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The first rule of Wine Club...
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One of the joys of opening a good bottle of wine is sharing it with friends. Whether the plan is to sit, sip and swap tales – or to savor the wine with a good meal – the experience is sure to be memorable.

Another way to enjoy wine with others is in a wine club. We all have different sensory thresholds – the ability to distinguish tastes or flavors. Group feedback on a bottle of wine helps each member develop their palate and an appreciation of wine.

There are a variety of club structures. Some gather for formal tastings and compare notes over critical analysis. Others meet over well–planned meals, where wines are specifically paired with food. Somewhere, I’m sure there are groups akin to the stuffy wine club depicted on the sit–com Frasier.

My friends and I practice something much less formal. It’s easy, fun – and something you can put together by the end of today with your friends or co–workers.

Here’s how it works:

The club is made up of six people. The club manager assigns each member two months of the year in which to select and buy wines. When your month rolls around, you select a case of wine – two bottles for each member – and coordinate delivery. We started our club with a $10 per bottle limit, but kicked that up to $15 per bottle – and redefined the price as $30 per pair.

Why? Altering the price structure allowed a member to select an $8 bottle – an everyday drinker – and pair that with a $22 bottle that would be perfect with a special meal.

We don’t reimburse the purchaser – that became too much of a hassle. We’re built on confidence that each member stays close to budget. We don’t meet, but e–mail our opinions, our likes and dislikes, among the group. Once a year we’ll gather at a member’s house with our spouses for heavy hors d’ uvres. No pressure, no anxiety, no badges of rank on burgundy–colored ribbons.

Structure your club as your members choose. Maybe the group only wants red wines. Remember the object is to experience different wines and the variety of your friends’ tastes. And, above all, have fun!

Mix a six

After months of cajoling, erh, pleasant requests, from the craft beer fans, Habersham Beverage has begun offering consumers the option of mixing their own six pack.

This is great news for those of us who love to sample. With craft beer six packs pushing toward $15, the last thing I want is five beers remaining that I don’t really like.

This way, I can mix and match between styles. Pricing varies based on how you assemble your selections. cs