by Lauren Capotosto

Soft Skills – What You Need to Know About Wine

Feb 15, 20062 mins
IT Leadership

You can discuss the merits of Java and .Net with anyone who asks. But do you know what goes better with grilled salmon, a merlot or a pinot noir?

Knowing which wine to order at a corporate dinner is one skill that can help a CIO distinguish himself as a businessperson and save him from social embarrassment. “When you’re asked to smell the cork, you need to be able to do that without looking like a geek,” says Jeff Connery, a wine lover and CIO of two Canadian banks: Envision Financial in Langley, British Columbia, and First Calgary Savings in Calgary. Notes Connery, “CIOs are not just computer people anymore. They are dealing with boards, other executives and clients. Knowing about wine rounds out one’s business character.”

To the rescue comes a new corporate wine studies program offered by the University of California at Irvine Extension. The six courses, each two to four hours long, teach how to pronounce wine names (try saying vino nobile di montepulciano three times fast), wine and food pairings, and wine etiquette (such as how to send a bottle back if the wine has cork in it). Their courses include “Wine as a Business Tool,” “Entertaining Your Multicultural Client” and “CEO/Executive Roundtable Wine Tastings.”

“If you and I are sitting down to do a deal and have a lavish dinner, and [aside from] religious or health reasons, I order a Coca-Cola, you would think less of me,” says Marlene Rossman, instructor and creator of the courses. Especially, she adds, in “image conscious” Southern California.You should order pinot noir with your grilled salmon. Now if you can figure out which glass is yours, you’ll have your social graces mastered.