Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

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J Murphy
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Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#1 Post by J Murphy » August 26th, 2018, 10:10 pm

Hello

Myself and 4 other friends (we are in our late 30s and early 40s), started to have wine get together dinner parties at out homes. The spouses are invited and usually attend.

The way it has evolved is that we take turns hosting the event in our own homes. The host picks the theme and buys all the wine, usually around 6 bottles. Host also buys and prepares the dinner food. We divide the cost of the wine by 5 and each person pays (including the host).

We have had 4 of them so far and plan to have the last one of the first cycle in October.

As we are about to start another cycle I was thinking of asking if there is anything that they would like to change?

Whenever we have a get together it is never clear when the next one will be or who the host will be. I see value in strengthenng this aspect more so it is clear who is hosting and when (at least what month). The idea would be to have 5 get togethers a year, roughly every other month and perhaps omitting November and December due to the often busy holiday season. Looking for ideas on which months to omit? Or the contrary which 5 months of the year to hold them. Note most of the members have school aged children.

What if a member can't make one of the events or cancels last minute. Should that member still have to pay?

Also we need to communicate food aversions and or diet restrictions. There is a vegetarian in the group, and a couple of others that don't eat red meat. Two events passed and the hosts did not recognize this.

Currently host provides one glass to each person. If we were to consider a glass per wine we would then ask each person to bring their own glasses.

Any other ideas or suggestions?
J a m e s

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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#2 Post by alan weinberg » August 26th, 2018, 10:16 pm

find a restaurant w a good corkage policy, being your own glasses, and don’t swear it.

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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#3 Post by J Murphy » August 26th, 2018, 10:29 pm

I forgot to mention an item that has came up, its an etiquette topic. Since its ongoing and we all take turns hosting does it make sense for people to bring a host / hostess gift? Part of me thinks no. Would it be considered rude to walk in empty handed?

Similarly there are the gushing thank you emails that follow every event ( I am guilty of this). Can't we just say thank you at the end of the event and that be it?
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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#4 Post by J Murphy » August 26th, 2018, 10:31 pm

alan weinberg wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 10:16 pm
find a restaurant w a good corkage policy, being your own glasses, and don’t swear it.
good suggestion, this has crossed my mind before and I looked into it. I found a restaurant that would do this but it couldn't be a Friday or Saturday night, they would actually waive the fee completely. However w hav the events on a Saturday.

For now I still want to explore ideas for rotating houses.
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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#5 Post by J Murphy » August 26th, 2018, 10:44 pm

I guess the better name for what we are doing is a Wine Tasting Club
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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#6 Post by Ian Sutton » August 27th, 2018, 2:56 am

J Murphy wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 10:29 pm
I forgot to mention an item that has came up, its an etiquette topic. Since its ongoing and we all take turns hosting does it make sense for people to bring a host / hostess gift? Part of me thinks no. Would it be considered rude to walk in empty handed?

Similarly there are the gushing thank you emails that follow every event ( I am guilty of this). Can't we just say thank you at the end of the event and that be it?
This is just how society is, and for me just evidences that you've got decent people, who want to be polite and thankful. Based on this happening, I think you've got a group who will naturally ensure others don't lose out. Indeed the biggest risk is probably each trying harder each time to ensure they are pulling their weight in the group. That can be a genuine risk as everyone subconsciously 'ups the stakes' in trying to be fair and generous. For now, I agree you're over-sweating it.

I really do like the idea of introducing the restaurant, and at the minimum, that's the problem of 5 into 12 not going, so the extra 2 months are at a restaurant. I'd suggest one of them being January, as if people do a lot of entertaining over xmas, this gives them a break, plus the restaurants may well welcome 10 people with corkage in January, as trade may be down.

It is worth considering what role food plays for the participants. For some the food may be just as important as the wine. Ours started off as a wine tasting circle with basic 'background' food, then the friendships built, partners started attending and the food grew from being fancier (but still secondary) to now an equal partner to the wine, but secondary to the friendships. It's not really a tasting group now - we don't take notes, but I'm very happy where it ended up.

