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Pass the Port

#21
Paoli said:
I suspect that the Navy may have picked left as easy to remember (Port being left in matelot - why the hell is that? Now there's a question).
A bit off topic, but maybe I can answer Paoli's question.

Long before Port and Starboard the correct naval terms were Larboard (from loading board) and Starboard (from steering board), which on a windy storm battered deck on a high sea could quite easily be confused for one another. Potential for disaster.

The term Port for the left-hand side of a ship dates to the 16th century, but it was not until the 1840s that both the Royal and US Navies officially abandoned the term Larboard in favor of Port.

Most sources believe it is because the left-hand side of a ship was the side typically put next to the wharf or port, but it is quite possible that Port was chosen to replace the term for left because the Port was passed to the left.
 
#22
Just to further confuse the issue, I have attended formal dinners inside and outside the Armed Forces where the port should never leave the table. Pouring therefore requires angling the decanter on its side to pour your own glass. If you're at the far end of the circuit then it can be extremely tricky, requiring one to hold ones glass below the table edge to get the angle steep enough to eke some of the dregs into ones glass.

My personal opinion is that it's all b*llocks, but one should always be aware of the traditions of any given Mess or College because ones hosts may not think so.

IF
 
#23
The Royal Navy has a wonderful tradition concerning its toasts which I believe change depending upon the night of the week on which the dinner is being held.

I was on board HMS Fearless many years ago at a Ward Room dinner. The Toast was, "Wives and lovers." We all dutifully repeated the words and in the reflective silence which followed came the almost imperceptible whisper "...may they never meet."
 
#24
Jelly_Baby said:
Surely the RAF explanation is just the junior service trying to get some form of tradition. Nearly their centenary!
My old boss used to thunder as loud as possible if there was a crab within earshot: "Traditions be büggered - the RAF only have bad habits".

One more in the pot for touching/not touching the table. Messes (from 'mess of pottage') were originally formed through the officers clubbing together to buy food and the necessary eating implements (plates, cutlery etc) so that they might dine in a civilised fashion whilst campaigning. One of the major purchases was the mess table which would be built by local carpenters so that it might be broken down into mule-sized loads (hence the venerable multi-sectioned designs still found in some messes today). It was rather expensive so the PMC was apt to ban the port from touching the table to avoid 'warts' sliding it along like a cowboy's bourbon and damaging the most prized mess possession.

Contrast this theory with the fact that some tables like the Chilianwallah table belonging to 1 R ANGLIAN (I think) still bear the marks of the patient's spurs from when it was used by the surgeon as a makeshift operating table during the battle of the same name (Indian Mutiny 1857).

So there's damage and there's honourable damage.
 
#25
Not only does one have to master passing the port, do not forget about learning to pass the snuff as many Regts do as well.

Do not shoot a member of the RAF until you can see the whites of his socks.
 
#26
westwinger said:
The Royal Navy has a wonderful tradition concerning its toasts which I believe change depending upon the night of the week on which the dinner is being held."
Indeed. They are as follows:

Monday: Our ships at sea
Tuesday: Our men
Wednesday: Ourselves (because no bugger else will)
Thursday: Bloody wars and sickly seasons (swift promotion for us)
Friday: A willing foe and sea room (prize money aplenty)
Saturday: Wives and sweethearts...may they never meet
Sunday: Absent Friends
 
#27
The port stays on the table in the RN mostly so the ship wouldn't come up to meet the decanter when pitching and rolling. Nothing worse than lost alcohol.

Some people take it to the extreme and keep contact with the table when pouring. Bit messy sometimes though.
 
#28
Serving port in a decanter involves its own rituals. According to accepted tradition, it is the responsibility of the host to taste the port first and begin passing it with his left hand, clockwise around the table. The port is passed from his left hand to the right hand of the person on his left and it is the responsibility of each guest to serve himself (the decanter must never cross the table or be touched by the hand of a lady).

The fact that it is the left hand and not the right has its own historical reasons: it corresponds to the side of the heart and is in order for the right hand to remain free (the side of the sword) for any eventuality. :wink:
 
#29
I was sure that there was a thread about port on here but I've trawled every page of the Officers forum and it isn't there. Nor did it come up on a search, so I'll just put it here..

I have been given a bottle of Fortnum&Mason LBV port (1997, bottled 2002) and having looked on the internet and asked my friends I really haven't got the blindest idea when it will be best to drink it. I've never known anything practical about port and this has really thrown me.

