Tag Archives: ordering wine

Wine and the Business Dinner

3 Sep

If you’re new to the wining and dining aspect of your job and your wine knowledge is fairly limited, then ordering wine for your lucrative clients at a business dinner could be rather intimidating. We all want to look like we have some knowledge when the decision on ordering wine is in our hands. You want to consider your guests’ tastes, the food that is being ordered and the budget. If the sky is the limit on budget it can be even more intimidating as you still want to make a good impression and wasting money is never viewed as strong business acumen.

My suggestion is to get a group of your colleagues together and hire someone like me to help you out. You need some wine knowledge to remove the intimidation factor from ordering wine. You want to know what wine smells like when it’s ‘corked’. You need to have some basic understanding of pairing wine with food. It’s good to learn the language of wine so that you can ask the sommelier for guidance in a knowledgeable way. A lot of people stick with ordering the same wines all the time because they can pronounce the name. A word like Trockenbeerenauslese can roll off the tongue once you’ve heard it said out loud. Knowing that most wine geeks refer to it as TBA is also handy. There are some wines regions that don’t name the grape in the wine because they all know what it is. You’ll know too, once someone has told you. Being told that Champagne is in order is always a good sign but ordering Henkell Trocken (hey, it has bubbles right?) is probably going to raise an eyebrow or two.

The one main theme that I want to bring to the table is that wine doesn’t have to be intimidating. I want to foster an atmosphere of open discussion that is comfortable for even the newest of wine neophytes. It would be so satisfying to walk a group of business people through the basics of ordering wine then send them off to a restaurant together with wine knowledge fresh in their minds, keen to put their new skills to the test. This sounds like a great idea for a company team event!


Contact me at bytheglasswineclub@gmail.com to arrange wine training for your next team meeting.


Sending wine back at a restaurant and other lessons

5 Jul

Last night a bunch of us went out for dinner and it fell to me to choose a wine. We wanted white so I went with a BC gewurztraminer from a winery that I really like. Not all the wines on their list had vintages but I didn’t really think much of it. Silly me! When it came I glanced quickly as it was presented and didn’t check the vintage. It was poured and it smelled funky! I swirled a couple of times and felt the pressure to make a decision – ugh! I hate it when this happens. I know the server didn’t make the wine so there’s really no need for me to worry that I’m offending anyone but it’s still makes me feel awkward. When a wine is obviously corked it’s easy: there’s no debate. Finally I admitted that it really wasn’t smelling right. No problem – it was taken back right away. It was when the second bottle came out that I noticed it was a 2009. Hmmm, perhaps that’s why I wasn’t getting the freshness I’d hoped for and why the vintage wasn’t listed on their menu. Were they trying to flog old stock on to unsuspecting customers? Hopefully not. The second bottle was marginally better but really not what I expected.This time the owner came over and he wasn’t willing to concede that this wine was past its prime. I didn’t want to push it, I know when to pick my battles, so we agreed to go with it.

The people I was with were really happy that I’d made the call on the first bottle. They smelled it too and were not impressed. None of them work in the industry and sending a bottle of wine back would probably make them feel even more uncomfortable than it does me. It sucks to think of how many customers suffer through a faulty bottle rather than say something. My advice though is to definitely solicit another opinion if you’re unsure. Even if the staff don’t fully agree they may prefer to switch your wine rather than have you feel disappointed.

The obvious lesson I learned is to ask, or check before the wine is opened, what the vintage is. Before we ordered the next bottle of BC riesling we did just that. Our server was happy to go check and sure enough it was 2011. Perfect! It was so fresh and lively and exactly what we were all in the mood for.

I was out having a casual dinner and wasn’t thinking so seriously about the wine. Now I know that if I have a certain expectation then I do need to pay more attention when ordering at a restaurant. I always check the vintage when I’m in a store. Perhaps someone really did expect this wine to hold up longer than it did but I wasn’t in the mood for an aged BC gewurz! To each their own.