When you walk into a wine shop, what do you do first? Do you casually walk around like I do, looking for recognizable labels even though you know you want one specific bottle of California Chardonnay or Argentinian Malbec (and you know exactly where it is)? Or is going to the wine shop a social experience, where you go to chat up the owner (your friend) and an hour later, you always seem walk away with three or four personally recommended bottles.
Tips for Starting a Wine Club
For most of us, it’s probably not the latter. So why not start a wine club? Once a month, get together with a couple of friends. Each guest would be responsible for bringing one bottle of reasonably-priced wine (say under $20) that they’ve yet to try and would consider serving for a party. The host or hostess would be responsible for providing glasses, cheese, crackers, and/or appetizers, and a table to gather around. Starting with the lightest wine, pour a small glass to each guest to taste and then discuss flavors, aromas, and food pairings amongst each other. And each proceeding month, the location would change as a different person would play host.
A wine club is a great way to socialize with friends, expand your knowledge of grapes and regions, and also develop your palate. One month, stick to a specific grape varietal and explore how the aromas and flavors of grapes grown in different regions vary. Another month, choose wines from one specific region, or explore a grape varietal that you’ve never heard of before. The best part? You’ll walk away with some wonderful budget-friendly wine recommendations to serve at your next gathering.
This Month's Recommendations
To get you started this month, we’ve pulled together five great wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. Each bottle is under $20 a pop and is perfect for serving all summer long, from a sparkling wine for a lazy weekend brunch to a juicy red to serve the guys the next time you’re grilling steak.
What new wines are you looking to try this summer?
This slightly-sweet and fruity pink-hued bubbly is made in the traditional Methode Champenoise. Serve it alone as an aperitif, or pair it with a flavorful beet salad. We’d serve this while enjoying an array of canapés in the garden.
2. Gilles Louvet Blanquette de Limoux 14.99
Made with organic grapes, this bubbly isn’t overly dry and has a faint herbal and green fruit-scented aroma. Serve it alongside Brie crostini at a dinner party, or serve it along with soup and sandwiches at a baby shower.
3. Domaine des Cadastres 2009 Roussanne 18.00
4. La Croix Gratiot 2008 Picpoul de Pinet, $12.99
Pale yellow in color, this easy-to-drink white has notes of grapefruit and green apple on the nose and is well-balanced with a light, bright acidity. Goes well with a chicken salad sandwich for a picnic lunch, or serve it along with lobsters and lobster rolls for a quintessential summer meal.
A deep-cherry red full of ultra-ripe dark fruit flavor, this wine isn’t overly tannic and has a delightfully velvety, slightly mineral finish. Serve it along with feather-light gnocchi and roasted Cornish hens for a wine country-style dinner party. We can’t stop thinking how great it would be along with juicy grilled steak or burger.