How to choose the right wine at a business lunch

How to Choose the Right Wine at a Business Lunch

You’ve been invited to a business lunch, and you’ve been offered to choose the wine. If you’re an expert sommelier, then choosing the right wine to pair with your meal should be a breeze. But most of us don’t have that type of expertise. And when you open up the wine menu, you have absolutely no idea where to start.

This type of dilemma happens so often in business and in social situations. I’ve compiled some tips and advice that will hopefully help you if you’re asked to choose the wine at your next business lunch.

Don’t Fake It

If you’re asked to choose the wine for the table and you’re clueless as to which wine would pair well with your meal, don’t fake it and take a lucky guess. Be honest and say “I’d love to choose for the table, but wine is not my strong point, so I’d rather let you choose”. Your host will not want to make you uncomfortable.

Fish Pairs Best With White Wine or Rosé

Fish has a lighter flavour and can easily be overpowered by red wine. If others in your dining party have chosen fish as their main course, your safest option is to choose a white wine, or a dry rosé. Although it comes down to the type of fish, the sauce served with the fish, and personal taste, generally a dry white wine (Chardonnay or dry Riesling) and dry rosé will work best with fish.

Beef and Lamb Pair Best With Red Wine

Red is the standard option when it comes to beef and lamb. Living in the Rhône-Alpes region in France, I’ve come to love a glass of Côte du Rhône which I find pairs perfectly with beef and lamb. If the restaurant you’re dining at does not have this option, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Bordeaux, or even Pinot Noir will pair well instead.

Chicken Can Be Paired with White or Red Wine

Since the choice here is white or red, it’s best to ask what your dining party prefers. Or, choose a bottle of each. For the white wine, you can choose Riesling, Chardonnay, or Pinot Blanc which all work well with chicken. If your dining party prefers red wine, then a Pinot Noir, Shiraz, or Beaujolais will work too.

The above tips are simply suggestions based on a typical main course. Of course, wine pairing can get a lot more complicated than this depending on the sauce your meat is served with and the accompaniment you have chosen. I hope the above guide will give you a little more confidence when choosing wine for your next business lunch.

Let’s talk about wine in the comment section below! If you ordered chicken, would you prefer to pair it with a red or white wine?

For more tips on dining etiquette, click these links to read “4 Table Manners to Impress at a Business Lunch“, and “How to Eat and Talk During a Business Lunch“.

[Header image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Graphics added by Kara Ronin.]

About Kara

Kara Ronin is an international business etiquette expert and founder of Executive Impressions. Kara’s advice and unique perspectives have been featured in Time Inc., Business Insider India, Ignites Europe (a Financial Times Service), The Daily Muse, Women 2.0, and more. Kara offers corporate seminars and online training programs on business etiquette, leadership skills, and executive communication around the world. Get Kara's insights delivered straight to your inbox