Friday, February 22, 2008

Vino Tasting Club

I have this desire to look at starting a wine tasting club. I am interested in wine, and with a little nudge from Gary Vaynerchuck at WLTV I have decided to give it a shot. So my first question is "What does it take to get started?" Some google searching and reading suggests that:

- I will need six to 10 people eager to learn more about wine, and willing to show up on a regular basis. (Don't let the group get too big, or participants will only receive skimpy portions of wine and won't have enough time to discuss each wine.)
This group should be made up of people who are relaxed and eager to share with each other — it isn't the place to invite a client who needs to be impressed or a wine-savvy acquaintance who tends to be dismissive of other's opinions.

Look, smell, taste

Open one bottle at a time, and pour everyone 2 to 3 ounces. Take time to observe the color clarity and texture of the wine, then swirl it and inhale. What kind of aromas do you sense? Taste the wine and think about not just flavor, but its acidity, its texture in the mouth. Does the flavor die off after a big beginning, or does it linger on the tongue? Try to be precise with your words, although there is nothing technical about those words. Stating that the wine has a slate taste, or skittles, etc is perfectly acceptable.


This is the most important part of a successful wine club, because confidence with wine begins by feeling comfortable discussing it. Make sure each participant has the opportunity to talk about each wine.

Keep it focused

Although your wine club should be social, it helps to keep people focused on wine during the tasting portion of your gathering. One participant can be assigned to give a short report on the evening's theme. Keeping the right props around can also help to keep everyone thinking about wine; it can be very helpful to have reference books, wine magazines, and maps of wine-making regions available. But remember, wine groups are meant to make learning entertaining, so do not let things get too serious—no lengthy lectures, no harsh criticism of one taster's opinion.

Choosing a Theme / Theme night ideas

Comparing wines makes the most sense when selections have something in common, so it's helpful to choose a theme. You might select a specific grape varietal — for example, shiraz — and get to know its characteristics by tasting wines from different regions, each made with that type of grape. Learn about a climate and growing conditions by tasting wines from a single region like Sonoma County, Calif., or France's Rhone Valley. For a truly festive tasting, line up sparkling wines from different producers. For the connoisseurs among you, clubs can always sample different vintages of a single wine in a flight. Wine Web sites, books and magazines, can always help to develop themes for the next tasting.

~Blind Tastings: Bottle covers to taste blind (hide the corks also).

~Favorites Night: Each couple brings a bottle of their favorite varietal to taste through: i.e.. Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Cabernet.

~Splurge Nights: Wine cost limit is doubled to allow for a splurge on wine.

Some ground Rule ideas:

~Wine costs vary greatly. We can decide as a group for a limit to spend per meeting. I am thinking that $20 may be a good limit.

~Amount of wine: opinions vary greatly on this one. Some say that each person brings one bottle - while others state that only 4 - 8 bottles per night is needed. Limiting the wine quantity would be nice so that all wines are able to be sampled.

~Each member or couple brings a simple hors d’oeuvres (if you can do a little reading and try to pair with the wine great!).

~Be fair to the wines, cork / decant at least an hour before the meeting.

~Wine glasses - I can go either way. We can bring our own or have them supplied by the host (something to think about).

~If you need a Spit bucket - bring one.

So we will have to see how this plays out. I hope that i can pull something together.

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