It might be that there are keen amateur cooks in the group, and doing the events at home allow them the opportunity to try out their talents. Or they are intimidated by that side of it, and a restaurant takes that pressure off.

Regards
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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#7 Post by Kevin Kitagawa » August 27th, 2018, 9:33 am

Host buying the wine - The only reason to do this is the host has a specific theme and they have the wines for people to try. OR, you're really concerned that everyone pay the exact same amount and are worried that if people bring their own wine, this becomes a problem because someone will bring junk and others won't...

Honestly, having done this in different countries..that is just never a concern. You're also not splitting the cost for the food so this can't really be considered a problem..

If you have all agreed people will host (and decide what food to make) then you can do the same with the wine. Set a theme so people can learn about wine and people will bring something they think is interesting within that theme. For those that know less about a region/theme then it'll force them to look into it a bit....People won't want to bring a stinker..and if someone does then the group will self regulate itself..but most people want to bring something other people will enjoy and that will push the educational part as well. It also allows for a bit of freedom and exploration. It also means someone who has the means and wants to share an expensive bottle, they can do it without having the group fund that (which may be out of their comfort zone price wise).

That also solves your bring a gift issue...everyone is bringing wine! Or you can have it so the guests bring wine..the host does the food...

For dietary requirements....your group will need to sort that out but it is a huge burden on the hosts to cater to everyone's specific dietary requirements. This is why a restaurant ends up being such a good idea.

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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#8 Post by NED VALOIS » August 27th, 2018, 9:57 am

One of my wine groups (G12) meets monthly a member's home or restaurant (rotating basis) of host's choice. A theme (country, grape , Parker ratings etc) is declared 2-4 weeks ahead of the event and each person brings a compliant wine or the host can announce that he will supply all wines (cellar reducing effort). The food is always supplied by the host and additional bonus wines are usually served. This group has 12 permanent members and, if someone can't attend , we have happy backup winos to invite.
12 members ,yearly scheduled,12 months works for us.

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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#9 Post by Michael Martin » August 27th, 2018, 10:46 am

We went through something similar in our neighborhood.
We picked months at the beginning of year and avoided December and January. The host decided the theme and provided the main course and sent out an Evite explaining the details. We all brought 2 bottles of wine and side to pass that fit the theme. No money was exchanged. We set a minimum price for the wines. It worked fine for a few years until people started to move. It eventually died out, but it went well for at least few years.

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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#10 Post by BobMilton » August 27th, 2018, 10:51 am

J Murphy wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 10:29 pm
I forgot to mention an item that has came up, its an etiquette topic. Since its ongoing and we all take turns hosting does it make sense for people to bring a host / hostess gift? Part of me thinks no. Would it be considered rude to walk in empty handed?

Similarly there are the gushing thank you emails that follow every event ( I am guilty of this). Can't we just say thank you at the end of the event and that be it?
The tasting group my wife and I are in doesn't do host/hostess gifts. We do keep an upcoming tasting schedule on Facebook and people volunteer up to a year in advance (most are a couple of months in advance). Host/Hostess pick the varietal or blend type, and usually each couple brings a compliant wine (in a brown paper bag of course). We have a maximum cost most of the time, and a few have a minimum set instead. Has worked well for nearly 20 years now.

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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#11 Post by dsimmons » August 27th, 2018, 12:32 pm

Our group of four couples has 4 dinners a year plus several impromptu mini tastings in between.

The host couple provides the main dish with others bringing appetizers, deserts, salads and sometimes sides. At impromptu events everyone brings an appetizer dish.

The theme is predetermined and each couple brings two bottles of theme whine. We also usually have a bubbly to start and a sticky to go with desert. The dinner events are normally 6-12 pm. At impromptu events we usually have half as much wine and they are usually 5:30-9 or 10.

Dinners are normally a Saturday evening while impromptu events are normally after work.

We have been doing this over 10 years.
D o n

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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#12 Post by John Morris » August 27th, 2018, 12:35 pm

There was an excellent thread on this topic a few years ago. I'm not sure how to search for it, but it covered every conceivable issue, and had lots of suggestions.

