Many years ago I joined Le Grand Crew, an Orange County wine club. It was a monthly gathering of 20 enthusiasts who fawned over wine. I joined as a novice, participated in the club for more than 20 years, and tasted practically every great wine made in the world. It was a wonderful educational experience, and it introduced me to many life-long friends.
If you have a burgeoning or serious interest in wine, I suggest either joining or forming a club to further your knowledge. A friend of mine recently told me of his new couples group that meets regularly. They choose a theme, every couple brings a bottle, and the wines are tasted blind to determine a favorite. At the end of the tasting, one wine is chosen as “special,” and attendees try to guess (blind) which one it is.
I also recently heard of Orange County Wine Elite, a unique club that’s seeking new members. The group meets every Saturday at a Huntington Beach or Newport Beach restaurant, for a blind tasting of wines from around the world. Weekly themes vary, and attendees pay the retail cost of the wines (purchased from local wine stores, sometimes at a discount), plus their own food expense. Arrangements are made with restaurants to waive corkage fees. OC Wine Elite specializes in mostly high-end wines, and the tastings always feature a sommelier-guided discussion on grapes, regions, and producers.
Check out the OC Wine Elite program and register at www.meetup.com/WineElite.
Other Orange County wine clubs include the Orange County Wine Society (www.ocws.org), and Wine Group of Orange County (www.meetup.com/ocwine). My club, Le Grand Crew, is still active, although I am no longer a member. Contact Steve Dember at firstname.lastname@example.org for information.