The proper placement of wine & water glasses on a formal table setting

Updated April 17, 2017

When you host a formal dinner party, you want to have the cutlery and glasses set on the table correctly to conform with dining etiquette. Cutlery should be set on the table for each individual course and a glass for each anticipated drink.


In a formal place setting, forks go on the left, knives on the right with the first to be used on the outside, the one to be used in next course in one from the first, and so on. Soup spoon goes to the right of the knives. The dessert spoon and fork are placed above the place setting with the fork closest to the diner.


Glasses are placed above the knives in order from left to right -- water goblet, white wine glass, red wine glass and champagne flute. If you're not serving champagne or a specific wine, do not set the glass. The glasses may be angled a little, with the water goblet furthest from the diner.


If courses are to be served formally, the dinner plate should be placed between the cutlery with a smaller plate for hors d'oeuvres on top of it and, if necessary, a soup bowl on top.

Serving and Clearing

Food is always served from a guest's left, empty plates removed from the right, and drinks served from the right-hand side.

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About the Author

Michael Mason started content writing in 2006. He has had articles published on, and He was educated at Bromsgrove School in England and at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, England, where he graduated as a naval officer and majored in air warfare and navigation. He is a retired naval aviator.