Anyone else remember that? Any idea of a key word that would pull it up?
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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#13 Post by Jay Miller » August 27th, 2018, 12:42 pm

John Morris wrote:
August 27th, 2018, 12:35 pm
There was an excellent thread on this topic a few years ago. I'm not sure how to search for it, but it covered every conceivable issue, and had lots of suggestions.

Anyone else remember that? Any idea of a key word that would pull it up?
Is this the one you were thinking of?

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=138993&p=2237313&hi ... p#p2237313

Just noticed that the old URL button is gone, not sure how to make this a link.
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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#14 Post by Jay Miller » August 27th, 2018, 1:21 pm

Ripe fruit isn't necessarily a flaw.

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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#15 Post by John Morris » August 27th, 2018, 2:16 pm

Yes, Jay, thanks. I'd forgotten that there were two such threads. Having been involved in a number of groups, including ones I've hosted, over 30+ years, I thought those discussions were excellent.
“The writing of legislation is perhaps the highest art form the United States has yet achieved, even more original and compelling than the television commercial.” – Gore Vidal, 1974

It's hard for a $35 zin to compete with a $100 cabernet that tastes the same. – me, 2018

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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#16 Post by Howard Cooper » August 27th, 2018, 2:59 pm

J Murphy wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 10:10 pm

What if a member can't make one of the events or cancels last minute. Should that member still have to pay?

Also we need to communicate food aversions and or diet restrictions. There is a vegetarian in the group, and a couple of others that don't eat red meat. Two events passed and the hosts did not recognize this.
My guess is that if you make people pay for events they cannot attend or do not serve food people can eat (as a result of food aversions or allergies or diet restrictions), your group will not last long.
Howard

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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#17 Post by Marcus Dean » August 27th, 2018, 3:40 pm

Howard Cooper wrote:
August 27th, 2018, 2:59 pm
J Murphy wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 10:10 pm

What if a member can't make one of the events or cancels last minute. Should that member still have to pay?

Also we need to communicate food aversions and or diet restrictions. There is a vegetarian in the group, and a couple of others that don't eat red meat. Two events passed and the hosts did not recognize this.
My guess is that if you make people pay for events they cannot attend or do not serve food people can eat (as a result of food aversions or allergies or diet restrictions), your group will not last long.
best bet would be to book a restaurant so people can order off a menu, these days people have such weird aversions, allergies and restrictions that I cant really be bothered entertaining at home anymore and catering to peoples needs (be they real or "life style choices")

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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#18 Post by Howard Cooper » August 27th, 2018, 4:19 pm

Marcus Dean wrote:
August 27th, 2018, 3:40 pm
Howard Cooper wrote:
August 27th, 2018, 2:59 pm
My guess is that if you make people pay for events they cannot attend or do not serve food people can eat (as a result of food aversions or allergies or diet restrictions), your group will not last long.
best bet would be to book a restaurant so people can order off a menu, these days people have such weird aversions, allergies and restrictions that I cant really be bothered entertaining at home anymore and catering to peoples needs (be they real or "life style choices")
We make dinner for friends all the time and make adjustments to people's needs. It really is not that big a deal. The needs of our friends are more important to us than the perfect meal.
Howard

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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#19 Post by Howard Cooper » August 27th, 2018, 4:23 pm

J Murphy wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 10:29 pm
I forgot to mention an item that has came up, its an etiquette topic. Since its ongoing and we all take turns hosting does it make sense for people to bring a host / hostess gift? Part of me thinks no. Would it be considered rude to walk in empty handed?
When we have wine friends to dinner or go to their house, the usual practice among our group is that we set a theme and everyone brings a bottle rather than one person providing all the wine. Most of us have pretty large cellars so that we can do a variety of themes without much issue. Usually the host adds Champagne, whites and/or sweet wine.

