Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

When Things Get Bubbly: The Etiquette of Champagne & Sparkling Wine

champagneChampagne and sparkling wine are beverages that evoke thoughts of celebration, success, luxury, love and romance. During the holidays, these pleasant associations are even stronger, especially since these beverages have different levels of sweetness. A hostess can use wine as an aperitif or a versatile accompaniment to hors d’oeuvres such as salty nuts, cheese, lightly-spiced fish, Asian dishes, strawberries and more.

Only sparkling wine from the Champagne region in France may legally be called Champagne—others must be called sparkling wine, prosecco, or cava. But that doesn’t diminish their deliciousness or their popularity.

In 2014, California had more than 80 producers and shipped 9.4 million cases of sparkling wine/champagne to U.S. markets. Total U.S. and foreign-produced sparkling wine/champagne shipped to the U.S. in 2014 was 19.7 million cases. The category holds a 5.2 percent share of the U.S. wine market.

Top 10 States for Consumption of Sparkling Wine/Champagne in 2014:
(9-liter cases)
1. California: 3,813,700
2. Illinois: 1,920,200
3. New York: 1,685,400
4. Florida: 1,311,900
5. Texas: 1,064,900
6. Michigan: 878,700
7. New Jersey: 702,600
8. Pennsylvania: 519,500
9. Massachusetts: 515,400
10. Ohio: 415,800
Source: 2014 The Beverage Information Group.

1. The History of Champagne: Champagne, once traditionally served only at the coronation of French kings, is now strongly associated with New Year’s Eve festivities around the world. The beverage was reputed to have been invented in the 1600s by the monk Dom Perignon. He discovered that the best Champagnes were made from blends of the Champagne grapes (Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay) from different vineyards in the Champagne region, north of Paris.

2. Bubbly Personality: Champagne is still-wine that has had sugar added and has been through a second fermentation, and it is this that leads to its effervesce. The smaller and faster the bubbles, the finer the champagne. Scientists have determined that there are 95 million bubbles in a bottle of champagne!

3. Corkage Etiquette: Opening the bottle the proper way will ensure you avoid creating a spray, injuring someone with the cork, or spilling a drop of this precious liquid! It is best to hold the bottle at a 45 degree angle, grasp the champagne cork gently with the one hand and turn the bottom of the bottle firmly with the other hand. Be sure to twist the bottom of the bottle slowly, until you feel the cork gently release in your hand.

4. Sabering Champagne: Legend has it that Napoléon’s mounted artillery officers started the trend of sabering. While riding a horse, these soldiers used a blade to cut the top off a champagne bottle with the cork still attached to it. This dramatic presentation requires precise preparation, and is often used for show today by experienced wine connoisseurs. The bottle must rest upside down for 60 minutes in ice so that it’s very, very cold. The swordsman removes the bottle from the ice, slowly turns it upright so that it’s at a 45 degree angle with no fluid touching the cork. He or she touches the blade to the shoulder of the bottle, then uses a follow-through movement with the blade—using the elbow; not the wrist—to remove the cork quickly. While sabering a bottle can seem glamorous, it is also very dangerous and is not recommended unless you’re a professional. In addition to losing life and limb, you could also end up with shattered glass in your Champagne!

5. Toasting Etiquette: Clinking your glass is optional. If you’re a guest, you may choose to clink or not to clink depending on the hosts and other party-goers. If you’re a host, the best rule is to be sure the guests are happy. Avoid comments such as, “I don’t clink,” because this might causes those wanting to clink their glasses to feel uncomfortable. As always, the most important rule of etiquette is to ensure that others feel comfortable in your presence. Cheers! Salute!

Photo credit: ©iStock.comDavizro

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10 Holiday Party Tips from Business Etiquette Expert

We all know there are parties that we look forward to, while others fall into the category of (yawn) obligation. From happy hours to formal dinners to buffets, what makes the good ones special, while others fall flat?

holiday-partyIt’s not just the style and personality of the hosts that makes the party. Much hinges on their sense of business etiquette. From black tie affair to cocktails, it’s the warmth, enthusiasm, and overall spirit that count—and that includes keeping etiquette in mind. Even what you call the party can make or break its success. If you call it a Christmas party, it may not sound as inclusive as a Holiday party.

Here are my top 10 etiquette tips for making your holiday business party a success:

1.Carefully craft and manage the invitations.

Invitations in both electronic and printed form should be sent 21 days in advance. Include all the vitals on the invite, especially RSVP specifics, attire, start and end time, and who is (and who is not) included. Can guests bring spouses and children? Clarity saves confusion. Then follow up with non-responsive guests, in case their invitations got lost in the holiday crush. This year’s modified postal system may also present new challenges.

