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Pass the Port

British port wine drinking customs.


Pass the Port
Photo © RFB Photography


Myths and traditions surround the drinking and enjoyment of port more than any other wine.

Passing the Port
The most widely known tradition is believed to come from British naval customs for serving the wine. The decanter of port is placed in front of the host who then serves the guest to his right, then passes the decanter to the guest on his left (port-side). The port is then passed to the left all the way back to the host.

If the Port doesn't come back
If the decanter does not come full circle back to the host, it is impolite to ask for it directly. Instead the host asks the individual closest to the decanter, if he knows the bishop of Norwich or any other village in England. The question is not to provoke a reply but action the immediate passing of the port. Should the unfortunate offender answer the question by saying "No," is told that "the bishop is an awfully good fellow, but he never passes the port!" sparking, hopefully, the individual to realize he is hogging the decanter.

Decanting the Port
When decanted at the table, the bottle of Port should be finished in one sitting. Not recommended if there are only a few guests!

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