Like many of us busy moms, Stephanie Browne of Boston never really thought about wine past the fact that there are two basic kinds: red and white. After visiting her first wine tasting six years ago, though, a whole new world was uncorked – she wanted to learn more, and prodded her closest friends to join her.
Divas Uncorked was born to enjoy great friendship, delicious food, and good wine. Each of the ten members takes turns hosting the monthly meetings, planning the meal and choosing the wines, and then shares with the group information about the origins, food pairings, and flavors of the wine chosen for the month’s gathering.
Sound like fun? It’s easy to get going! Read on to learn how to start your own wine tasting club.
Top Tips for a Successful Wine Tasting Club
There are a few key things you should keep in mind and prepare for before you actually start recruiting friends to join your club. Many wine tasting clubs fall apart because they don’t take into account these key pointers, so get comfortable and read on.
1. Intimacy – If you keep the group small, you’re going to have a lot more success. At most, the maximum number of members you’re going to want at any meeting is about 30. There are several reasons why, and I’m sure you’re not just going to take my word for it Ã¢Â?Â¦ one of the reasons is that if you get too many people in your tasting club, you’ll need to rent a hall rather than meeting in the comfort of a member’s home. For another, tastings can take a while, and the more people you have, the more bottles of wine you’ll need. Remember that a tasting is an intimate gathering, not a dorm-room party.
Keeping up the numbers is just as important, though. Since hosting takes a lot of work, the most successful wine clubs work on a rotation. If you only have three members in your club, be prepared to do all the hard work once every season Ã¢Â?Â¦ it will take a lot out of you and your members, cause a lot of stress, and generally spoil the enjoyment.
Along the same lines, divide the labor between members. Instead of requiring the month’s hostess to do everything, you could have one person assigned to pick up and deliver the wines, another member give the lectures, and someone else to prepare the menu. It’s important that every member be involved in some way, or resentment will surface pretty quickly.
2. Hit the books – If you’re already an expert in a favorite area, then you’ve got a running start. Otherwise, find a new area and study it extensively. Help your fellow members locate information so that when their turn to lecture comes up, they’ll be able to provide lively conversations with a lot of detail. You’ll want to focus on the wine, of course, but some areas are renowned for certain processes in creating wine, others have a rich history of producing wine, etc. In short, make sure that you’re enjoying – and helping your members enjoy – the world tour that wine tastings provide.
3. Provide a newsletter – You don’t have to go overboard with your newsletter; even a single-page one will do. You also don’t have to be fancy with graphics or slogans. The important thing about including a newsletter to your members is the community aspect. You can include reports on the previous month’s tasting, preview the next month’s tasting, and generally reinforce that every member’s opinion counts. If you’ve decided as a group to divide the labor, a quick listing of who will provide what can be included.
4. Six wines – Wine tastings shouldn’t last an eternity. As a club, you’ll want to work out exactly how many wines to include per tasting, but generally six work out best. This gives you a perfect opportunity to schedule things easily; three wines, a cheese and snack break, and the final three wines.
You’ll notice that if you attend a wine trade tasting, the number of wines is usually 12. Why the difference? Take a look around you at a trade tasting Ã¢Â?Â¦ everyone’s taking notes like their life depends on it, they’re deciding what they can afford to buy and what they simply can’t afford to pass up, and there generally isn’t a lot of talk.
A wine tasting club should be much more social and intimate. Since you’ll be offering commentary for each wine, the best bet would be about six wines (or less if your group wants to have more conversation time). This also lets you add an extra learning element to your tastings – when it’s time to do snacks, introduce the cheese selections just before everyone enjoys them.
5. Buy good wine – Seriously, don’t worry so much about how much money you’re spending on the wine. On average, the best wines for a tasting cost about $25-40 per bottle – which, split between the members of the club, is very reasonable. You won’t need more than one bottle of each type for your tasting as long as you keep your numbers down, and this gives everyone a chance to taste wines that they wouldn’t normally have the budget to drink.
The Wine Skinny: Help Making Your Club Unique
Within your group of friends, you likely share some common interests. By including these interests into your wine club, you’ll have something that you can all enjoy attending month after month, and never have regrets about the work you put into it.
The Wine Skinny offers so many ideas for wine clubs that it would be impossible to “catch up” on them with your new club. Some of their best ideas include:
Wine, Food, and Book Club – Each month, the Wine Skinny offers a complete overview of a new book to “assign” the group, what wine and food to create, and even gives you some ideas about how to entertain your club during that month’s meeting. Start with one of the “back issues” and you’ll have several months planned without any extra work! http://www.wineskinny.com/past_issues/index.htm#food
Fine Wine and Dining – Don’t just cook up any old thing, match your fine wines with equally fine foods. Wine Skinny gives full recipes and commentary to match really great wines with appropriate foods. http://www.wineskinny.com/past_issues/index.htm#cooks
Wine By The Glass – Wanna cut right to the important stuff? In this section, Wine Skinny lets you in on where to get the best wines particular to a specific region, gives suggestions on between-tasting-snacks (with recipes), and tips on making your wine tasting a success. http://www.wineskinny.com/past_issues/index.htm#tasting