There is lunch, and then there is the power lunch. The former is the typical run-of-the-mill middle of the day meal. On a scale of just-food-to-keep-you-going to nourishing, it can consist of anything from leftovers from the night before to a seamless order or a head out of the office to a make our own salad (for half your day’s earnings) situation to a sit-down with yourself or another to wash off that morning’s word load.
The latter is a different a type of meal altogether. A power lunch takes place at a restaurant, likely expensive, because you’re on the company’s dime. It is meant to bring together a group of important work-related people around a table to discuss important business matters. The overall tone of the power lunch has to do with landing a client or a deal or selling a client or a deal or landing the sale of a client or a deal.
The food at a power lunch is elegant but efficient, meant to be a backdrop in some cases to the atmosphere and the alcohol which are there to lubricate the scene. And this is where the choice of power lunch wine comes into play.
A power lunch wine should be refreshing and not too high in alcohol – you still have to be coherent during your pitch and then head back to the office, after all. The wine you order should also be bold and yet easy to drink as a subtle reminder to everyone at that table that if you can be trusted to satisfy their palates, you can be trusted to take on that project.
Below you’ll find a list of a few of our favorite power lunch wines, from lowest alcohol content to highest. Each wine combines the right amount of taste and boldness, alcohol content and finesse. Any favorite power lunch wines of yours you want to tell us about? Let us know in the content section below.
For a deeper dive into alcohol content of all the different grapes, we love this easy to read least-to-most alcohol chart from WineFolly.
This is one of those amazing white wines that is crisp and easy to drink. Perfect for a lunch where you want to be the star, and not the gastronomy. Because riesling grapes grown in cooler climates tend to have lower alcohol, German Rieslings, like Kabinett and Spätlese, are especially ideal because they range from about 7 to 9% alcohol (on average, wines range in the 12% to 14% alcohol range). You’ll get bonus points for smartness for being able to pronounce the German wine region like a pro.
Portuguese wines have been making a showing on the global stage as of late, none more so than Vinho Verde, or “green wine.” This region is cool and wet, yielding fresh and lively wines made from a variety of grapes that all hover around the 10% alcohol mark. Some are even spritzy. This is the perfect choice for those toasting the closing of your deal or the celebrating the beginning of a fruitful business relationship.
At 10% to 13% alcohol, this super approachable gamay noir grape is what makes up red wines from Beaujolais. Light-bodied and fruity, this red goes well with everything and serves as the perfect backdrop to a convivial lunch gathering if you’re trying to drum up some business or just for a quick meet-and-greet. It’s a great alternative to the oh-so-common Pinot Noir and will show your lunch companions your ability to think outside the (wine) box.
The Sancerre region is located in the eastern Loire Valley in France. Its terroir encourages the sauvignon blanc grape to express itself so well. This ever popular white wine is a great lunch choice because it has a bold stoniness to it, yet it is finessed and easy going down. It’s easy to sip on while noshing and talking business and goes great with salads and chicken, so an ideal lunch companion. Usually no higher than 13% alcohol, so you can keep your wits about you while deal-making.
If it’s cooler outside, red wines can be a better choice than white. But this also means you’ll be moving into a medium alcohol range wines. So when ordering, be sure the content doesn’t exceed 13%, and drink a little extra agua to keep your center. One of our favorite lunch wines in the 13% range is the noble Nebbiolo grown in Piedmont, Italy. While it is a bolder taste than a Gamay, what it lacks for in lightness, it makes up for in classiness and earthiness. What ordering this wine conveys to your table is that you are all about quality and depth of character.