Richard Porter

Get to know the CWO Hosts

Our Chief Wine Officer hosts bring guests together with an ease and panache that takes years of experience to acquire. They set the pace and let the experts shine, while ensuring a smoothly run event for all involved. But they rarely step into the spotlight. We thought we’d fix that. In this, the first CWO host profile, we interview Richard Porter, Chief Nation Director and CWO Host extraordinaire.

Chief Wine Officer: How did you first get into event hosting?

Richard Porter: “I have been with Chief Wine Officer since the very early days. I was at some of our very first events and through the years I’ve helped shape various parts of the business, alongside David, our founder. I soon came to find myself travelling to different locations on my own to deliver events. I had a bumpy start, but my ability grew along with my confidence. I would guess I’ve hosted somewhere in the region of 400+ events, so it’s become second nature.”

How different is each event? Do you prep the same for every client or do some topics require more legwork from the host?

“Whilst I always take some time reading up on each topic we cover at our events, I don’t see it as my place to get involved in the discussions. People don’t come to listen to me, they come to learn from the experts – technology experts first and foremost represented by our clients, but also our wine experts, who bring years of experience in the wine trade. I’m merely there to keep things moving and to learn as well.”

What's your favourite part about hosting events with tech clients?

“I get to hear the very latest developments in technology, things that are literally changing the world. I learn about the carbon produced by data storage, how electric cars can be made more efficient by upgrading them wirelessly, the very latest in generative AI – and all while enjoying a glass of wine or two. That can’t be a bad job, can it?”


The Chief Wine Officer tasting challenge winner was so appreciative of the wooden presentation box containing her prize (a bottle of wine), she told me she was going to place it on her to her mother’s ashes.

– Richard Porter


What are you top three most memorable hosting experiences after 17 years?

“We once did an event on a boat travelling up the Hudson River in New York City. We had asked the guests to be there before 7pm, or else the boat would set off without them. At 6.30pm, we had a queue of 25 people waiting to come aboard. New Yorkers are not known for their punctuality, and yet here they all were eager to come aboard for CWO!

At Chief Wine Officer live events, we always taste the wines blind. Once whilst in Paris, we asked a room full of serious French wine tasters which of the two sparkling wines we had served them they preferred. As with most events, it split the room 50/50. When we revealed that one was Champagne, and the other an English sparkling wine, it got one of the best reactions I have ever seen – not sure if they were impressed or disappointed – but it created some drama for sure.

But I have to say my favourite memory would be from one of our events in San Francisco. The Chief Wine Officer tasting challenge winner was so appreciative of the wooden presentation box we gave her as a prize, she told me she was going to place it on her mantlepiece…next to her mother’s ashes. High praise indeed!”

What advice would you give for people wanting to improve their public speaking?

“Nerves are your worst enemy. They make you shake, speak too quickly, and lose your place. I always take time to relax before speaking publicly. I make sure I’m prepared, breathe deeply, and remind myself to pause between sentences. And I try to do it all with a smile on my face. If you’re happy, your guests will be happy too.”

What’s your favourite venue?

“I couldn’t give you one overall favourite as they are all unique. I enjoy some of the spaces in the skyscrapers of London – Aqua Shard and City Social both offer amazing views of London and beyond. Those views at sunset give our guests a real treat. It’s always fun going to some of the private members spaces too – a sneak peek into a world you wouldn’t normally have access to. New York and London have many of those to enjoy.”

Do you have a favourite wine?

“I absolutely love sparkling wine – Ruinart Blanc de Blanc has always been a favourite of mine. I used to be more of a red wine fan, and Spice Route Chakalaka, a South African wine from Swartland is delicious. But it would be hard to say my favourite ever wine, as there are just so many to keep tasting – and that’s why I love my job.”

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