Alan Richman offers advice on how to choose the second bottle of wine at dinner.
I have a friend who believes the first bottle establishes your credibility as a wine person, whereas the second is about relaxation and enjoyment. I disagree. To me, the second bottle is the one that counts. The first douses thirst. The second descends, vaporizes, enriches, inflates. It must be better than the first, and only after it's admired can you relax.
But I was amused by his thoughts on the bottles beyond that as well.
The third? Irrelevant. By then, if it's just the two of you and you're drinking that much, it's love. If you're at a table of four, the topic of wine will have been supplanted by baseball or the stock market, subjects more easily understood. The fourth bottle, if there is one, should always be big, red, and inexpensive, because by then nobody will know what the hell he's drinking.