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We were conducting a wine-tasting dinner for our company last month with some pretty high-level executives from a broad spectrum of industries. What they all had in common was this question: When I'm at a business dinner and they hand me the wine list (either because they think I know something about wine or because of my position), what the heck am I supposed to do?


John answered in one word: 'Cheat.' To which several people replied: 'Cheap?' Well, yes, but let's start at the beginning.

约翰的回答是一个词: “忽悠”。有几个人回应道:“便宜?”(译者注:英文中cheat和cheap仅一字母之差,且读音非常相似)嗯,两者都对。但还是让我们从头说起。

Ordering the wine at a business function is not unimportant. Business people are judged by just about everything they do, and an ability to order wine crisply and well probably takes on far more significance than it should. When we first wrote about this issue in 2000, we quoted someone who still remembered a young associate, 20 years earlier, nervously looking over the wine list and finally telling the sommelier, 'I think we'll try the Lancers.' In fact, this situation is even more fraught than it was in 2000 because of the recession. Back then, the person forced to choose the wine could simply focus on a California cult Cabernet or some other fancy bottle and everybody would be happy. These days, the bottom line when it comes to wine really is the bottom line. Successful business people are supposed to be able to identify value - and the wine list is no exception. This is where the 'cheap' comes in.

在商业场合上点酒的能力并非无关紧要。而商务人士的一言一行都会被当作判断其能力高低的依据,点酒是否干脆老练且让人皆大欢喜,或许被赋予了远远超出其本身的意义。我们记得当我们的文章在2000年首次涉及这个话题时,我们引述了某个人讲述的20年前的故事。他记得有位年轻的助理紧张地看着酒单,最后告诉侍酒师,“我想我们就尝尝Lancers吧”。事实上,由于目前经济的不景气,这种事情的发生比2000年还要频繁。在那个年代,被迫点酒者可以索性将重点放在加州California cult Cabernet酒或其它精美的酒上,而这样做也会让人皆大欢喜。如今,点酒的底线还真的是指价格的底线了。成功的商业人士都应该是识货的,在点酒上也不会例外。这就是我们所说的“便宜”的意思。

And here's where 'cheat' comes in: More and more restaurants have their wine lists online. Find it and study it before you go. See what fits into your budget and look up the wines online. By the time you are handed the list, you'll be able to make a snap judgment that will make it appear you know what you're doing and are a quick decision-maker to boot. If the wine list is not online, drop by the restaurant in advance, look over the list and talk with the sommelier. It's a small investment in time that will pay big dividends.


Even if this isn't possible, at least spend a few minutes doing some Web browsing on the type of wine likely to be listed. Northern Italian restaurant? You probably will see a delightful, well-priced Barbera. Greek restaurant? At least you can remember that Assyrtiko is the famous white wine from Santorini. If this simply isn't possible, here are some tips:


1) Move fast. The longer you stare at the list, the more your associates will assume either that you know nothing about wine and you're lost or that you know a lot about wine and that the wine you order will be the greatest experience of their lives.


2) Skip anything that's familiar. No one is going to be impressed if you order Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay or Yellow Tail Shiraz and, in fact, they will be outraged at the restaurant's price. You will be punished for staying in your comfort zone. More broadly, for value, avoid the whole long lists of the most-familiar wines: American Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. A wine that is unfamiliar is more likely to impress your associates.

跳过大家熟知的酒。如果你点了Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay或Yellow Tail Shiraz,没有人会觉得你挺在行。而事实上,他们还会为这种酒在餐厅里卖到如此贵的价格感到愤怒。为了不出错而保守行事,你会受到惩罚的。也就是说,为了物有所值,你应该避开最为大众熟知的那一长串葡萄酒名字如American Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon和Chardonnay。点上一瓶无人知晓的葡萄酒,会更让你的同伴们对你刮目相看。

3) If the list is geographically broad, it will be hard to go wrong, for a white, with Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and, for a red, with Malbec from Argentina.

如果酒单上的酒五花八门产自世界各地,那出错的可能性就很小。如要点白葡萄酒,那就点产自新西兰的Sauvignon Blanc;如要点红葡萄酒,那就点产自阿根廷的Malbec。

4) If there is a sommelier, don't be shy about using his or her help. Good business people know how to delegate, after all, and you are just showing that skill. But here's the key if you're really stuck: Once you decide how much you want to spend, choose an interesting, unusual wine around that price and then call over the sommelier and say, 'This looks interesting to me. Do you think this is a good idea or is there something else you'd suggest?' - but the whole time you are doing this, be pointing at the price, not the wine. Sommeliers are used to this. They understand.


On the other hand, maybe it's all simpler than that. We were discussing this with our old friend Mark Nadler, a Chicago-based management consultant to CEOs at Oliver Wyman Delta, and he said, 'Here's my advice: The worst thing you can do is try to fake it. There is no shame in acknowledging to the table, 'You know what? I enjoy wine, but I wouldn't begin to describe myself as an expert. So I'd like to turn this over to one of you who really knows what they're talking about.' Believe me, you can bet there will always be at least one person who can't wait to grab the wine list and show off. Let them do the honors, and you earn easy points for humility.'