Organising a business dinner can be stressful with so many things to consider and so much on the table. From the guest list and seating arrangements through to planning the menu, it's important to get everything right if you want to make a good impression. Perhaps more than anything else, it's how you plan and pick your wine that has the biggest impact on how your event is perceived. Great wine experiences rarely happen by accident, they require research, budgeting, and enough bravery to step into the unknown.
There are more wine choices out there than ever before, which is both good and bad. While it's fantastic to have the world's greatest wines at your fingertips, selecting individual bottles and matching them with food can be challenging. Freedom of choice always comes with a sense of responsibility, with research being the best way to make sure you're choosing the best drop.
Before you even look at a wine list, you should acquaint yourself with food pairings based on your restaurant or menu of choice. You can go online or ring the restaurant prior to the dinner in order to access the wine list, with personal recommendations from the manager or sommelier always being a good idea. Without help from the experts, people will always gravitate towards what they know. Even if you're comfortable picking out a great bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay, more obscure wine choices will be enjoyed by your clients and are much more likely to leave a lasting impression.
Everyone wants to impress their clients during a business dinner, but that doesn't mean you have to go crazy. While a $500 bottle of vintage wine might seem like a good way to show confidence, it may have the opposite effect. Think about it for a second. Would you rather do business with someone who splashes out on impulse or someone who knows how to stick to a budget? Most sommeliers will understand your need for a budget so don't be afraid to discreetly point to a price and ask to stay within a particular price range.
Generally speaking, you should never choose the cheapest or the most expensive options on the wine list. Not only are medium-priced bottles more sustainable when it comes to budgeting a meal or event, you'll also get much more choice. Selecting wines from lesser-known growing regions can be a great way to save money and venture into the unknown, so why not go for a German Riesling, a Spanish Albarino, or closer to home, a Braossa Shiraz?
They say fortune always favours the brave, and when it comes to business dinners, this is undoubtedly true. While everyone can pair seafood with Chardonnay or a Cabernet with steak, this level of wine knowledge and food association is unlikely to make you any new fans. Venturing into the unknown will impress your clients and help you to save money. By choosing local wines such as Eden Valley Pinot Noirs and Mudgee Merlots, you can create a conversation around your selections and add a degree of authenticity to your dinner.
Being brave isn't just about making novel wine choices, it also means asking for help when you need it. No one expects you to be a wine expert so don't be afraid to talk to the sommelier and get some local advice. Wine pairing doesn't have to be perfect, but it should always be fun and adventurous. Choosing unknown wines is a great way to educate your clients, add a degree of novelty to your dinner, and leave the kind of lasting impression that all business dinners strive to achieve.
There's much more to the Barossa and Eden Valleys than delicious, Australian wines. Of course, you should try some incredible wines while you're there, but the entire area is filled with wonderful things to see and do.
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