World Wise


Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE EVERY ISSUE - By Terri Mor­ri­son

Gan Bei! Ms. Wei Gu has a cool ti­tle. She is The Wall Street Jour­nal’s “China Lux­ury Ed­i­tor,”and she knows how to toast. Her video ap­pear­ance in“Drink­ing at Chi­nese Busi­ness Ban­quets” is worth a view, if just for the stumped ex­pres­sion on her col­league’s face as he man-han­dles a lovely gob­let of wine. Here’s the short ver­sion of her tu­to­rial:

Wait for the host to of­fer the first and last toasts at the ban­quet – and make sure you have enough in your glass to par­tic­i­pate each time.

To show re­spect to a su­pe­rior, grace­fully hold your glass with two hands (one on the stem and one sup­port­ing the base). Keep the gob­let’s rim be­low the boss’s when clink­ing. Say“Gan Bei!”

If you clink glasses – you must drain the con­tents. Re­peat all night long. Sub­se­quently, you are ex­pected to smoothly whirl among the many ta­bles, ac­cept­ing and of­fer­ing toasts with all the VIPs present. Just don’t look drunk.

Ban­quets are an im­por­tant means of de­vel­op­ing the friend­ships that are key to do­ing busi­ness in China. Of course, they are also a way to cel­e­brate new deals or mu­tual ac­com­plish­ments. In all cases, al­co­hol is an in­te­gral part of the process. But if down­ing large quan­ti­ties of wine or whisky wor­ries you, here are some po­ten­tial ways to limit your in­take:

Alert your hosts if you must ab­stain be­fore you set foot on the plane. Re­li­gious, med­i­cal or phys­i­cal rea­sons (for ex­am­ple, preg­nancy) are all ac­cept­able ex­cuses – but only if you let them know be­fore the so­cial agenda is ar­ranged.

Get a“Drink­ing An­gel.”Se­nior Chi­nese ex­ec­u­tives at­tend many ban­quets, and may not want to par­tic­i­pate in ev­ery toast, so they bring younger em­ploy­ees with them to do the heavy lift­ing. Be­ing a“drink­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive”may sound like a dream job, but even the in­ter­views can be killer. Just ask the three well-dressed green grads who were found ly­ing in a pub­lic plaza in Chongqing – passed out from job in­ter­views that tested their tol­er­ance for booze to the limit.

Say that you are driv­ing. China’s Traf­fic Safety laws are strict and driv­ing while in­tox­i­cated is a crim­i­nal of­fense.You do NOT want to be in an ac­ci­dent in China with a blood al­co­hol level of 0.08 per­cent or over.

Know Your Oenophiles

While the French may be the big­gest oenophiles (con­nois­seurs of wine) on the planet, they frown upon drink­ing to ex­cess. Wine is care­fully se­lected for each course and may be de­canted at the ta­ble. Like many Ital­ians, they con­sider it im­por­tant to take care of their guests when din­ing, and they like to evoke a mem­o­rable mood through the shar­ing of ex­cel­lent meals and ex­cep­tional wines.

Giuseppe Pez­zotti, se­nior lec­turer at the Cor­nell Univer­sity School of Ho­tel Ad­min­is­tra­tion, of­fers the fol­low­ing steps for de­vel­op­ing a wine palate:

Sight. Ex­am­ine the color; it should be the right shade and clear, not cloudy.

Swirl. This aer­ates and en­hances the fla­vor. No­tice if it ad­heres to the side of the glass. The more com­plex the wine, the more rivulets will ap­pear.

Smell. Pick out the sub­tle aro­mas: fruits, vanilla, oak, etc. If the fra­grance is “off”the wine may be ox­i­dized, mader­ized (over­heated) or“corked”(in­fused with TCA, or trichloroanisole).

Sip. Bring the first sip in with some air to en­hance the scent and taste.

Sa­vor. As­sess the fin­ish. Does it linger? Is there an af­ter­taste?

Giuseppe sug­gests learn­ing about one va­ri­ety of grape or wine at a time. Start with lighter, less com­plex whites, then move on to the more ro­bust, chal­leng­ing and mul­ti­fac­eted reds.

May I Pour?

In South Korea and Ja­pan, you never fill your own glass, but you are re­spon­si­ble for your neigh­bor’s. Even if you do not nor­mally drink al­co­hol, it is bet­ter to ac­cept a glass of wine with din­ner, if only for the toasts. Toast­ing with a glass of wa­ter or soda is awk­ward, and may dis­ap­point your hosts. Just sip it dur­ing the toasts, com­pli­ment it and leave it rel­a­tively full – oth­er­wise they’ll cer­tainly fill it again.

Drink­ing like a Rus­sian

When Drexel Univer­sity’s LeBow Col­lege of Busi­ness Pro­fes­sor Stan­ley Rid­g­ley was lec­tur­ing in Rus­sia, he knew that drink­ing could be an en­durance sport, and was de­ter­mined not to look like a ‘weak Amer­i­can.’How­ever, af­ter mul­ti­ple elab­o­rate toasts dur­ing one night’s celebrations, he asked his as­so­ciate, Dmitri, if there was a way he could re­spect­fully slow down the vodka shots. Thank­fully, Dmitri taught him the phrase‘Puh-ChootChoot”which is an in­sider’s way of say­ing “just a lit­tle bit”or“let’s take sips.”Hear­ing that col­lo­quial line from an Amer­i­can de­lighted the other Rus­sians and halted the com­pe­ti­tion. It’s one to re­mem­ber on your next trip to the Moth­er­land!

WIN A FREE BOOK! CON­TEST: What’s your Cul­tural IQ? If all this makes you long for a bit of ab­sten­tion, you might elect to do busi­ness in pre­dom­i­nantly dry en­vi­ron­ments. True or False? Al­co­hol is pro­hib­ited for ob­ser­vant Mus­lims, for Sikhs, for Mor­mons, and typ­i­cally, for Bud­dhists.

E-mail your an­swer to Ter­riMor­ri­son@ kiss­bowor­shake­

A free copy of Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands: The Best­selling Guide to Do­ing Busi­ness in More Than Sixty Coun­tries will be awarded to a cor­rect re­spon­dent, cour­tesy of F&W Me­dia.

July/Au­gust’s An­swer: True. Dale Carnegie wrote Pub­lic Speak­ing for Suc­cess.

Terri Mor­ri­son is a speaker, co-au­thor of 9 books, and is work­ing on her 10th. She is also ed­i­tor of Kiss Bow or Shake Hands Dig­i­tal - avail­able through McGraw-Hill. Ter­riMor­ri­son@kiss­bowor­shake­hands Twit­ter @Kis­sBowAuthor. Tel (610) 725-1040. BT

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