Choosing a wine club

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Regardless of where you find yourself in your wine journey you will be offered the chance to join a wine club. Clubs offer many benefits and between those offered by wineries, retailers and even some publications it is likely you will find one that works for you. The question for each consumer is how to pick the right club, granted it is not a lifelong commitment but jumping around between clubs can take some doing so a bit of planning will make it easier.

The best place to start before going looking for wine clubs is to consider your own consumption patterns, likes and dislikes. Start with how many bottles you consume on a monthly or annual basis. There is no point joining a wine club that sends too many bottles for you to get through in your normal drinking pattern. In addition to having bottles from your club left over it affords you no chance to supplement your club purchases with other wine you find that you really like outside of your club. Our wine club here at the dinner party is 3 bottles per quarter; we designed it this way to fit easily into most consumers’ consumption count.

Next consider what is most important to you as a wine consumer. Are you more the type to want to go back to your old favorites or do you prefer to try new things and being exposed to wines you have never tried before? If you are likely to go back to the same bottles you like, a winery wine club might be best for you. Once you find a winery you really like you will then receive the same wine from them on their regular club cycle.

If you prefer to discover new things and learn about all the different kinds and styles of wine available you will be better off joining a wine club at a retail shop like the dinner party. We draw wines for our club selections from every winery we can find and from regions around the globe with an eye toward introducing wine consumers to new things, as well as some of our and our customer’s favorites.

Another factor to consider is the ability to get more of a wine you get through your wine club and discover that you really like. If you want to be able to start a collection of your favorites from your club selections a retail wine shop or winery club will be the best choice for you. We always secure enough of our wine club selections for our members to get more of each wine, and wineries almost always have enough to fill their member’s needs. The wine clubs sponsored by magazines, newspapers and even television stations are typically building their wine club selections around either wine they have private labeled for them or wines that are being closed out. You rarely have the opportunity to get more of any of their club selections because of this approach, they are in fact only buying the exact number they need for their club, and then it’s gone.

In addition to gaining access to wines your really like most wine clubs offer or should offer additional benefits. With a wine club at a wine shop you should always get your club discount on everything in the store not just your club purchases. Preferential treatment for reservations at tastings and wine dinners is also a plus and something easy for a wine club to grant. Tasting notes and even food pairing recipes for your wine club wines are also a bonus and make the entire club experience more fun.

One cautionary note with a wine club is to watch for older vintages or odd bottles showing up in your club on a regular basis. As retailers we are all offered “deals” on certain wines that are being closed out by distributors either because they need to move beyond the vintage on hand or because the wine is leaving the market. Some of these are deals indeed others not so much. The ones that really are deals that we select for our club we pass the savings on to our club members.

Joining a wine club is a great way to explore the wine universe and to also secure your favorites to add to your collection. The trick is to find the club that fits you best. Stop by the shop or consult your favorite wine professional to determine just which club that is.

If there is a topic you would like to read about or if you have questions on wine, you can email George@thedinnerpartyshop.com, or make suggestions by contacting the Healthy Community section at the Coeur d’Alene Press.

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George Balling is co-owner (with his wife Mary Lancaster) of the dinner party, a wine and table top décor shop located by Costco in Coeur d’Alene. George worked as a judge in many wine competitions, and his articles are published around the country. You can learn more about the dinner party at www.thedinnerpartyshop.com. Be sure and check out our weekly blog at www.thedinnerpartyshop.com/home/blog-2. You can get all of these articles as well as other great wine tips by friending us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/#!/dinnerpartyshop.

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