Dining Etiquette: Drinking


Today’s society is very health conscious. In business it has become almost a norm not to drink alcoholic beverages at a luncheon meeting. Those people who refuse an alcoholic beverage, even if everyone else orders one, are no longer considered teetotalers. Whether you are a guest or a host, remember that drinking mars decision-making abilities.

When your guest orders a non-alcoholic beverage, the proper etiquette is for you to order something similar; ordering wine or hard liquor is inappropriate. If you only want a club soda or iced tea, let your guest know that while you may not care for a drink, it’s perfectly all right with you if he or she does. If you sense that it would be proper to accompany your guest, one glass of wine is the most you are supposed to drink at a luncheon meeting.

At private functions where wine is served, if you decide not to drink any alcohol, you may want to let the wait person pour your wine and then not drink it or just take one or two sips. This is the most effective way to avoid having the efficient staff continue to offer wine.

Do not put your hand on top of your glass to signal that you do not want any wine, do not turn your glass upside-down and avoid saying that you do not drink. These actions will only bring attention to your non-drinking status and cause additional work for the wait staff; it is almost impossible for a server attending many guests to remember that you do not desire wine.

While entertaining clients at other functions other than luncheon meetings, such as cocktail parties, barbecues, dinners and banquets, where savoring excellent wines and other alcoholic beverages is an essential part of the entertaining in hospitality, discretion is your best policy.

You must know your limits. Select the type and amount of alcoholic beverages that are healthy for you. You want to be sure that your system can handle the alcohol you choose without losing your demeanor or your control. Regardless of the setting, you are always representing your company. Keeping your professionalism at the dinner table and at the bar is as important as it is in the meeting room.