Start your own wine club

Wine clubs are a good way to improve wine knowledge. (Photo: Pixabay)

I first joined the wine industry as an accountant for Montana Wines. My friends all assumed that I knew something about wine. I knew nothing but was keen on finding out more.

The most effective way to quench my thirst for wine knowledge proved to be monthly meetings of a wine club.

I visited Montana’s winery and vineyards as often as I would, took every opportunity to tread the wine trail, asked plenty of questions and tasted as many different wines as I could afford.

The most effective way to quench my thirst for wine knowledge proved to be monthly meetings of a wine club started by wine critic Peter Saunders. Members paid a monthly fee, which funded our blind tastings.

Many years later I moved to California where I ran an export office for Corbans Wines. I wanted to taste more wines than I could afford. I invited 15 wine enthusiasts to join me for monthly wine tastings.

If the theme was riesling we each bought a bottle of riesling in a brown bag. We would taste 15 wines and vote for a winner. We would also bring a plate of food to match riesling and vote for the best match. It was a brilliant way to expand my wine tasting experience.

I encourage students at my Wine Certificate Courses to start their own wine club. They can make it as serious or as social as they like. Simply pick a time such as the first Friday in each month and dream up a theme at the end of each meeting. Trust me, the best way to learn about wine is to taste as many different bottles as possible.

I have just been invited to attend a meeting organised by past students. The theme is unusual grape varieties. I have chosen a bottle of 2019 Dona Fatima from Portugal. The importer is Q Liquid in Onehunga, Auckland. It is made from 100% Jampal grapes. In 2010 there were only 106 hectares of Jampal in Portugal and probably the world. The grape variety is renowned for being quite acidic. For that reason, the winemaker christened it after his mother-in-law, Dona Fatima. Brave man.

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