Starting a Wine Tasting Group: a few tips courtesy Washington Wine Report

Six Steps for Starting a Wine Tasting Group

Summer is just around the corner, and with it many new wines from the 2013 vintage and earlier will be released. It’ll break most people’s budget to buy all the wines you might like to taste, so the obvious answer is: start a wine tasting group.

Ryan Messer, contributor to Washington Wine Report, wrote a blogpost with lots of great tips on how to do this. I’m sharing his wisdom with you. First answer these questions: who, what, when, where, why and how. Below are Ryan’s tips, somewhat abridged from his original blogpost, but I quote him:

  • 1. Who – Invite those who might be as passionate about wine, or learning as you. It’s probably not wise to invite both a wine novice and a self-proclaimed expert to the same group, but having a diversity of people with different interests and experiences can broaden the learning experience.

  •   2. What – Set some ground rules as to what you want to taste. Depending on who is involved, you may consider limits on a minimum or maximum price per bottle, how many bottles, etc. This is entirely up to you and what you want to get out of the group. I participated in one where we each brought a bottle of a particular varietal and had a suggested price limit.

  • 3. When – I’m a big fan of once a month and laying out the entire year in advance. When my current group formed, I was able to put in my calendar every event so I can plan around those days. I know the date, location, host, etc. And we also built in “off months”. December is too busy and July is vacation time so we scratched both. We also left April open for a group trip and January to include spouses or significant others.

  • 4. Where –Some choices: have each member host in their home, or restaurant of their choice. It’s good to move around so no one feels the burden of the entire group on a regular basis.

  • 5. Why – Pretty simple… to learn about and enjoy wine.

  • 6. How –There are no global right or wrong ways to set a group up. Some groups can have the same set group each month where others can be more fluid with different people coming in and out depending on availability. Some can pick particular themes to explore where others can leave it wide open. It’s up to you and the group.
Need more tips? Visit the blog at and search for “six steps”. Oh, you might just include a bottle of Washington wine in your tastings, too.

Published in Wine Time column, The Tahoe Weekly, on April 9, 2014

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