As a result of this practice, nobody goes to anyone's house empty-handed.
Howard

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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#20 Post by Mattstolz » August 27th, 2018, 5:41 pm

i think some communication would be a good idea it sounds like. maybe you should start a list of peoples food aversions/allergies so that everyone has it.

i think multiple glasses for an event like this is a definite must. it keeps people from needing to rush through a wine just to get to the next one, and lets you compare multiple wines at once.

as for some of the other things, I think part of it depends on the means of the group and how much money people wanna throw to this group. A restaurant is OK but its gonna be more expensive than going to a restaurant for wine dinners, even bringing your own. i personally love cooking for groups so i would choose doing this over paying 100 for restaurant food. not everyone wants to make that tradeoff. if everyone is committed to making a certain level of food and doesnt mind entertaining, i think the house thing is best, but it sounds like you need a schedule. if you are all splitting food and wine cost and have one person who enjoys cooking/entertaining, you could always keep the same house and rotate wine providers.

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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#21 Post by Philip N. Jones » August 27th, 2018, 7:25 pm

I vote for the multiple glass idea. I once found an article in an ancient issue of Sunset Magazine. They suggested drawing five circles on a sheet of photocopy paper and then marking the circles A, B, C, D, and E. Then copies of the page are made for each person and placed above their plate at the dinner table and five gasses were placed on the page. Then five bottles are marked with the same letters and poured before the guests arrive. The empty bottles are then hidden. Everyone gets to enjoy all five glasses blind throughout the entire dinner, and everyone gets to rate or rank each glass. The bottles are revealed at the end of dinner. Works great.
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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#22 Post by john stimson » August 27th, 2018, 8:30 pm

Personally, I find that if you are trying to do really fine wine and fine multi course food, it gets to be too much and too confusing. The highest end wine group that I participate in really doesn't care much what we eat while we are drinking wine--could be granola for all that most of us care (well, maybe not, but we've had plenty of tastings with pizza, preceded perhaps by bread and a bit of cheese.) the eating part of the evening is perhaps 20-30 minutes, the rest is wine, with snacks.

Sure, wine and food are great matches, but when you are focused on the wine, anything but simple food is a distraction, and a bit of a pain for the host. A Pate, bread, some finger foods are fine with me.

What a number of folks are describing here are more dinner groups than wine tasting groups, which is great if that's what you are aiming for.

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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#23 Post by GregT » August 27th, 2018, 8:47 pm

Buy some glasses, or have everyone buy some glasses so you can have more than one glass per person!

If you take turns hosting, then everyone gets to put together the dinner/wine they want.

One thing you may consider is collecting a kitty at the beginning of your year - say everyone kicks in $500 or so and then figure out what wines you're interested in doing tastings with and then reimburse the cost of the wine from the kitty. Some tastings will cost more than others but everyone kicked in already. And let the host of the event provide the food.

If one person is vegetarian, that doesn't mean everyone has to be, but you can always provide something for that person.

No need to bring a hostess gift if it's a regular thing and everyone is rotating.
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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#24 Post by J.Vizuete » August 27th, 2018, 9:01 pm

I’m rather delighted to see that so many others participate in groups like this. I have as well for the last 4-5 years. It started as a themed dinner club, but the emphasis on wine has grown significantly. In our case, a few are more interested in the wine than the rest, so we typically select wine that fits the theme and budget of the other members of our group. i.e. We’ll tell the others more or less what they ought to bring.

There’s a lot of good feedback here, and I’ve benefitted from the same previously on WB. My .02 is that you should thoughtfully consider and solicit the desires of each couple. I like the idea of letting the host choose the venue. Maybe only one couple picks a restaurant, but that could be a respite for them. Choosing what months at the beginning of the year goes a long way to ensure everyone plans around the event. We DONT do that at our dates routinely get pushed back.

The other difference with my group is that we all participate in the food production. Seems like a big burden to host if you are paying for and cooking for 10-12. We all show up relatively early to the host’s home, start with a cocktail, and work together to prepare a meal. The joy of all of this is in shared experience, right? I could ponder the wines alone but what I really crave is the camaraderie of prep work alongside good friends and mutual discussion and enjoyment on special wines I’m far less likely to open alone.

