Finally after several years writing a blog which blatantly says in the contact details section “If you want to email me or buy me champagne” someone has taken me up on the offer. Not just someone, the lovely people behind Laurent-Perrier Grand Siécle which is only one of the latest and greatest champagnes from the prestigious Laurent-Perrier house of champagne. This is a champagne made from three vintages only from grand-cru vinyards and sells for £35 a glass at the Mandarin Oriental. Let’s just say that when I was invited to go and drink copious glasses of the stuff while feasting on matched canapés and listening to Lucia Van der Post talk about etiquette I did not need much convincing.
Clutching a glass of the precious Grand Siécle I met David Hesketh, master of wine and UK managing director of Laurent-Perrier. He talked briefly about the origins of the Laurent-Perrier house (which took me back to happy memories of my travels in the Champagne region
) and told us champagne was the hardest of all wines to taste. He said: “The Grand Siécle is a champagne for epicureans, it works very well with food.” Sounds like my type of drink then.
To prove the point the Mandarin Oriental matched the champagne with canapés of smoked salmon, discs of foie gras and spoons topped with creamy mushroom risotto. On the sweeter side there were tiny serves of pear compoté topped with cream and bowls of chocolate sticks. The smoked salmon and the pear was probably the best match for the vibrant, honeyed taste of the champagne.
The canapés on offer
Then it was on to Lucia van der Post, the woman behind The Financial Times’ How to Spend It
magazine and author of the etiquette guide Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me
. Lucia said etiquette was nothing to do with whether you say toilet or loo (a particularly English dilemma I think,we have other words for it in Australia) or use the right glasses. In her definition, well mannered people are those who never do anything to hurt others.
David Hesketh demonstrates how to open a bottle of champagne – with an angel’s kiss
Lucia’s top tips are:
- be punctual: “being late assumes other peoples manners are worse than your own”;
- dress well: “it is a form of politeness”;
- send thank you letters for dinners or the opera (if you go to the opera that is);
- send presents when you stay over night; and
- if you host a dinner use seating plans which are, in Lucia’s view, “an act of generosity”.
A few final words from the etiquette guru herself: “The core of the matter is thinking of other people. Etiquette smooths the wheels of social conduct and civilises the uncivilised.”
And here was I thinking that was what champagne did!
Sweet canapés including pear with cream and chocolate sticks
Details: The Mandarin Oriental Bar, 66 Knightsbridge, Knightsbridge SW1X 7LA (Ph 020 7235 2000) Tube: Knightsbridge
Damage: Budget breaking but I wasn’t paying.
If you liked this you might be interested in my review of the Mandarin Oriental’s Bar Boulud
or if you want to find out more about champagne you can read my posts about France’s champagne region