A wine tasting club is a support system for many wine lovers. It’s a chance to come together not only to taste but to talk about wine with those that share your level of enthusiasm. If you think you can find at least three wine loving friends, chances are you’re on your way to forming your own wine tasting club. Here are the 12 most essential elements to help you.
1. The people
Invite people who truly have an interest in exploring and learning more about wines. If you have that one lone wolf who just wants to drink and chit-chat it can steer the focus away from the wine.
2. The supplies
Take inventory of your supplies; you’ll need quality wine glasses (size and shape to match your tastings), decanter, spit bucket, aerator, filter, foil cutter and lastly, but most important, a corkscrew! Pool your resources; chances are you already have these items among your club members.
3. The money
Decide on price range of wines to purchase. Will one person do the purchasing, or will everyone bring a bottle? Keep your inventory organized; you don’t want everyone showing up with the same bottle of ‘two-buck-chuck’.
4. The method
Decide whether or not you will taste blind. Either way, I always recommend keeping the price a secret until the scores are tallied. The easiest way to blind taste is to keep the bottles in brown paper bags, tie a string around the top and put a number on the bag.
5. The bottles
Keep the number of wines tasted in proportion with the number of people in your group. A group of 4 can comfortably taste 6 wines in an evening.
6. The regions
Decide on what varietal and region you will be exploring. Will you taste four Cabernet Sauvignons from Napa? Or will you taste four Cabernets, each from a different region? Organize your calendar to include a variety of regions and wines.
7. The education
Have information on the wine and the region on hand. Education and tasting goes hand in hand. It can be as simple as having notes from Wikipedia, or having ‘The Wine Bible’ on hand.
8. The food
Have food on hand to go with the wines. It can be as simple as cheese and crackers, or a full dinner.
9. The scoring
Scoring wine does not have to be complicated. The easiest method is a 1 to 5 scale (5 being the best) on 5 elements. The best a wine can score is 25. Make a grid with columns for Color, Clarity, Aroma, Taste and Finish. Everyone gets a score sheet for each wine.
10. The math
Choose someone who, after drinking all this wine, can still tally up the sheets.
11. The journal
Keep a journal on the wines you’ve tasted, and how the group scored them. Circle back in a year and taste a few again. See how the wine (or the group) has evolved.
12. The clean-up
Draw straws to see who must wash the wine glasses with out breaking them! Take turns, because it’s no fun being stuck washing out the glasses every time.
My wine club is a great source of wine exploration and education for me. I hope you have success with yours. Cheers!
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