I hope your group finds its sweet spot and goes for many years. Preserve the lost art! This was our last one, themed “steakhouse”:
F1326552-85E9-4A01-8172-3ACF0FD4E230.jpeg
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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#25 Post by Philip N. Jones » August 27th, 2018, 10:06 pm

My wife and I have been doing our supper club every month for forty years, except in December. There are eight members, four couples. We have made it through one death and one divorce, so the membership has not been 100% the same, but six of the eight are still going strong, with two newcomers arriving by way of marriages. Which is just about the only way a newcomer can get in. We are not really a wine tasting club, but we bring wine every month. It has been a constant in my life for forty years. A joy.
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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#26 Post by Scott Brunson » August 28th, 2018, 3:04 am

Most of our events are blind; my wife sews seasonal-themed wine bags for everyone several times per year.
We always do BYOStems.
I think your plan of dividing the cost of the wines will work great until someone has to pay a few times.
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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#27 Post by J Murphy » August 28th, 2018, 7:16 am

Ian Sutton wrote:
August 27th, 2018, 2:56 am
J Murphy wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 10:29 pm
I forgot to mention an item that has came up, its an etiquette topic. Since its ongoing and we all take turns hosting does it make sense for people to bring a host / hostess gift? Part of me thinks no. Would it be considered rude to walk in empty handed?

Similarly there are the gushing thank you emails that follow every event ( I am guilty of this). Can't we just say thank you at the end of the event and that be it?
This is just how society is, and for me just evidences that you've got decent people, who want to be polite and thankful. Based on this happening, I think you've got a group who will naturally ensure others don't lose out. Indeed the biggest risk is probably each trying harder each time to ensure they are pulling their weight in the group. That can be a genuine risk as everyone subconsciously 'ups the stakes' in trying to be fair and generous. For now, I agree you're over-sweating it.

I really do like the idea of introducing the restaurant, and at the minimum, that's the problem of 5 into 12 not going, so the extra 2 months are at a restaurant. I'd suggest one of them being January, as if people do a lot of entertaining over xmas, this gives them a break, plus the restaurants may well welcome 10 people with corkage in January, as trade may be down.

It is worth considering what role food plays for the participants. For some the food may be just as important as the wine. Ours started off as a wine tasting circle with basic 'background' food, then the friendships built, partners started attending and the food grew from being fancier (but still secondary) to now an equal partner to the wine, but secondary to the friendships. It's not really a tasting group now - we don't take notes, but I'm very happy where it ended up.

It might be that there are keen amateur cooks in the group, and doing the events at home allow them the opportunity to try out their talents. Or they are intimidated by that side of it, and a restaurant takes that pressure off.

Regards
Ian
good ideas, I didn't get what you meant by 5 into 12 not going?

I think for now we are going to stick with rotating homes as it will keep the cost down and we don't have the time pressure to leave so the restaurant can turn over the table.

I believe with some communication and fine adjustments we can improve our event.
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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#28 Post by J Murphy » August 28th, 2018, 7:22 am

Kevin Kitagawa wrote:
August 27th, 2018, 9:33 am
Host buying the wine - The only reason to do this is the host has a specific theme and they have the wines for people to try. OR, you're really concerned that everyone pay the exact same amount and are worried that if people bring their own wine, this becomes a problem because someone will bring junk and others won't...

Honestly, having done this in different countries..that is just never a concern. You're also not splitting the cost for the food so this can't really be considered a problem..

If you have all agreed people will host (and decide what food to make) then you can do the same with the wine. Set a theme so people can learn about wine and people will bring something they think is interesting within that theme. For those that know less about a region/theme then it'll force them to look into it a bit....People won't want to bring a stinker..and if someone does then the group will self regulate itself..but most people want to bring something other people will enjoy and that will push the educational part as well. It also allows for a bit of freedom and exploration. It also means someone who has the means and wants to share an expensive bottle, they can do it without having the group fund that (which may be out of their comfort zone price wise).

That also solves your bring a gift issue...everyone is bringing wine! Or you can have it so the guests bring wine..the host does the food...

