How to Start a Wine Club
I read an article recently from Food and Wine Magazine about starting a wine club (monthly wine party) with your friends. I would like to share some of the points that stood out and also include some ideas that we kick around here at Inertia. Our philosophy of work hard, play hard in the wine industry usually involves a bottle (or two) of the purple stuff.
The Invite: Your choice in participants should reflect the goals that you have for the club. For example, if your goal is to expand upon your existing knowledge of wines and wine regions around the world, it is important to invite people into your new wine club who have a similar level of knowledge/appreciation for wine. If this is purely a social gathering with your close friends, which can sometimes be more fun, then the more diverse the knowledge and appreciation of wine, the better.
Theme: Wine Club themes can be based on specific varietals, wine appellations/regions, and even price points (most bang for your buck for under $20). This last category is my favorite, and usually impacts your wallet the least, as it is a good idea to keep the target price relatively low to allow everyone to participate. A great place to find great wines at affordable prices is the Top 100 Best Buys section of the Wine Enthusiast. I also recommend selecting wine regions from around the world which makes the selection for dinner easy as well. Establishing the theme for the wine club gathering is critical to furthering everyone’s knowledge of wines and helps to keep things on a level playing field.
Tasting Notes: Another great idea is to have the guests email the name of the wine they are bringing ahead of time so you can provide tasting notes for each wine. Allow some room for your guests to write down comments on each wine - this will also help everyone to remember which wines they like after drinking 5-6 glasses (or more) throughout the night. One of our strategic partners, SmartsCo (recently featured in an AMEX commercial) makes a game called Wine Party that provides all of the components to make your event a success…just add wine.
Venue: Wine Clubs do not have to be confined to someone’s home. In fact, taking the party on the road keeps the event centralized and makes it easier to hail a cab. A restaurant I went to recently would make the perfect venue for your next Wine Club gathering - the restaurant is called The Kitchen and is located in Sacramento. As the name suggests, the dinner is conducted around a kitchen setting in which everyone gets to directly participate in the preparation of the food. Bring your own wine (corkage is $25 per bottle) and you’ll be able to enjoy the wines with some of the best food in Northern California. Seating is limited to the 5 or 6 tables that they have in the restaurant, and with only one seating per night, it makes for an intimate experience.
We will be hosting a few wine club parties of our own this year and hopefully our winery partners will join in the fun. What could be more fun than Computer geeks coming together with Wine geeks?