Monthly Archives: November 2020

Book Review: Professional Drinking

For many people, the term “Professional Drinking” conjures up images of humorous t-shirts one would wear to a frat party. Being the wine geek that I am, when I read the title of this book, my mind went to my dream job: Wine and Spirits Critic, tasting fine wine and spirits for a living. In reality, this book is not about either of those things. 

The following book was provided by the author as a media sample for review. All reviews, descriptions, and opinions are my own. I received no additional compensation.

Somewhat surprisingly, Professional Drinking, by Jim Schleckser, is more of a business book. Jim Schleckser has more than 30 years of professional drinking experience. As the CEO of the Inc. CEO Project, a CEO coaching business, Jim has entertained and coached business people all over the world. That he is also a Certified Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliersand has an Advanced certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust only strengthens his drinking street cred. 

Yet the fact that Professional Drinking stems from Jim’s business experience, and is largely about how to entertain, engage, and responsibly drink in business settings, it is far from a typical, stuffy, boring business book. Jim’s writing style is personable and approachable, sprinkled with humor as well as insight, and occasional embarrassing stories from Jim’s own experiences. (Something about a hot tub and the entire software development team?)

The book opens with a brief biography, in which Jim tells the tale of his introduction to wine, involving a case of 1982 Chateau Haut-Brion that his father received as a gift from a business associate. Not a bad way to start a wine journey.

Throughout the book, Jim takes us through an imagined business party. Covering virtually all occasions from lunch, to a more formal dinner, to entertaining associates at home, Jim provides valuable insight into pre-meal beer or cocktails, moving to wine time, and onto the meal. Chapters include such topics as the history of wine, the 100-point rating scale, and wine clubs. Jim even weighs in on the raging debate over screwcap versus cork. 

Have you ever been intimidated by a massive wine list at a restaurant? Professional Drinking has you covered. Need help deciding what wines to stock in your cellar at home for entertaining? Yup, Jim helps you out there, too. He discusses still wine, sparkling wine, wine storage, and many more topics. 

It also turns out that Jim is as personable and approachable as his writing style. When he emailed me to offer a copy of his book, he also offered to schedule a Zoom call for an interview. I took him up on his offer, and found Jim to be quite friendly, engaging, and welcoming. We talked and laughed about wine, cocktails, childhood and young adult memories of jug wines, travel, and life in general. I asked about the hot tub and software development team story. Jim let me in on the background, but his secret is safe with me! 

On wine clubs, we agreed that there are many of varying quality, and most are good for people new to wine. They give newbies an opportunity to explore different varietals and regions, and that’s always a good thing. 

I asked Jim his strategy for holiday wines. I’ve heard different schools of thought; do you bring the good stuff knowing that your Drunk Uncle will guzzle that $100 Bordeaux like it’s a can of Bud on a hot day? Or do you withhold the quality and pour only cheaper wines? Jim typically follows more of a hybrid model. He’ll bring one or two “killer bottles” to enjoy; this allows the family and other guests to try something they might never purchase themselves. Then, he’ll bring out the daily drinkers that are perennial crowd-pleasers. A sound strategy that I intend to employ from now on. 

In summary, Professional Drinking is a captivating, informative book that has something for everyone, even if you’re not in business. No matter your position on the Org Chart, your drinking experience, or your life-path in general, you’re sure to be entertained and learn a few things when you read Professional Drinking. You can get your copy by following this link to the Professional Drinking website.

  • By Kent Reynolds