For dietary requirements....your group will need to sort that out but it is a huge burden on the hosts to cater to everyone's specific dietary requirements. This is why a restaurant ends up being such a good idea.
thanks for the thoughtful reply

our group feels that there are some good advantages for the host buying all the wine. First a huge educational experience to choose a theme and then select the bottles. Give buyer latitute to but a $15 bottle and a $45 bottle. All the bottles are already at the home, can decant properly if needed, saves everyone a trip to the store, avoids duplicate bottles, and avoids who brought the best / leave favorite / expensive/ cheap wine. Not concerned others will bring junk.

The food topic needs to be discussed and I don't think it is a big deal.
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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#29 Post by J Murphy » August 28th, 2018, 7:27 am

Howard Cooper wrote:
August 27th, 2018, 2:59 pm
J Murphy wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 10:10 pm

What if a member can't make one of the events or cancels last minute. Should that member still have to pay?

Also we need to communicate food aversions and or diet restrictions. There is a vegetarian in the group, and a couple of others that don't eat red meat. Two events passed and the hosts did not recognize this.
My guess is that if you make people pay for events they cannot attend or do not serve food people can eat (as a result of food aversions or allergies or diet restrictions), your group will not last long.
agree

we need to communicate and do some fine tuning.
I know of a group that members have to pay even if they don't show up, we are not going there with our group but understand why some groups do it. What happens if two of the five couples cancel last minute, should the host be stuck with the bill or others pay more... we are not going there
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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#30 Post by J Murphy » August 28th, 2018, 7:29 am

Marcus Dean wrote:
August 27th, 2018, 3:40 pm
Howard Cooper wrote:
August 27th, 2018, 2:59 pm
J Murphy wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 10:10 pm

What if a member can't make one of the events or cancels last minute. Should that member still have to pay?

Also we need to communicate food aversions and or diet restrictions. There is a vegetarian in the group, and a couple of others that don't eat red meat. Two events passed and the hosts did not recognize this.
My guess is that if you make people pay for events they cannot attend or do not serve food people can eat (as a result of food aversions or allergies or diet restrictions), your group will not last long.
best bet would be to book a restaurant so people can order off a menu, these days people have such weird aversions, allergies and restrictions that I cant really be bothered entertaining at home anymore and catering to peoples needs (be they real or "life style choices")
agree, I believe our differences are minor they have just not been communicated... with some minor adjustments I think we will be fine.
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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#31 Post by J Murphy » August 28th, 2018, 7:41 am

Mattstolz wrote:
August 27th, 2018, 5:41 pm
i think some communication would be a good idea it sounds like. maybe you should start a list of peoples food aversions/allergies so that everyone has it.

i think multiple glasses for an event like this is a definite must. it keeps people from needing to rush through a wine just to get to the next one, and lets you compare multiple wines at once.

as for some of the other things, I think part of it depends on the means of the group and how much money people wanna throw to this group. A restaurant is OK but its gonna be more expensive than going to a restaurant for wine dinners, even bringing your own. i personally love cooking for groups so i would choose doing this over paying 100 for restaurant food. not everyone wants to make that tradeoff. if everyone is committed to making a certain level of food and doesnt mind entertaining, i think the house thing is best, but it sounds like you need a schedule. if you are all splitting food and wine cost and have one person who enjoys cooking/entertaining, you could always keep the same house and rotate wine providers.
am totally onboard with your response...

Since I posted I was thinking how with some communication and fine tuning things will be for the better.

most of the people are also foodies and enjoy cooking.


we currently are not splitting food cost, just the wine cost.

I've thought about ones that might just be wine provides, as once couple aren't good at cooking nor do they seem to want to entertain in their home.
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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#32 Post by J Murphy » August 28th, 2018, 7:47 am

J.Vizuete wrote:
August 27th, 2018, 9:01 pm
I’m rather delighted to see that so many others participate in groups like this. I have as well for the last 4-5 years. It started as a themed dinner club, but the emphasis on wine has grown significantly. In our case, a few are more interested in the wine than the rest, so we typically select wine that fits the theme and budget of the other members of our group. i.e. We’ll tell the others more or less what they ought to bring.

There’s a lot of good feedback here, and I’ve benefitted from the same previously on WB. My .02 is that you should thoughtfully consider and solicit the desires of each couple. I like the idea of letting the host choose the venue. Maybe only one couple picks a restaurant, but that could be a respite for them. Choosing what months at the beginning of the year goes a long way to ensure everyone plans around the event. We DONT do that at our dates routinely get pushed back.

