“Wine is the most civilized thing in the world”, said Ernest Hemmingway.
It’s no wonder that wine has today become the backbone of corporate entertaining in India. Right from a private dinner party for select clients to elaborate corporate banquets; sparkling flutes of Champagne and glistening glasses of ruby red wine seem to be flowing at most business events, often becoming the center of conversation as people compare and comment on the body, texture, vintage or flavor of the wine being served. And herein lays the problem. How do you intelligently contribute to this conversation without sounding like someone who thinks Chardonnay was a stylish French actress? In the sophisticated business world, such a faux pas is not viewed as mere ignorance, but could potentially leave you flipside in the rat race compared to your associate who is showing off his cultured side in addition to his razor sharp banking skills.
But don’t give up hope just yet. You don’t need to fly off to the vineyards of France for an intensive course on enology.
All you need is a few tips for a smooth evening of Cabernets & Beaujolais’.
The basis of knowing wines lies in the grapes. For a businessperson, whose only concern is making sublime dialogue on the subject, identifying some of the more accepted grape varieties of red and white wine should do the trick. These I believe, you would effortlessly attain on most restaurant wine lists. For Reds: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. For whites: Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The pronunciation of these names can also every so often prove disastrous. I consider pronouncing correctly, especially if the desire is to make an impression. If you end up ordering a bottle, I recommend you call for a name that sounds proverbial, like the ones listed above. You can commence by ordering a sparkling wine or a glass of white wine as an aperitif to begin with, and proceed to a red and pair it with the main course. If it is a lunch meeting, I would suggest you ask for light bodied whites or rose wines.
Now that you have mastered the art of ordering wines, let us step towards the fundamental etiquettes of being served wines. Many a times, one finds oneself in a fancy restaurant entertaining an overseas client, and confused about the appropriateness of the ordeal of tasting wines. There is an opportunity to skim out of the process. Austerely offer your guest a taste of the wine instead, but only insist once. If he/she further contends on you doing the honor, still there is no cause to vex. The waiter will dispense a tiny quantity of wine in your glass. You rotate your wrist, holding the stem of the glass and then bring it up to your nose to take a whiff of the wine. Then take a tiny sip of the wine, and if pleasing to all your senses, communicate your approval to the waiter. Wait for him to fill both the glasses till a halfway mark, and then you can wish him cheers and be rest assured that your business associate is already considering you more than worthy of the deal you have been meaning to snap with him for so very long now.
Many corporate professionals have asked me about the precise way of holding the glass while they are mingling. Whilst you might indisputably give the impression of a flamboyant movie celebrity by holding the glass in between your fingers and poised on your palm, being around business colleagues might necessitate you to depict more refinement than that. Therefore, holding the stem of the wine glass securely, together with your thumb, index and middle finger will give the glass much more stability. This technique also ensures that the temperature of your wine will remain steady. The more contact you will have with the cup of the glass, the more tepid your wine will become. So if you are drinking a chilled white wine, or even having a red, it is only agreeable if you sip it at the desirable temperature.
With these few points in your jacket pocket, you will easily unearth your approach through all those wine and fine dine business dinners. It is astonishingly important for business heads to be versed with at least the fundamentals of wine. Since India has very recently learnt to take pleasure in wines while doing business, the traditions and gesticulations towards the protocols of wines are still quite novel for most business people. With wine becoming the more favored drink served at most corporate affairs, it is difficult to stay ignorant to the subject. Indulging in a basic wine knowledge session, or picking up a book from your nearest library is sure to make you seem more erudite and interesting at your next business dinner.