2. Pay attention to the guest list.

Plan your guest list early and carefully. If your party includes clients, consider circulating an internal email before the party that includes all of your best clients’ photographs with short bios. Be sure your staff is prepared to visit with top clients and inquire about their interests and industry news. Boasting about your own accomplishments is not only boring, it’s inappropriate.

3. Factor your co-hosts into logistics.

Often with corporate parties, there are multiple co-hosts—owners, partners, and directors, for instance. Make sure the event reflects well on everyone. Should it be held during the day or in the evening? Consider the flow of alcohol and what kind of food will be served, and make sure it’s replenished often. There will be different guests invited by each host, so make sure everyone feels welcome.

4. Nosh like an etiquette pro.

Eat a small amount of protein just before the event so you’re not playing host on an empty stomach. If a client insists you join them in a buffet, don’t place more than three items on your plate, and avoid eating in the buffet line. With passed hors d’ oeuvres, pick up the item with a toothpick or tongs and place on a napkin or plate first, and then place it in your mouth. Avoid the temptation to remove food from the server’s tray and pop it directly into your mouth!

5. Greet guests with warmth.

Think like a happy guest! Provide a warm and friendly environment. Choose music of an appropriate genre, played at a volume that allows for conversation. When guests arrive, make sure they’re greeted warmly. With hired photographers, provide a company escort so they can capture the right shots. Designate specific areas for the photographer, gifts, and coats. To keep security tight, provide a single entry.

6. Make impeccable introductions.

It is the host’s responsibility to make sure that guests are introduced to each other. A good introduction includes adding something of interest about each person to start the conversation, such as, “Jamie handles our social media efforts,” or, “Jason is our creative website designer.” Then excuse yourself while the guests take it from there.

7. Mingle, circulate, and mix.

Hosts are mobile ambassadors expected to work the room and participate in the party, so mix, mingle, and enjoy! There is nothing worse than going to a party where the host gloms onto one or two people the entire time. Instead, give personalized attention to as many guests as possible: they’re here because you invited them, and they want to visit with each host for a few minutes.

8. Be discreet but firm with woozy guests.

Even when the drinks are not overly strong and there is plenty of food, be prepared for the inebriated guest. Before the party starts, advise the bartenders to refuse to pour alcohol for an inebriated person. Instead, instruct them to pour a substitute beverage, while calling you to the bar. Then, privately tell the guest that the bartenders won’t serve them. Be firm but discreet. Send them to their home or hotel safely via Uber or taxi. The next day, the guest will be thankful you saved them from further embarrassment.

9. Be gracious with uninvited guests.

Among those little surprises that inevitably occur will be the appearance of additional guests. Be gracious. If an invited guest brings along three unexpected friends, despite what the invitation indicated, don’t turn them away. Welcome them. Although it was discourteous for your guest to take the liberty of bringing guests along, it’s better to roll with it. Remember the mantra: ‘Blessed are the flexible, for they never get bent out of shape!’

10. Send them off with warmth and acknowledge hostess gifts.

If one of the hosts cannot personally do so, be sure to designate an appropriate person to thank departing guests at the door. He or she should stand near the exit, ready to say goodbye and thank each guest for attending. It may be appropriate to offer a party favor or a bottle of water. If you know the guest brought a gift, make sure to thank them. While small hostess gifts don’t require a written thank you note, more elaborate gifts do.

Preparing well and thinking like a guest will ensure the success of your holiday party. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of knowing you hosted a memorable event. Master these modern holiday party manners, and you will succeed! Your guests will go beyond thanking you—they will clear their calendars to ensure they can attend every year!

Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural consultant, an international protocol expert and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. Schweitzer is accredited in intercultural management, is a regular on-air contributor and has been quoted by Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, Inc., the New York Times, Bangkok Post and numerous other media. She is the best-selling, international award-winning Author of Access to Asia. For more of Sharon’s insight, follow her on and

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Valentine Etiquette: Dos and Don’ts

Love is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination. ~ Voltaire

 Do you want to avoid those awkward moments on Valentine’s Day? Keep a few thoughts in mind as you prepare. Fresh flower purchases still rank number one, capturing 36% of holiday transactions. While men buy mostly for romantic reasons, women use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to show they care to mothers, daughters and friends, as well as their sweethearts. Women even treat themselves to Valentine’s Day. If you are cooking on Valentine’s Day, six sexy foods for consideration on the menu include almonds, asparagus, avocados, figs, oysters, and chocolate! Think about these dos and don’ts for love at any stage of the game: (more…)

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