The other difference with my group is that we all participate in the food production. Seems like a big burden to host if you are paying for and cooking for 10-12. We all show up relatively early to the host’s home, start with a cocktail, and work together to prepare a meal. The joy of all of this is in shared experience, right? I could ponder the wines alone but what I really crave is the camaraderie of prep work alongside good friends and mutual discussion and enjoyment on special wines I’m far less likely to open alone.

I hope your group finds its sweet spot and goes for many years. Preserve the lost art! This was our last one, themed “steakhouse”: F1326552-85E9-4A01-8172-3ACF0FD4E230.jpeg
good ideas - I'd like to solicit the desires of each couple, was thinking of doing this through email. Should I have the group respond just to me or to the entire group. I want to get candid unfiltered feedback. Or email couple individually?
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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#33 Post by Kevin Kitagawa » August 28th, 2018, 9:42 am

J Murphy wrote:
August 28th, 2018, 7:22 am
our group feels that there are some good advantages for the host buying all the wine. First a huge educational experience to choose a theme and then select the bottles. Give buyer latitute to but a $15 bottle and a $45 bottle. All the bottles are already at the home, can decant properly if needed, saves everyone a trip to the store, avoids duplicate bottles, and avoids who brought the best / leave favorite / expensive/ cheap wine. Not concerned others will bring junk.
That's just it though..it isn't about who brought the best/least favorite or expensive wine....and since there is no concern about people bringing poor wines, there shouldn't be any consideration about price. I'll be honest, none of the other reasons matter...People will want to learn more about a region to bring a wine..they'll go through the effort of getting it...Duplicates across a theme are incredibly rare unless you're all shopping at the same store (in which case your group will need to start looking online and other sources). Decanting can all be done by the person bringing the bottle and is actually easier for a person to care for their own wine than one person care for 6 different wines. Mostly though, in making it a group buy each time you're severely limiting what you will drink because not everyone will be able to afford upping that range....it doesn't sound like it to you but that is what is happening...which ultimately limits the growth and learning of the participants...

While it would be educational for the person picking a theme and buying all of the wines...the rest of the group misses out..it isn't nearly the same..it can't be...you're not invested you're just trying the wines..

In general the times the host provides all of the wines is if it is some very unusual theme or if they happen to have lots of wine in theme and would be better suited to doing that...like a vertical of a specific producer for example....

You can of course do whatever you think is best....I will say, how you're starting off, I've seen lots of people start off a tasting group that way because everyone is concerned about equality across the bottles brought and staying within a budget for each person...

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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#34 Post by J Murphy » August 28th, 2018, 10:09 am

Kevin Kitagawa wrote:
August 28th, 2018, 9:42 am
J Murphy wrote:
August 28th, 2018, 7:22 am
our group feels that there are some good advantages for the host buying all the wine. First a huge educational experience to choose a theme and then select the bottles. Give buyer latitute to but a $15 bottle and a $45 bottle. All the bottles are already at the home, can decant properly if needed, saves everyone a trip to the store, avoids duplicate bottles, and avoids who brought the best / leave favorite / expensive/ cheap wine. Not concerned others will bring junk.
That's just it though..it isn't about who brought the best/least favorite or expensive wine....and since there is no concern about people bringing poor wines, there shouldn't be any consideration about price. I'll be honest, none of the other reasons matter...People will want to learn more about a region to bring a wine..they'll go through the effort of getting it...Duplicates across a theme are incredibly rare unless you're all shopping at the same store (in which case your group will need to start looking online and other sources). Decanting can all be done by the person bringing the bottle and is actually easier for a person to care for their own wine than one person care for 6 different wines. Mostly though, in making it a group buy each time you're severely limiting what you will drink because not everyone will be able to afford upping that range....it doesn't sound like it to you but that is what is happening...which ultimately limits the growth and learning of the participants...

While it would be educational for the person picking a theme and buying all of the wines...the rest of the group misses out..it isn't nearly the same..it can't be...you're not invested you're just trying the wines..

