Informal wine tasting club for 25-and-under

By Jesse on

Ed (03/08): This is the first-ever craigslist ad inviting people to what would eventually become the Young Winos of LA. It’s also about three pages long… I’m stunned that anyone kept reading long enough to find out where it was going to be held.

Informal wine tasting club for 25-and-under

Every Wednesday evening during the last semester of my senior year of college, between five and ten friends of ours would gather in our apartment around 8 PM for our “Wine Appreciation Club.” None of us knew much of anything about wine, and my own personal ignorance regarding what I thought to be a really fascinating subject was what prompted me to start the club in the first place. Each week, we’d agree upon a certain varietal — Chardonnay, for example — and some way that we’d like to analyze it (e.g. French Chardonnay vs. California Chardonnay).

The ten of us would assemble on and around the couch, break out our very utilitarian wine glasses, and open up a few bottles. The more serious of us had books open on our laps, reading facts and anecdotes about the particular grapes that we were tasting, relaying various olfactory sensations that the authors suggested we should be experiencing. The slightly less serious of us would make statements like “this tastes funny” and then ask for another glass. But I think it’s not an overstatement to suggest that everyone walked out of the sessions feeling at least slightly more knowledgeable about whatever element of the wine world we had discussed — and tasted — that day. Plus, by that point, it was 10 PM and everyone was rocking a moderate buzz, just in time to head out to the bars. Ah, to be a college senior again…

I just moved to LA with a few friends who graduated with me this past spring, and now that we’re all settled, I see no reason not to attempt to replicate what was really a very enjoyable college
experience. I’m proposing a wine club in a similar vein as the aforementioned collegiate incarnation: a small group of young people who don’t know much about wine, gathering once a week (or whenever people have time) and passing around a few bottles, sharing whatever information we do know and attempting to learn a little bit more. My guess is that it will be a great way to meet others who share this fledgling interest while learning a few things and — of course — working up a decent wine buzz. Is there any other kind?

WHERE WILL IT BE HELD? The first session, and as many as necessary after that, can be at our spacious new apartment in Sherman Oaks, right next to Studio City. We have a large living room and a nice balcony… it’ll be perfect. In the future, my hope is that other members can take turns hosting.

WHAT KIND OF WINE WILL WE BE TASTING? It will change by the week. One week we might do the Chardonnay experiment that I mentioned, one week we might compare different types of Italian reds, another week we might foray into dessert wines and fortified wines. We’ll decide that by e-mail several days before the meeting.

IS THERE A FEE? Basically, you can choose to either bring a bottle of whatever it is we’re drinking OR bring a little bit of cash to reimburse those who did bring wine. Unless we’re doing something really expensive, it usually works out to around five bucks. Definitely a good deal.

WHY DOES IT SAY 25-AND-UNDER? So we make sure it stays fun and doesn’t get too formal. The wine world seems to be dominated by the 25-and-up crowd; there’s no forum in which young people who are interested in wine ever get to meet other young people. And plus, being new to town, my roommates and I are particularly interested in meeting people our own age who share our interests. If we wanted to meet 25-and-over’s who like wine, we could just walk into a wine shop and say, “hey, does anyone here like wine?”

I KNOW A LOT ABOUT WINE. I’M NOT A BEGINNER. AM I WELCOME? Sure, man, no sweat, just make sure you keep a lid on it. Don’t randomly go spouting off your vast tracts of knowledge. We’re all there to learn, and you’re surely a valuable resource, but you have to remember that we want to learn at our own pace, using our own senses. If we all come to the conclusion that we like the taste of the 2002 Riesling better than the 2003, it’s not going to be in anyone’s interest for you to be all, “well, you’re wrong, because the 2003 was definitely a better vintage.” Of course disagreement will be welcome and encouraged. But no self-righteous wine snobs please.

WHO ARE YOU? My name’s Jesse, and I’m a 22-year-old New York native who was fortunate enough to attend college in the Finger Lakes region of my fair state, arguably the best wine region on the east coast. I was ignorant enough not to begin to enjoy the substantial output of that region until returning from a semester in LA that I took in 2004. On a weekend trip to Napa that spring, I became completely enamored with the idea of learning more about wine, a process that more or less culminated with the formation of the Wine Appreciation Club in 2005. Now I’m back in LA for good, and our proximity here to some of the world’s greatest wine regions necessitates, in my opinion, the conscious self-immersion of anyone with even a slight interest in the topic. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way. My hope is that I’ve piqued the interest of some other wine amateurs who might’ve heretofore been discouraged by the lack of venues catering to their identity as a young person who doesn’t know much about wine but wants to learn.

Interested? Drop me an e-mail so my roommates and I know how many to plan for. I think it makes sense to host our first meeting this coming Tuesday, October 4, at 9 PM. It will be held at our apartment in Sherman Oaks, and I’ll send you the address once you e-mail me. Word of mouth will definitely help this thing grow, so tell any friends that you think might be intrigued. And feel free to e-mail me with any questions. Thanks for your interest!