Table Manners: 5 Dining Rules To Remember

Table Manners: 5 Dining Rules To Remember

Recent research from Bisto points out once again that in the UK many of our most enduring table manners are gradually eroding. Bisto is sponsoring a “Power Down For Dinner” campaign. The survey revealed that 25 percent of Brits no longer regard table manners as important.

Rules for dining out

Statistics You Should Know

  • 25 percent of polled participants (3,000) talking with a mouth filled with food was acceptable.
  • 40 percent reported that eating with their fingers is acceptable.
  • 29 percent said it was acceptable to leave the table before other diners had completed their food.
  • Shockingly, 39 percent thought it was acceptable to use cell phones at the dinner table.
  • 40 percent said it was acceptable to begin eating before everyone is served.
  • 11 percent said it was unimportant to say “please” or “thank you” when requesting food be served or passed.
  • Many participants said they more often eat on a sofa, watching tv than they do at a dinner table. Only 39 percent regularly eat at a dinner table.

Almost 50 percent said family dinners were outdated. Carrie Longton, co-founder of Mumsnet, who funded the Bisto study, said; “Whilst it is understood that families should take the time to eat together, mums have expressed that this is a daily struggle and have sought advice on how to achieve these special occasions.”

Table Manners to Remember

Despite the undeniable erosion of table manners, there are a few staples that are not only polite but make sense.

  1. The host or hostess should be the first person to raise their fork or spoon. The host or hostess will begin when all food is served to all seated parties and not before. No guest should eat before the host or hostess has tasted a morsel. Food should always be tasted before any condiments are added. To add condiments before tasting is an insult to the chef.
  2. When eating soup, tilt the soup cup or bowl outward and move the spoon outward  before lifting to the mouth. Do not drink the soup. Soup is meant to be sipped from the side of the soupspoon, not from the end. The knife should never enter the mouth or be licked. Food should be chewed with a closed mouth and one should not talk while chewing food or while there is food in the mouth.
  3. White wine should be consumed by holding the stem of the glass. Red wine should be consumed by cupping the wine bowl of the glass and lifting to the mouth. Wines should be served according to a prescribed sequence. The rule is white wine before red wine, light wines before heavy wines, young wines before old wines. It is acceptable to refill your own glass but it is polite to ask those on either side if you could fill their glass before filling your own.
  4. It is impolite to reach for food. It is polite to ask fellow diners to pass food to you. Diners passing food should pass it along as direct a route as is possible.
  5. Upon completion, the diner can signal that he or she has finished by placing their knife and fork together neatly on the plate with the tines up. No diner should leave the table until the host or hostess signals the end of dining. Napkins should be left unfolded on the dinner table.


These are five basic rules to dining etiquette, and are most important when eating out at a high quality restaurant. There are many others, such as always making sure that women are seated first. Males should pull the chair away for the women and help push the chair into the table once the lady is seated. When any female member at the table rises, the males at the table should also stand. Of course, that means helping to pull the chair back from the table. When the female returns to the table, all males should rise again and one should assist with the chair.

Like all table manners, this is easy, comforting and the right way to conduct one’s self. Table manners in the UK may be on the decline but they say still a lot about you.


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