Anyone who has spent time at a water cooler can tell you that business doesn’t just take place in the boardroom. At some point, you will be expected to socialize with the people in your professional circle. At the beginning of your career, that might mean bar trivia, or an after work kickball league. The higher you climb, the more important these business/social situations become, and the more sophisticated the surroundings. It is an inevitable truth that at some point, you will be judged by your taste in restaurants, choice in sports, and drinks you order. At a certain level of business, there is a high expectation that you know your wines and your alcohol. Some of the most successful businesses people ever will judge you on your understanding of wine and spirits.
Sobriety is the only exception to this rule, but if you are at a business dinner and order the house red to go with your porterhouse, colleagues and prospects will raise an eyebrow and question your judgment.
This may sound like an intangible way to judge a business interaction, but there is some antiquated logic behind it. High-end wine is very expensive – if you know a lot about varieties, regions, and vineyards, there is an unspoken understanding that you currently have or have had the means to experience luxury items, and that indirectly speaks to your business acumen. Over decades of doing business over dinner, a direct correlation has developed between successful businessmen and an understanding of the wines they consume.
So what do I order when I’m out at a business dinner? Tequila. Seriously. Pure agave tequila is the only liquor with no carbohydrates, and with the “tequila renaissance” our society is in, there are a lot of interesting things happening in production that actually mirror the wine industry…but I digress.
I have made it a priority to have a solid understanding of the wines from California, France, and Italy. I can identify the variety and country of origin by taste, and I have got a few favorite vineyards and vintages locked and loaded in case anyone asks. I would highly suggest anyone in business to develop the same knowledge. Start researching wines by region, buy a few bottles and try them, talk to the guys at the wine shop, and begin to build a mental catalog of favorites. If you can take care of the research now, then the next time you find yourself in front of a $100 steak, you won’t be left wondering what you should be drinking along side it.