Tab Guide to etiquette: Champagne, caviar, and canapés

How to make it seem like you were born with a mother-of-pearl spoon in your mouth.

canapes caviar champagne column etiquette food poor

Welcome to “The Tab Guide to etiquette” column. Over the coming 8 weeks we will be looking at a range of social situations in order to demystify the etiquette that surrounds them, and prevent you from committing faux-pas.

Just a quick note. You may be wondering why you should care about etiquette; I will give you four reasons:

  1. Many of you have realised now that as much of a progressive, liberal town Cambridge is, it will always be a bastion of etiquette, and thankfully, that won’t change. So, “If you can’t beat them, join them”.
  2. Etiquette is not mean to exclude people, in fact, it does the exact opposite. It is adopted in the same way that schools adopt school uniforms – to put everyone on an equal footing, and ease social interaction as everyone behaves in a common, accepted manner.
  3. You’re still reading this article so, ipso facto, you are interested.
  4. Because I’m fucking tired of people taking my bread plate at formal, or hearing “lol, which knife do I use”.

Just like at any good event, we shall begin this column with Champagne, caviar, and canapés. Without further ado, here are a few DOs and DON’Ts.


DO chill the Champagne, preferably in an ice bucket. Just because the polar bears don’t have enough ice to live on doesn’t mean your Champagne bucket should be lacking.

Due to polar bears going extinct in the wild, I’ve put seeing them on my bucket list.

DO point it away from everyone. Corks can travel at up to 60km/h so be careful where you point the bottle – any accidents could be quite Champainful.

DON’T twist the cork. Hold the cork and twist the bottle instead. This gives you more control and prevents the cork from escaping. It always ruins a party when someone’s cork accidentally slips out and sprays white foam everywhere.

DON’T pop the Champagne cork. Just like when your supervisor receives your essay, you should hear a soft “sigh”.

DON’T touch the bottle lip onto the crystal glass. You are the crystal, and the bottle a “townie” – you are too good to be touched by them.

DO tilt the glass when pouring. Fuck society’s heteronormativity, your glass shouldn’t be straight.

If your college didn’t fly the LGBT+ flag last month then make a stand with you Champagne flute.

DO use the punt to pour the Champagne.  The punt is the concave bottom of the bottle but If you didn’t know that, you’re probably too far gone for this article to help; if your bottle doesn’t even have a punt then you really are too far gone.

DO fill up the glass a little, and then top up afterwards. Just like the refugee camp at the Calais border, you don’t want it to overflow.

DON’T clink glasses when toasting. You could very well damage the fine crystal glasses you are using: for those of you who don’t have crystal glassware (I mean you, Homerton polytechnic), it’s probably best if you just avoid Champagne altogether.


DON’T eat in bulk. Caviar is served with small spoons instead of wheelbar”roes” for a reason.

For those of you who didn’t get the pun verbally – I’ve heard jokes are always funnier when explained.

DO serve with Champagne or vodka. Whilst caviar will slow down the absorption of alcohol into your system, you shouldn’t rely on it too much, especially with lower quality stuff – as they say, caviar(t) emptor.

DO put the caviar on the pad of flesh between thumb and forefinger. When you eat the caviar off of your hand, you’ll inadvertently kiss yourself. My Mother taught me the importance of self-love, at least, that’s what I think she meant when she used to say “Go fuck yourself.”


DO eat in one mouthful. Canapés should be eaten in one to prevent messiness. Just remember that in one fell swoop you’re eating the average weekly provision of a South Sudanese family.

DO wait for a good moment to eat the canapé. You don’t want to eat a canapé just as you are introduced to someone; like a pig at Brasenose college, you don’t want to be caught with a sausage in your mouth.

DON’T be ambitious. If the canapé looks too fiddly, wobbly or large to eat delicately, it’s best treat it like it like the poor and avoid it.

“You can have too much of a good thing”

DON’T fill up on the canapés if you are to have a meal.  If you do find that you have eaten too much then, being undergraduates, undoubtedly you’re no stranger to the tactical chunder.

DON’T double dip your canapés in the sauces provided. As much as you think your saliva improves the flavour of the sauce, it doesn’t.

Next week we will be looking at afternoon tea; but for now, go and enjoy the Champagne socialism Cambridge has to offer.