Starting a Wine Club

Karen Frazier
wine party

If you're someone who enjoys tasting new wine, chatting with like other wine enthusiasts about new wines to try and educating yourself on new wines that have come on the market, then a wine club just might be right up your alley. The good news is it doesn't take much to start one.

Finding the Right People

You will need to assemble between 25 to 35 members for your wine club if you want it to be a success. This number can be adjusted depending on the average size of members' homes. Begin by inviting people you know personally. You can also advertise a new wine club on wine enthusiast bulletin boards online or post an ad in your local newspaper to attract members. Once you've assembled your members, it's time to assign tasks.

A good wine club usually profiles up to six new wines each meeting and serves food, usually good cheese and crackers, at an appointed break period. For each new meeting, you will need to elect someone from within the club to give mini-lectures on the presented wine. These mini-lectures should touch on the flavors, aroma, country of origin, and age of the wine, as well as how it matches the foods being eaten along side it.

How a Club Meeting Should Work

If you're ready to start a wine club, you may be wondering about the practicalities. Here are some tips.

  • Aim to meet once a month.
  • Assign duties for a particular meeting before the actual meeting is held.
  • Choose a host.
  • Assign someone to pick up the wine.
  • Choose the wines to be profiled.
  • Determine how many will attend the meeting and order wine based on those numbers.
  • Find members or experts to present information about the wines. Consider inviting a wine shop owner or local chef or sommelier.
  • If you can't find an expert presenter, research the wines. A good place to find factoids on wine is at the official web site of the American Wine Society. You can also talk to the salesperson in the spirits shop about the particular bottle
  • Wine club meetings usually occur over a time period of two to three hours, with a 30 minute socializing break after the discussion and tasting of the first three bottles of wine.
  • Many wine clubs have its members score the wines being sampled on a scale of 0 to 20. Once an elected member calculates scores, that member writes up the tallies for inclusion in your wine club newsletter, which should be sent out to members sometime shortly after the meeting.

The Costs of a Wine Club

Wine can be expensive, and you should not think of skimping when picking out a selection of wines for your club's meeting (most people do not join a wine club to sample cheap table wine that costs six bucks a bottle). Aim to keep your per-bottle costs at $20 to $40 a bottle. Have whichever person is presenting for the upcoming meeting purchase all bottles on a credit card, and then have that person tally up the total cost of the wine. Divide the total cost of the wine by the number of members in the club, then alert club members to the amount of money they should write checks out for.

Attracting Members

There are many places you can advertise your wine club, including:

  • Post flyers in local wine shops (ask permission first).
  • Go to local wine tastings and meet like-minded people.
  • Join wine forums on the Internet and look for local, like-minded members.
  • Contact your friends and people in your social networks.
  • Post a small add in a local publication, like a newspaper or free want ads.

Wine clubs can be a great way to learn more about wine and experience wines you may not otherwise try. With some preparation and an adventurous spirit, you may find a new social outlet that brings new friends and good wines into your life.

Starting a Wine Club