The sorbet course is served as a palate cleanser, and although it can be served at any time during a meal, it is most often served, before, during or after the main course. The sorbet course is often part of the fourth course in a seven-course meal or the second course in a four-course meal.
During a formal, seven-course dining experience, each course offers a different taste experience. The first course is often light and consists of food meant to stimulate the palate. This course may offer foods such as pasta or hot soup.
The second course is designed to lift the palate and is sometimes called an intermediate course. This is followed by the third course, usually the entree, which should not be confused with the main course. The entree is a light opener for the main course.
The fourth course is the main course and usually contains things like meats, vegetables and a starch. The sorbet usually comes after the main course is finished. After the sorbet, the fifth course may consist of things like cheese or a light cooked food.
The sixth course is what most people know as dessert. It is a sweet, light course meant to end the meal. The seventh and final course usually consists of fresh fruit meant to refresh the palate after a heavy meal.