How to Serve Wine at a Business Dinner

From Melissa and Rik Obiso, Attimo Winery:

Ah, wine! A wonderful beverage suited for many business functions, and yet so tricky to serve correctly.  Do you open it in front of everyone? How do you pour it? What if the cork breaks? The unknown is enough to keep many from actually serving wine at a business function.  Whether you are having colleagues over for wine and cheese or hosting a formal dinner in your home, these simple tips and a bit of practice will have you looking like a wine pro.

First, the capsule

Attimo-opening-wine The capsule – the plastic or metal wrapper covering the top of the wine bottle – protects the cork during storage, but the top needs to be cut away.  Capsule cutting tools are readily available at most wine shops.  These handy devices sit on the top of the bottle, then with a slight bit of pressure and a twist of the wrist, the top portion of the wrapper is cleanly removed.  Many corkscrews also have a small blade that can be used for the same purpose.  Rest the knife in the groove at the top of the bottle, then cut through the capsule while working around the bottle.  Voilà – top removed.  It’s best to practice this a few times so you do not bumble or bobble in front of your guests.

Next, the cork

The cork is often the most challenging obstacle to pouring wine.  If possible, set the bottle on the table or counter top, and angle the point of the corkscrew (formally called the worm) into the center of the cork. Twist about a quarter of a turn to set the corkscrew into the cork, then bring the corkscrew completely upright and twist down into the cork until less than a full turn is visible at the top of the bottle.  Now use the lever device, allowing it to rest cleanly on the rim of the bottle, and support it with your hand while gripping the neck of the bottle.  The other hand can now withdraw the cork from the bottle about 90% of the way.  Then rock the cork gently from side to side and ease it out of the bottle neck without spillage.  Try not to make the bottle "pop" sound.  The biggest errors here are a) not going deep enough with the corkscrew into the cork (leading to broken corks), and not resting the lever of the corkscrew evenly on the bottle (leading to cracked or broken tops).  Be firm but not aggressive and you will win every time.

Now, to serve

The most important guest should be served wine first, then proceed clockwise around the table with women being served next, and then followed by the men.  Pour each of the guests a glass to the 4 oz level (this is about half a cup).  Practice ahead of time to know how far this falls within the glasses you are using.  There are about 4 glasses of wine per bottle, and all bottles that are needed for the initial round should be opened at one time.  At the end of each pour, twist the bottle about a half a turn – this will catch the last drip, and allow it to fall back into the bottle with no spills on the table or guests.

Everyone is now ready for a toast to good business deals!


For more tips and to find out more about wine etiquette, wine pairings, and the rituals of tasting and serving wine, we invite you to come by Attimo Winery in Christiansburg, Virginia. The newest farm winery in the New River Valley of Virginia, we offer a wide range of wines grown from many varieties of grapes from our own vineyards. We offer a Wine Club and different purchasing and discount opportunities called "Wine Moments." We look forward to offering classes and seminars beginning this summer when our newly built Attimo Winery Tasting Room opens in July, 2011.

You're invited to read 5 Tips for Ordering Wine at Business Dinners and more from Melissa and Rik Obiso and Attimo Winery on Handshake 2.0, to follow @attimowinery on Twitter, and to "Like" Attimo Winery on Facebook.


Rik and Melissa Obiso of Attimo Winery are client columnists for Handshake 2.0. Attimo Winery is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

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