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Harmonious and hearty
Harmonious and hearty

Jan 02 2024 / Round the Table Magazine

Harmonious and hearty

Wine can be your gateway to HNW clients.

Topics Covered

How can you rub shoulders with high-net-worth (HNW) prospects without spending a fortune? Socializing with them at the country club will cost a lot of money, and joining the local Corvette club requires buying the sports car. But you can become a wine enthusiast. All it takes is a bit of learning, buying some bottles and drinking with like-minded individuals. Here’s how to get started:

You need to like wine. If you join a golf club to meet wealthy people but play poorly, getting into their circle will be an uphill struggle. Likewise, if you don’t drink alcohol, meeting people through a shared interest in wine is not going to work. You need to have an appreciation for and enjoy the taste of wine.

Develop an understanding. Learn how to taste wine. There are wine appreciation courses you can attend, books you can buy and online research available. Also, discover why it captures the imagination by watching films like “Sideways” (2004), “A Good Year” (2006) and “Bottle Shock” (2008).

If you want to network with HNW individuals, pick a mainstream category like Napa (California) Cabernets, Red Bordeaux or Red Burgundy (France).

Find a good wine store and befriend the owner. The owner can direct you to local wine clubs where like-minded individuals get together to taste and talk about wine. Go to in-store meet-the-winemaker tastings. Let the owner know that you want to learn about wine and your price range. When they suggest buying certain wines, heed their advice. Join a wine club too.

Check out local restaurants: Wine dinners surpass in-store tastings. The restaurant features a tasting menu of several food courses paired with different wines. These events are often one-night-only affairs that sell out quickly, and you will be seated among fellow wine fans.

Where are the serious wine bars? There should be some in your area. Find them, become a regular and befriend the bartenders. Let them know you want to learn. You will taste different wines over time and meet the interesting people sitting around you.

Pick one category for your main focus. There are more grape types than you can count. Wine fits into two categories, Old World and New World. The first category is a handful of countries in Europe. The second category is everyplace else. If you want to network with HNW individuals, pick a mainstream category like Napa (California) Cabernets, Red Bordeaux or Red Burgundy (France). You can have an appreciation for all types of wine, but like the financial services profession, there are one or two areas where you should be an expert. 

Buy wines and taste them. Once you have chosen your category, talk with your wine merchant and have them make suggestions based on your interest. You might get a group of friends together on a regular basis to taste wine together. They buy some, you buy some and gradually, you are developing your palate, your sense of taste.

Buy a bottle of the best. You can find plenty of tasty wines for $15 to $20. You can find flavorful ones in the $50 category. Wines priced at $100 to $500 are also luscious but are harder to find and expensive. Buy a single bottle, even if your friends need to club together to enjoy it. You are learning what the best stuff tastes like, which will be important when you spend time with serious wine fans.

Buy good glassware. You should own proper wine glasses. The German firm Riedel (rhymes with needle) is one of the best manufacturers. Their glassware is not expensive, and your wine shop or gourmet food store should carry them. If not, buy them online. You want at least a half-dozen, general-purpose wine glasses.

Read at least one wine industry publication. Three of the most recognized are Decanter (UK), Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator. Subscribe and read every issue cover to cover. Form an opinion on the quality of the current vintage or other wine- related stories. This knowledge will be handy for conversation.

HNW individuals pursue many exclusive interests that have steep financial barriers to entry, but wine appreciation is a crossover event.

Visit your favorite wine region on vacation. See where your favorite wines are made, and talk with the winemaker. Somehow, the wine tastes better on a sunny day in a sidewalk café near the vineyard. This experience gives you an additional depth of knowledge when talking with your new wine friends.

Attend wine auctions or special events. Some U.S. states like California and New York permit wine auctions. Charities also include wine at their gala event auctions. The convention center in town might have an organized walk-around tasting with many booths. If you have these in your area, you will meet interesting people. 

Where will all this knowledge get you? You will be involved in your local community, attend events and have wine enthusiasts as clients because you are spending time at the wine bar and the wine store meeting people with the same interests. Why does this strategy work? Wine fans are enthusiasts who love talking about wine and engaging with fellow wine fans or newbies with a sincere interest in learning. HNW individuals pursue many exclusive interests that have steep financial barriers to entry, but wine appreciation is a crossover event. Wealthy people often share that interest, and being a wine enthusiast won’t cost you a fortune to pursue.

Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor,” is available on Amazon. Contact him at brycesanders@msn.com.