Back in 2005 I became a member of The Wine Century Club. This is hardly an achievement, but it fits my high geek-level. It is a loose-knit (that's an understatement!) group of wine lovers who have tried at least 100 different grape varieties. Considering most wine consumers rarely deviate from their typical encounters with Chardonnay or Merlot, this is going to be a small group.
More Than Just An Excuse to Drink Wine
It actually doesn't require über-geek classification to qualify, so long as you pay attention to the wines you drink and occasionally seek out unusual wines in order to expose yourself to new possibilities. What better reason could there be to drink wine, anyway? There's no sense in lying about it either, because you don't win a prize for having tried 100 different varieties (though you do get a hilarious certificate of membership--suitable for framing, of course).
I think The Wine Century Club does a wonderful thing for wine, in that it encourages wine lovers to try new wines (if they are interested in being involved with such a thing). The group of people who are interested in it are incredibly fun, because they find wine FUN, which negates any exclusiveness one may associate with wine (or with a club of people who've tried over a hundred grape varieties). There are even some local "chapters" of The Wine Century Club around the country: people get together to share some wine, and if you bring an off-beat wine, great, if you bring a Chardonnay, that's great too. And you don't need to be a member to attend. In fact, no one I know who has downloaded the form and filled it out would EVER exclude a non-member of the Wine Century Club from anything to do with wine, because we all want YOU to come share WINE with US.
There Is More than the Club
The man behind The Wine Century Club, Steve De Long, also created an ingenious table of grape varieties based on the layout of the Periodic Table of the Elements (the cunningly titled Wine Grape Varietal Table). If you are into wine but just learning, it can help serve as a basis for understanding your favorite wines. If you are already very experienced with wine, it can provide a solid reference for and reminder of the nature of the grape varieties that we so quickly take for granted. You might guess that I have this item already, but I also bought a fabulous map of the wine regions on the Iberian Peninsula. De Long has also prepared a map of California, which I will purchase alongside a pending map of Italy, which I am eagerly awaiting (because for a while there things were changing in Italian wine legislation as fast as Silvio Berlusconi changes teenage lovers, and I couldn't keep up).
I have no financial interest in these things, by the way--just an interest in sharing the work of a man whose perspectives on wine are not common enough. Check it out--drink some more wine, and join the club.
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