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How To Order Wine at a Business Dinner

business dinner entertaining wine world-class regions Aug 14, 2023

You’ve been asked to host a business dinner but the wine list is filling you with dread. How to order? What to order? Business Uncorked’s Sharon Kazan Harris has lectured thousands of business people on how to successfully navigate a wine list. Here she shares a few key things you can do, to arm yourself with enough knowledge to confidently order from a wine list with relatively little knowledge.


Business entertaining requires different wine choices than when you are enjoying an evening out with friends. In business, small details can add up to significant gains.

There are three important things to consider before selecting a wine for a business dinner:
•   Your knowledge of wine. Consider your familiarity with wine.
•   Who you are entertaining. You should choose a wine relative to the person’s company position and the importance of the relationship. For instance, a senior executive in charge of decision-making for a national account differs from an event intended to build trust with peers. Know that the more senior the executive, the more likely they are accustomed to fine wines, to have traveled to wine regions, and to collect wine.
•   The environment of the dinner: Fine dining restaurants are likely to have an extensive wine list and a sommelier on staff.

The less knowledgeable you are about wine, the more senior or important the client, the nicer the restaurant, the more crucial it is to choose a wine from a world-class region.
What does world-class regions mean?
•  A deep history of winemaking and prestigious recognition for producing outstanding wines.
•  Exceptional terroir and expertise in producing specific wines. World-class wines are known for certain varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir.
•  Wines that are collected and stored in private wine cellars.
•  Wines that feature widespread discussion in both the wine press and business press. A world-class wine typically earns critical acclaim and recognition from wine experts and enthusiasts worldwide.



Why world-class makes sense?
This means you don’t have to worry about knowing a specific winery in a world-class region since most wines from these regions are recognized as among the very best in the world. They achieve a level of excellence that sets them apart from others, and are typically made using the highest quality grapes and meticulous winemaking techniques. Even if you don’t personally enjoy the wine, ordering wine from a world class region will ensure a strong statement of quality.
Here are three world-class regions for the three most popular varietals often found on fine dining wine lists:
•  Napa Valley: Cabernet Sauvignon
•  Russian River Valley: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
•  St Emilion & Pomerol: Merlot



If you're interested in a list of the top 12 world-class regions and their corresponding grape varietals, you can download our free pocket guide, which includes information on varietals, regions, and food pairing recommendations.

How about a cheat sheet on Wine and Food Pairings from RARECAT Wines for the 12 most important wine varietals found on menus in the US.  Free.  Click here.

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