice is to take small bites and go slowly so you feel that you have as much control over the process as possible. If you notice that some food has found its way into a glass of wine, you could discreetly suggest refreshing the glass.

—Dr. Vinny

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