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Your lifestyle, your quirk
When I first started working for a mid-sized publisher, I was fresh out of college. Though I had been old enough to legally drink for a number of years, I hadn’t quite acquired a taste for wine. It turned out my boss was a wine connoisseur, and most other employees had a good grasp on wine concepts. Each time we’d have a business dinner, the rest of my coworkers would carefully discuss which wine to have with our meal. At company parties, most employees used their drink tickets for the fancy wines. At one dinner, when asked what kind of wine I liked best, I nervously blurted out the wrong answer: “I’ll drink anything.”
I suppose it was a little true; I would have swallowed whatever wine was put in front of me to make a good impression, but it made me sound like an indiscriminate lush…or an ignorant newbie to alcohol. My later response, “White wine,” also made me look uneducated in the field of fermented grapes. Then there was the time my boss let me handle the wine presentation, as if I knew what I was doing or tasting.
It is these embarrassing professional experiences that have led me to try to save you some of the humiliation. At some point, you may need to pick up a glass of wine to look sophisticated at a business function, on a date, at a fancy party, or when you meet potential future in-laws, so here’s how to fake your way through.
Choosing wine can be daunting. If you’re not a big wine drinker, I recommend starting out with a white wine. It’s lighter and typically sweeter than red, though it depends on the type. Primer says that good red wines are harder to find, so white is a bit more foolproof. If you’re looking to pair a wine with a specific dish, white goes well with lighter foods like fish, pasta with a vegetable or cream sauce, and spicy foods. Red wine pairs well with meat and poultry, salmon, and pasta with tomato sauce. Popular white wines that are usually popular are Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, according to Primer, but I find Chardonnay is a good go-to. California Pinot Noir is a safe bet for reds.
Now that you have your wine, you must hold it properly. Always hold the glass by the stem, pinched between your thumb and index finger. Holding the glass by the bowl will cause the wine to warm up, which can affect the flavor of white or sparkling wines. Real Simple says that being warm won’t change the flavor of most reds, but you should still hold your glass of red wine by the stem so that you can properly see the color and clarity of the wine. Or, you know, so you can pretend you’re looking at the color and clarity of the wine. It will also help you to avoid the telltale fingerprints that tell the world you held the glass incorrectly.
If you have trouble holding the glass by the stem, it’s probably too full. According to Real Simple, a “wine glass should only be a quarter to a third full.” If you’re pouring your own glass, make sure not to fill it to the top. Not only will it be hard to hold, but you’ll look like you’re hitting the wine bottle pretty hard.
The most important thing when trying to look sophisticated with wine is that you must keep your consumption moderate. If you want to impress the people around you, becoming a hot, drunk mess won’t help. Anyone who has been to a few office parties has likely seen (and later gossiped about) the one coworker who was three sheets to the wind. Don’t be that coworker. Don’t be the first date horror story or the woman that your soon-to-be ex’s parents laugh about for years. Be the poised, professional woman your job calls for…with wine. If you don’t drink, say so. The people around you should respect your decision, and you can look just as fancy balancing a glass of water.