Start a wine tasting group
I wanted to learn about wine in a hurry when I first got a job as an accountant with the country’s then largest winemaker, Montana Wines. Because I was working for a winery, my friends all assumed I must know a lot about wine. I didn’t. I liked drinking it with my workmates every Friday, but any knowledge I had didn’t extend very far beyond the handful of Montana brands on offer at the end of each working week.You don’t need a club name, a president, or a club wine cellar. You do need a bunch of people who like wine but want to know more about it.
When one of the few local wine critics in that day, Peter Saunders, formed a wine club I jumped at the chance of attending his monthly tastings with other like-minded souls. I began to read wine columns, wine magazines and wine books. Visiting local wineries became a popular weekend activity. I started a wine cellar. I even began to produce wine at home once a year when I could beg, borrow or (mostly) steal some wine grapes. I was hooked.
It didn’t take long before I was invited to judge at a wine competition. I soon knew enough about wine to be able to teach others.
When students ask me “where to from here” on the final night of my wine classes I tell them to taste as many different wines as possible. I suggest they attend retailers wine tastings, visit wineries and start their own wine tasting group.
A wine tasting group can be as serious or as social as you care to make it. I established a wine tasting group while living in Los Angeles where I ran an export office for Corbans Wines. I got to know a bunch of wine enthusiasts and invited them to bring a bottle of chardonnay to a tasting at my house. 15 people showed up. We brown-bagged the wines, tasted them blind and voted on our preferred bottles before unmasking the bottles. It was fun.
From then on, we met once a month, each bringing a bottle based on a pre-determined theme. We were a competitive bunch. Everyone wanted the honour of bringing the top wine. My aim was to bring the top-voted wine that cost the least.
We learned a lot, became good friends, and discovered many wonderful wines that we might otherwise have not tasted. For the cost of one bottle, we got to taste a dozen or more different bottles. We became a buying group, pooling our orders to negotiate sharp prices from suppliers.
You don’t need a club name, a president, or a club wine cellar. You do need a bunch of people who like wine but want to know more about it.