Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.


I can't tell you the number of sommeliers who privately chuckle to me about business people who arrive at their restaurants and have no clue what wine to drink when they're celebrating.

"One big tech type turned up one day and mumbled that he'd just made a lot of money and could he please have our finest White Zinfandel," one sommelier told me.

Sommeliers tend to recommend Zinfandel that's red. Sommeliers tend to take wine quite seriously.

It's important, you see, not to slosh down your success with a wine that doesn't quite have the character of the thing you're celebrating. Here, then, are just a few suggestions for particular great moments in your business life.

I live in California. I am therefore (mostly) loyal to my state's wines. I prefer the not-so-sung labels. I also don't like paying vast amounts for a bottle. These might just add 1 percent to the joy you're already experiencing at each stage of your meandering, glorious career.

1. For When You've Just Made Your First-Ever Monthly Profit. There's a feeling of peculiar giddiness when this happens. You never thought it would, through those dark days of red figures. You might be tempted to pop a champagne cork. No, no, no. Champagne has bubbles. Bubbles burst. You mustn't let that thought cross your mind. Instead, experience something that makes you feel that this is the first day of spring and that a summer of consistent profits is still to come. My recommendation is, therefore the Paul Mathew Vineyards Valdiguie. This rarely seen grape will lift you without spoiling you. It will enhance your feelings of hope, without damaging your feelings of solvency.

2. For When You've Signed Your First Big Contract. There's a certain fear when you shake hands on something that is far bigger than any deal you've seen before. The joy of seeing big numbers with your signature beneath is tempered by the knowledge that you're going to have to work harder than you've ever done in your life. So you need a wine that promises and soothes rather than attacks and overwhelms. How about the Apsara Kick Ranch Sauvignon Blanc? Try and forget this gorgeous wine was made by a Scotsman. Instead, focus on the fact that there's someone doing a yoga pose on the label. Focus, too, on this tiny label's motto: Balance, Purity, Expression. These are exactly the qualities you need at this time.

3. For When Investors Start Knocking On Your Door, Instead Of The Other Way Around. There's a certain feeling of having made it when people are throwing money at you. There's a sense that a corner has been turned, a battle won, a vindication achieved. You're tempted to splurge. You're tempted to show that you're now in the big time. You're tempted to buy something whose label is written in French. But wait. You still have a way to go. You still haven't quite made it. Not until the money's banked and the profits are secure. So you need a wine that expresses a quiet confidence, rather than an all-night session with Gary Vaynerchuk. Might I suggest, therefore, the Failla Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir? It's made in the French style, but it's grown where the fog is intense--as it has been for the first few years of your business life. Sip it and let the self-assurance course through you softly.

4. For When You Start Making The Front Pages Of The Business Press. Now you'll start being seen in the fancy restaurants. You'll still dress down of course, if you're in tech. You have an image to keep up after all. But there might be a little pressure to know what you're talking about and be able to articulate it. Celebrate reaching this stage of your business existence by opening a bottle of Sean Thackrey's Andromeda Pinot Noir. Thackrey is based in Bolinas, California. This might, to some, seem like a tech company that's based in an especially chilly part of Alaska. His Pinot, however, will offer you precisely the sort of statement you're looking for: I've made it, but I don't have to try too hard. Especially now.

5. For When You're Finally Cashing Out And Heading To Your Private Island. No, no. Still no champagne. That's too crass and obvious. Often messy, too. You are now someone who will be permanently looked up to, revered, admired and envied (and decried privately, but you can live with that). You need to feel a deep satisfaction, as well as exuding an air of profound completion. I am a wine ambassador at Honig Winery, so I will prevent myself from insisting you open the very fine Honig Bartolucci Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Instead, oh, forget California and treat yourself to something that's out there, but you'll love having right in here. Just get a red from Chateau Musar. This is, quite simply, exquisite Lebanese wine that, once it passes your lips, whispers: "Beat that." And that is precisely how you should be feeling at this moment.