Any ideas?

:?
 
#30
Berry Bros & Rudd on Vintage Port Drinkability
1997 Outstanding Hold
1995 Outstanding Hold
1994 Classic Hold
1992 Outstanding Hold
1991 Outstanding Hold
1987 Very Good Hold
1986 Good Hold
1985 Classic Drink or Hold
1984 Good Drink or Hold
1983 Outstanding Hold
1982 Good Drink or Hold
1980 Very Good Drink or Hold
1979 Average Drink
1978 Good Drink
1977 Classic Hold
1976 Average Drink
1975 Good Drink
1974 Average Drink
1972 Average Drink
1970 Classic Drink or Hold
1969 Average Drink
1968 Average Drink
1967 Very Good Drink
1966 Outstanding Drink or Hold
1965 Good Drink
1964 Good Drink
1963 Classic Drink or Hold
1962 Good Drink
1961 Good Drink
1960 Very Good Drink
1958 Good Drink
1957 Very Good Drink
1955 Outstanding Drink
1954 Very Good Drink
1952 Good Drink
1950 Very Good Drink
1948 Classic Drink or Hold
1947 Outstanding Drink
1945 Classic Drink or Hold
1942 Very Good Drink
1938 Good Drink
1935 Classic Drink
1934 Outstanding Drink
1931 Classic Drink
1927 Classic Drink
1920 Very Good Drink
1917 Very Good Drink
1912 Classic Drink
1911 Good Drink
1908 Outstanding Drink
1904 Outstanding Drink
1900 Outstanding Drink
 
#33
RTFQ said:
CIG,

1976 was an AWESOME year for Porn.

Ooops, no, wait. Sorry...what?
:lol: Thankyou for that, but I was only ten at that time. Maybe I was just a late starter as far as porn goes.

Well, you'd better go help with my cause. Go try some Por(t/n) searches on google. You might turn up something handy.
 
#35
Civilian_In_Green said:
RTFQ said:
CIG,

1976 was an AWESOME year for Porn.

Ooops, no, wait. Sorry...what?
:lol: Thankyou for that, but I was only ten at that time. Maybe I was just a late starter as far as porn goes.

Well, you'd better go help with my cause. Go try some Por(t/n) searches on google. You might turn up something handy.
No, on 2nd thoughts you are far too much of a pleb to appreciate good Vintage Port
 
#36
C-I-G
LBV Port can be drunk immediately and doesn't get better with age. Once you open the bottle you have to drink it within a couple of months - shouldn't be a problem :D

I got the following off www.wineint.com

Late-bottled Vintage (Port) (LBV) Officially, bottled four or six years after a specific (usually non-declared) vintage. Until the late 1970s, this made for a vintage port-style wine that matured early, was light and easy to drink, but needed to be decanted. Until recently, the only houses to persevere with this style were Warre’s and Smith Woodhouse, labelling their efforts “Traditional” LBV. Almost every other LBV around was of the filtered, “modern” style, tasted like vintage character ports, need no decanting, and bear little resemblance to real vintage or even crusted port. Belatedly, a growing number of producers are now confusingly offering “Traditional” as well as modern LBV. For the moment, buyers can tell one style from the other by reading the small print – and the word “Traditional”.
 
#37
Brilliant, I shall begin as soon as we break up for Christmas. It'll probably last till the New Year if I'm careful.

Thanks for the website link.
 
#38
There are more ' traditions' surrounding Port and toasts to make your head spin [ before imbibing ]...

In a number of infantry regiments the restriction on not letting the decanter touch the table is upheld..this 'tradition ' can be traced through the various units back to a ' common ancestor '.and stems merely from the requirement that all members of the mess be adequately and expeditiously served so that the toasts [ quite a few in many cases ] could be properly presented without lengthy delays, possibly brought on by some members/guests not paying attention and slowing up the pouring..etc..

Let's not get hung up on stuff.. Necessity begat tradition which was passed on and, without knowing the origins, it has devolved into mindless ritual devoid of any inspirational or regimental pride....In one unit in which I served..if the person receiving the decanter found it to be empty or without sufficent liquid to fill his glass he was required to stand up and call out " Mr. Vice! Permission To Pass Off ".. at this,if ackowledged, the steward would come forward and exchange the empty for a full new decanter.. It was often a source of merriment when a ' newbie' to the Mess forgot the proper terminology and called out to " Pass Out " or " Pass On " [ both quite possible in the older members ]...

