When hosting friends at a restaurant, my mother and father asked their guests to suggest what wine to order. Lillian Todd responded, “I know a wine that will go with every dish.” They agreed to her making the decision and after getting the waiter’s attention, she pointed to a selection on the wine list. As the food was being served, the sommelier poured a sweet, after dinner wine, Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry.
Her fellow diners grumbled and teased Lillian about her selection. They complained about the wine’s sweetness and incompatibility with the food. In tears Lillian asked my father’s opinion of her selection. His response: “It’s perfect, just perfect.”
Along with another couple, we had been invited to a friend’s home for dinner. The other couple responded “white zinfandel” to the host’s inquiry as to what they would like as a before dinner drink. Our host, condescendingly responded that he wouldn’t serve such a wine; that he would pour them a French white instead.
He made a show of opening the bottle, pouring and sniffing the wine, expounding on the aroma and explaining that it was produced near the Mediterranean Sea. Obeying instructions, the couple swirled, sniffed and tasted the wine. They oohed and ahhed over the flavor and commented on how much they had learned.
When our host excused himself to go to the kitchen, the couple placed their glasses on the table, glanced at each other and the woman said, “But I really like white zinfandel.”
I learned from my mother and father the secret to building relationships is by looking out for the needs, wants and likes of others: a lesson that has proven to be true in my personal as well as my business life.
Tact, diplomacy and kindness are qualities that draw people to you. It takes little effort to build people up. Graciousness creates many benefits, such as loyal friends and business partners. Even more important, graciousness creates a positive attitude that leads to a fulfilling life.
In southern towns friends show up with food when someone passes away. So, when my father died, I was not surprised to find Lillian at our door. In her hands she carried a roasting pan containing a fragrant, beautifully cooked leg of lamb. After inviting her in, I inquired how she had prepared the roast. Smiling she said, “I marinated it in Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry—you know your father thought it was perfect, just perfect.”
“A guest never forgets the host who had treated him kindly.” – Homer
The Best Wine
“The best wine is that your guest prefers.” – Terri Tucker