Choosing the Right Wine

Many people belong to wine clubs, but most have no idea how a wine of the month club goes about choosing the tasty wines they deliver to club members each month. The selection process usually consists of two different parts: setting the criteria for choosing particular wines and finding the wineries with wines that fit.

Common Criteria Used By Wine Clubs

Not surprisingly, the first decisive factor used by a wine of the month club in choosing wines is the price. Most groups look for wines that fit within two or three price points for French, Italian, California, or other wines.

Secondly, wine clubs usually look for balance in a wine. Balance is judged by how a wine exhibits the typical flavors of the grape variety used in making the wine. In other words, Cabernet Sauvignon should taste like Cabernet Sauvignon. If the wine is red, it should have an agreeable texture, a somewhat grainy characteristic that is derived from the tannings that reside in the seeds and skins.

That texture shouldn't give the taster a case of lockjaw, but it shouldn't be absent either, as it is in grape juice. Good texture lies somewhere in between. The wine should contain enough acid (the component that vinegar or lemon juice gives to salad dressing) to create a crisp, clean, refreshing sensation. Since white wine is not fermented with the seeds and skins, it has no tanning, but acid is an important component.

Finally, wood flavors should be inconspicuous. Beautiful red wines aged in old casks shouldn't reek of oak. The woodiness should be subtle, not overpowering.

Finding Good Wineries

Often, the selection committees for the group attend wine tasting events where they meet winemakers to taste their wines. Winemakers love the exposure they can get from a wine of the month club. Each year, Family Winemakers of California in San Francisco hosts one of the biggest wine tasting events. At the last event, 375 wineries poured over 1,000 wines during a two-day tasting. Attended by thousands of people, this yearly event is open to trade professionals, wine clubs, and the press.

The problem with finding the perfect wine for a wine of the month club at a massive event like this is that they are often "too much." There are too many wines, too many people, and too much going on to make a wise decision. Therefore, many wine clubs opt for smaller, more specialized tastings. Popular with wine of the month club selection committees, the annual Rhone Ranger tasting specializes in California wineries that produce Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, and other wines originally grown in the Rhone region of France.

The Cal-Ital Festival offers California wines made from grapes indigenous to Italy. The Zinfandel Advocates & Producers annual tasting specializes only in Zinfandel wines. Various regional wine organizations also gather their local producers for local events. For example, the Santa Cruz winery association recently organized a tasting in San Francisco. Various Sonoma wineries conduct tastings throughout the year, as do wine regions from all over California.

Sometimes the show goes on the road, and sometimes it's hosted in its own region. Importers will do the same to introduce and educate press and trade. Sometimes, individual Italian wineries will visit their major markets in the United States to conduct tasting seminars for restaurants, retailers, and wine clubs.

Government agencies in wine-producing countries also sponsor tastings attended by wine of the month club selection committees. Italy, France, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, and Germany make appearances in San Francisco and other major markets around the United States. The wine press is a good resource as are referrals from other wineries and other wine of the month club selection committees.

There are many formal venues for a wine of the month club to become acquainted with wines. It is a diligent effort that wine clubs make so that club members always have the perfect flavorful and aromatic wine to enjoy every month.

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About The Author, Kentcamp
Kent Campbell is a co-author for Celebrations Wine Club in collaboration with Anna Maria Knapp. Celebrations Wine Club is a reputed wine of the month club, and one of the few wine clubs offering the best wines for over 18 years.