For any of you who have been reading the thread I started about wine with pineapple, you know the background to this story. I was hosting a dinner party that I wanted to be perfect. One of my neighbors is a Math professor who spends as much time as possible in Paris and cooks these fabulous French five-course meals with a perfect stunning wine matched to each course. He was going to be one of my guests. Needless to say I wouldn't dare to cook French food for him, so I went with one of my own strengths, Italian. So I asked you winehounds what wine to pair with my first course, a home-cured bresaola. I didn't even bother to try to pair the other courses, because I knew my guests would bring wines that they would want to drink, and a good pairing with five courses would add up to more than my wine budget for the month (ok, I don't have a wine budget, but you get the point).
So I served a 2004 Domaine Tempier Bandol with the bresaola. When my Math prof friend saw that he said he wanted to go back home (he lives in the same complex as I do) and get some other wines from his cellar because the ones he brought were not at the level of the Bandol, I pooh-poohed that idea, saying one should always serve the best wine first, before anyone was drunk, and we could move on to lesser wines. I thought that was the principle everyone believed in. He replied that this is a Swedish (!) attitude, but that the French attitude is to serve progressively better wines. I was struck by the fact that Sweden is not known for wine production and wondered if my so-called principle was very much ill informed.
What do you guys think? Best wine first or last? And does this principle indeed vary by country? I know it's a generalization, but one can generalize about food and wine habits by country with some fair degree or accuracy, right?