Why There Are So Many Wine Glasses On The Table At Royal Banquets

Learning silverware etiquette for fancy restaurants can be daunting enough. Which spoon to use and when, which fork should be used for the appetizers — now imagine you have several glasses in front of you, too. Suddenly, the plot thickens.

According to the Royal Collection Trust, State Banquets are held on the first evening of a State Visit, and around 170 guests are invited to attend. These extravagant events are mostly held at Buckingham Palace, but Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh have also been sites for the lavish dinners.

Staff at Buckingham Palace prepare for these banquets over a year ahead of time, according to The Royal Household. Polished silverware from King George IV's 4,000-piece Grand Service is carefully laid out, reports Hello Magazine, and flowers are tastefully arranged to suit both the event and the current season. According to another Hello Magazine article, place settings are spaced exactly 18 inches apart. Nothing is presented without careful consideration, and that includes the wine.

A royally curated experience

Deciding which wine to serve becomes an important pre-banquet discussion, notes The Drinks Business, as the offered wines must not cause any offense to invited guests but also showcase some of the country's own excellence. For instance, at President Barack Obama's State Banquet at Buckingham Palace, The International Wine and Spirit Competition notes that a prize-winning 2004 sparkling rosé from Sussex's Ridgeview Estate Winery was served alongside the white Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2004 (from France), a red Echezeaux Grand Cru 1990 (also from France), and the French Champagne Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Vintage Rich 2002. Of course, all the selected wines are highly rated.

Upon sitting in their designated seat, diners may be faced with not one, not two, but up to six crystal glasses (via Hello Magazine). While this may seem like a bit much, there is a good reason for the serving practice. As the shape of your wine glass can, indeed, impact whatever you're drinking, it only makes sense that at the finest establishments — especially banquets organized by royals — a range of options are offered, each intended for a specific wine, and one for water.