A wine tasting club can be a fun way to get together with friends and other couples who share your interest and desire to learn more about wine. The goal is to develop your palate and your knowledge base, find new wines, and enjoy good company.
You can structure your wine tasting club like a book club where you are all there to discuss a book you have all read, but instead, it’s about wine! Or a dinner club that shares dishes focused on themes like what’s fresh from apples to squash or based on the cuisine of different countries, like France, Argentina, or Ethiopia.
For some, intimidation about wine can be a reason why they don’t try more new wines or talk about wine with others. A wine tasting club with people that you enjoy can be a way to become even more comfortable with wine. Each of us has had different experiences with wine, through travel or food, and sharing those stories helps everyone deepen their understanding and confidence.
In the beginning, there are some choices to be made.
- How many people do you want to include? A group that is too small will have a harder time with regular attendance. Large groups can be unwieldy and difficult to host in some spaces. You can also choose people who live closer to you, so the drive isn’t a burden.
- When and how often would you get together? A set schedule, like the second Thursday of every month, is easier to work with than trying to find a Friday or Saturday night that works for everyone.
- What’s the objective? You can choose how fancy-pants or low-key you want to be. For me, creating an experience that is novel and still approachable would be win-win. I want to try new and interesting wines and make time to spend with people I enjoy.
- Will there be snacks or not? And who will bring them? Simple foods will keep the focus on the wine.
The host for each meeting can coordinate the details for the upcoming event. They can ask everyone to bring a bottle based on a theme, like a specific varietal, country, or region. Attendees can also bring some notes on the wine, or find some factoids on the internet. The host can also dictate the price range, which may depend on the theme.
When you are all together, share where or how you found the wine that you brought. Everyone can share what they are tasting, critically speaking. When you are critically tasting a wine, you are not asking the question of which was my favorite, but which is the best-made wine. You can score the wines or take notes. For example, you could score on a scale of 1-5 on appearance, nose, palate, body, or finish. You could also make it a blind tasting so that people won’t be influenced by labels, brands, or other expectations.
There are a few tools that would be helpful.
Your wine club might want to invest in fine stemware that could travel from one host to the next. A pen and paper to take notes or tasting sheets are handy. Water should be available to cleanse your palate or rinse out a glass. Take a break for snacks sometime in the middle of your tasting. Remind everyone that it’s okay to spit! When tasting, you can still get the body and finish even if you spit.
It’s helpful to have a secretary or a historian. This is someone who collects notes and shares information with the group.
You will also need to determine how to choose who will host next. Some wine clubs use the scores as a competition. The person who brought the favorite wine is the next host. Other groups will rotate through different members, each getting a different month assigned to them.
Once your wine tasting club is established, consider having a winemaker, sommelier, chef, or wine shop owner speak at one of your meetings. Take a field trip to a local winery for a tour and tasting.
After a while, it will become easy for you to find what you like and be able to describe that to a sommelier or wine shop owner. Download your copy of Blind Tasting Wine At Home. You’ll find tasting sheets and even more suggestions for a great wine tasting party. Cheers!