Cavalry units which served in the Charge of Light Brigade had a tradition of setting a place for a horse at the officers' table complete with a bale of hay and the mount would dine with the men in honour of the steeds that fought and died bravely with their riders...I have a print of a Mess Dinner where a horse and rider rode across the room during the festivities...

In some Highland/Scottish regiments , the Regimental Toast is given with ' full Highland honours ' that is..the men stand on their chairs, place their left foot on the table and hoist the drink calling out a Gaelic Chant before downing the port and tossing the glass into the fireplace [ nowadays honoured in the breach as the cost of replacing crystal port glasses can be quite prohibitive ]..

another tradition among Scottish regiments is to have the water glasses removed from the table before the toast.. this is to prevent those units who had Jabobite antecedents or sympathies from passing the port over the water glass thus ' toasting ' the King across the water [ i.e. Bonnie Prince Charlie ] and thus honour the Stuart claim to the throne in the guise of toasting the reigning monarch...

Other mess traditions demand that certain regiments dine with their swords on..this goes back to the time when a regiment serving in India was attacked while the officers were dining and unarmed thus unable to defend themselves...

at least there's no ' secret handshake ' and silly password " My aunt wears a blue shoe .. " etc... needed for entrance to a good military booze-up...
 
#39
Rocketeer said:
There are more ' traditions' surrounding Port and toasts to make your head spin [ before imbibing ]...

In a number of infantry regiments the restriction on not letting the decanter touch the table is upheld..this 'tradition ' can be traced through the various units back to a ' common ancestor '.and stems merely from the requirement that all members of the mess be adequately and expeditiously served so that the toasts [ quite a few in many cases ] could be properly presented without lengthy delays, possibly brought on by some members/guests not paying attention and slowing up the pouring..etc..

Let's not get hung up on stuff.. Necessity begat tradition which was passed on and, without knowing the origins, it has devolved into mindless ritual devoid of any inspirational or regimental pride....In one unit in which I served..if the person receiving the decanter found it to be empty or without sufficent liquid to fill his glass he was required to stand up and call out " Mr. Vice! Permission To Pass Off ".. at this,if ackowledged, the steward would come forward and exchange the empty for a full new decanter.. It was often a source of merriment when a ' newbie' to the Mess forgot the proper terminology and called out to " Pass Out " or " Pass On " [ both quite possible in the older members ]...

Cavalry units which served in the Charge of Light Brigade had a tradition of setting a place for a horse at the officers' table complete with a bale of hay and the mount would dine with the men in honour of the steeds that fought and died bravely with their riders...I have a print of a Mess Dinner where a horse and rider rode across the room during the festivities...

In some Highland/Scottish regiments , the Regimental Toast is given with ' full Highland honours ' that is..the men stand on their chairs, place their left foot on the table and hoist the drink calling out a Gaelic Chant before downing the port and tossing the glass into the fireplace [ nowadays honoured in the breach as the cost of replacing crystal port glasses can be quite prohibitive ]..

another tradition among Scottish regiments is to have the water glasses removed from the table before the toast.. this is to prevent those units who had Jabobite antecedents or sympathies from passing the port over the water glass thus ' toasting ' the King across the water [ i.e. Bonnie Prince Charlie ] and thus honour the Stuart claim to the throne in the guise of toasting the reigning monarch...

Other mess traditions demand that certain regiments dine with their swords on..this goes back to the time when a regiment serving in India was attacked while the officers were dining and unarmed thus unable to defend themselves...

at least there's no ' secret handshake ' and silly password " My aunt wears a blue shoe .. " etc... needed for entrance to a good military booze-up...
COWAN" MY AUNT DOES WEAR A BLUE SHOE"
 
#40
The origins of the Chilianwala Table are obscure but it is now in the Officers’ Mess, TA Centre, Aylsham Road, Norwich.
'After the Battle of Chilianwala the bodies of 12 officers of the Norfolk Regiment and the RSM of the 24th Foot (The South Wales Borderers and latterly The Royal Regiment of Wales. Ed.) were laid out on it. It has 20 leaves each on four folding legs and is 39 ft 8 in (13 m in new money!) long.'
(From 'Office Officers' Mess - Life and Customs in the Regiments' by Lt Col RJ Dickinson)
 

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