Whether it’s a business meeting with important business partners or a Christmas party with your colleagues, it’s important to look your best at the table. We’ve put together a few tips on how you can make a good impression with beverage knowledge.
Drinking at the table: the ultimate etiquette guide
In order not to embarrass yourself at business events, it is never wrong to know a few basics from etiquette. When it comes to drinks alone, there is a lot to consider, such as the various customs when toasting, choosing the right wine for the respective dish, and deciding on the right glass. With our know-how, you can avoid putting your foot in your mouth in the future and instead turn out to be an expert on the subject of drinks.
This must be taken into account:
Germany - Spain - USA
- Different customs for toasting
- Choice of the appropriate wine for each dish
- Decision for the right glass
Always the right drop for every dish
The next topic is taste, and as we all know, taste is a matter of debate. Nevertheless, a few basic combinations have become established that simply go together particularly well, such as a red wine with strong beef or a fresh white wine with fish dishes. With dishes such as lamb, which are served less frequently, it is usually more difficult to find the right wine. Here it helps to concentrate on the individual flavors that can be tasted. It is not only the method of preparation that brings out clear differences here; the accompanying ingredients also play a role. The same applies to everything that is less familiar to us in culinary terms, such as various seafood or dishes with unusual spices.
- For meat dishes: Red wine
- For fish dishes: White wine
- With lamb: Pay attention to suitable flavors
Tip. Non-alcoholic wines at business lunches
Many are even more uncertain when it comes to non-alcoholic beverages, which we like to resort to during business meetings. Still water or sparkling water is the safe option, but in the long run it’s also kind of boring. The frequently served soft drinks such as cola or various sodas, on the other hand, usually don’t really harmonize in terms of taste – no matter what is served with them.
Non-alcoholic wines fully in trend!
For this occasion, non-alcoholic wines are the perfect choice. This way, you can do without alcohol , but still enjoy it. Since non-alcoholic wines are currently very trendy, there is a correspondingly large selection of select drops that are in no way inferior to the alcoholic variants in terms of taste, complexity and variety. If you can stand out at business meetings with your knowledge of non-alcoholic wines, you will certainly positively surprise one or the other business partner. After all, many wine connoisseurs are not even aware of how much enjoyment there is in non-alcoholic wines.
Which wine is drunk depends on the food:
The right glass for the drink: guide
No sooner has the right drink been found than we face the next challenge: which glass from the buffet’s arsenal should we choose to go with it? First of all, a few simple rules can help here, because the range of different glasses will usually not be that extensive:
- Handle glasses
Let’s take a brief look at the individual glasses in detail:
Tumbler glasses: long drinks & beer
Slim and taller tumbler glasses are perfect for water, soft drinks as well as for long drinks or even special types of beer such as Kölsch. In the slightly lower version with a solid bottom, aperitifs or other alcoholic beverages are often served on ice.
These drinks are served in beakers:
- Soft drinks
- Long drinks
- Special beers
Stemware: The shape makes the difference
Glasses with an elegant stem are used for a wide variety of spirits. The focus here is on the shape of the cup – it has a decisive influence on the aromas of the drink. For wine alone, numerous different shapes have become established. As a rule of thumb, the slightly smaller glasses are for aperitifs, digestifs and white wines, while larger and bulbous ones are for red wine and brandies. Slender, tall glasses suit sparkling wines and other sparkling wines.
The different stemware at a glance:
- Small glasses: aperitifs, digestifs and white wines
- Large glasses: red wine & brandies
- Slim, tall glasses: sparkling & semi-sparkling wine
Handle glasses: beer & hot drinks
Smaller handle glasses can be used for hot drinks. Higher and larger ones are mostly for beer.
The shape of the stem glass affects the aroma of the wine:
Avoid embarrassing blunders around catering
No matter how careful you are, you’re bound to put your foot in it around the next corner. In the event of a mishap, it helps to take the right approach and still appear confident.
Dispose of the tea bag in style
When tea is ordered, the question often arises of what to do with the tea bag. Placed on its own saucer, it not only looks annoying, but can also stain. It is better to get a separate small plate or bowl to dispose of the tea bag in style.
Tip: Order small bowl for the tea bag
Refill: Yes or No?
The next scenario: Your own glass has already been drunk, but your business partners and colleagues are not yet ready. Is it allowed to top up the glass yourself? In fact, this is considered impolite at the table, unless you are the host yourself. At a buffet, on the other hand, the situation is easier to resolve. Here, you can gladly take the initiative – at best by asking if anyone else would like a drink.
Quick help and an apology are mandatory
The classic embarrassment is certainly the knocked-over wine glass or a spilled drink – possibly on the chic business outfit of your counterpart. Even if the clumsiness went unobserved, it is inappropriate to cover up the mishap. Attentive catering staff will always try to help. If a stain has appeared on clothing or table linen, a dry cloth can be offered as a first aid. In addition, an apology is appropriate. In the case of clearly visible stains that cannot be easily removed, an offer should also be made to pay for the damage and to cover the cleaning costs.
- If required: bear cleaning costs
Each country has its own unique toasts and customs. More about that in a moment:
Proper toasting in every round
As markets and international business relationships grow together, we are often confronted with different cultural customs. If you have some insider knowledge about the customs of other countries, you can quickly break the ice at meetings and gain sympathy points.
Toasts in Italy, France & Co.
A successful business meeting already starts with the right reception of the guests and continues with the skillful small talk and during the common meal.
In an assembled gathering, the host usually deserves the honor of raising a glass. A “Cheers!” also sounds a bit classier than “Cheers!”. The appropriate counterparts in various countries are as follows:
- Salute! or Cin Cin! (Health, Cheers) – Italy
- Salud! (Health) – Spain
- À vôtre santé! (To your health) – France
- Sa sdarovye! (To health) – Russia
- Cheers! – USA, Australia
- Kanpai! (To your health) – Japan
Drinking habits around the world: tips
There are also differences when it comes to toasting the glasses: In Spain, for example, it is not customary to toast with non-alcoholic beverages. In Italy, on the other hand, the glass is set down again after the toast – regardless of the contents. However, paper cups are never used for toasting, instead the backs of the hands only touch briefly. In Russia, it is customary for everyone in turn to make a toast. In Japan, it is considered very impolite to toast oneself. Eye contact is recommended on almost every occasion, as it shows respect. Crossed toasts, on the other hand, should be avoided everywhere.
The right measure when drinking in a business environment
Finally, drinking itself also raises some questions – especially when it comes to the right measure. Is it even appropriate to consume alcoholic beverages at business meetings? If so, are there exceptions? And what are the limits? First of all, it is absolutely fine to refuse all alcoholic beverages, and no reasons need to be given for doing so. However, a reference to the subsequent trip home by car is always a good argument if someone does ask. Otherwise, the most important principle is to know your limits and tend to hold back. You should always make sure that you are still in control. When toasting a business success, it is often customary to do so with sparkling wine or champagne. Drinking a glass at an earlier hour is absolutely fine. If necessary, the drink can be “stretched” with a shot of orange juice.
While it is quite common in other countries such as France or Italy to have a glass of wine or beer with your meal during your lunch break, this is less common in Germany. If you are unsure, you should wait before ordering. However, a non-alcoholic beverage is always the safer alternative.
Alternative: Stretch drink with a shot of orange juice