In general the times the host provides all of the wines is if it is some very unusual theme or if they happen to have lots of wine in theme and would be better suited to doing that...like a vertical of a specific producer for example....

You can of course do whatever you think is best....I will say, how you're starting off, I've seen lots of people start off a tasting group that way because everyone is concerned about equality across the bottles brought and staying within a budget for each person...
thanks for the insight and ideas

the rest of the group doesn't miss out, it is a rotating event and everyone gets a turn. I think there is something to be said for one person doing research and getting a good representations on the theme compared to people buy random bottles within the (theme).

For example I did a Sauvignon Blanc tasting, I picked bottles form Napa, a Sincere, Bordeaux, New Zealand and Italy. If it was everyone bring a Sauvignon Blanc we could have easily ended up will all California bottles.

This was very educational for me as well as the attendees as they got to taste Sauvignon Blanc from several different countries.

I don't understand your comment about the group buy being limited, if we set the contribution limit around $50 per couple we have $250 to buy 6 bottles, that is $41.66 per bottle average, which gives us tons of latitude where for every $20 bottle that is bought a $60 bottle could be bought (for example).
Last edited by J Murphy on August 28th, 2018, 10:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#35 Post by Jay Miller » August 28th, 2018, 10:13 am

Our monthly blind tasting group is somewhat similar, in that the host for the month supplies all the wines. That allows for someone to design a coherent set of flights whether across the board or simply moving from lighter to heavier.

This works best when the members have cellars which they are happy to be opening bottles from and really don't care if one person is opening less expensive bottles than someone else. If not then your contribution model seems like a good idea.
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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#36 Post by Kevin Kitagawa » August 28th, 2018, 11:06 am

J Murphy wrote:
August 28th, 2018, 10:09 am
the rest of the group doesn't miss out, it is a rotating event and everyone gets a turn. I think there is something to be said for one person doing research and getting a good representations on the theme compared to people buy random bottles within the (theme).

For example I did a Sauvignon Blanc tasting, I picked bottles form Napa, a Sincere, Bordeaux, New Zealand and Italy. If it was everyone bring a Sauvignon Blanc we could have easily ended up will all California bottles.
If that's the case then they're all being lazy and goes against what you just said. Why would it be different when you're hosting for you to find bottles from different areas than if you were to bringing a bottle to a theme? Wouldn't you put in the same type of effort looking for an interesting bottle if you were bringing a bottle? Probably...

That's the part you're missing though..people aren't supposed to buy random bottles they're supposed to actually look for something interesting for the group.

So if you consider that every theme people are putting in time thinking about the theme and selecting a bottle (because the themes are selected ahead of time) then people are educating themselves on the theme..then when it comes to the actual dinner, they'll learn more and they can relate because they've actually educated themselves a bit beforehand. Given your group hasn't done this before, I can understand why you don't quite understand what I'm trying to say..
J Murphy wrote:
August 28th, 2018, 10:09 am
This was very educational for me as well as the attendees as they got to taste Sauvignon Blanc from several different countries.

Except without the investment in time..they'll have learned very little..I'm not saying these types of events where someone hosts is not valuable..they are.....but when 6 people are educating themselves on a region and doing research, you'll get more than just one person which means you'll get different opinions, different exposures..people will find different things and have different things or be interested in different styles...
J Murphy wrote:
August 28th, 2018, 10:09 am
I don't understand your comment about the group buy being limited, if we set the contribution limit around $50 per couple we have $250 to buy 6 bottles, that is $41.66 per bottle average, which gives us tons of latitude where for every $20 bottle that is bought a $60 bottle could be bought (for example).
Please don't take this the wrong way..but it is because you haven't experienced it the other way that you don't understand this comment..
Generally a wine group is made up of different demographics, with varying income levels and varying degrees of what they'd be willing to spend on wine. You also have varying degrees of experience and varying depths of their wine cellars. In allowing people to bring a wine they think will be interesting, you're not blocking someone who wants to bring that 400 dollar bottle or that rare hard to find bottle that goes for 500...at the same time, people with maybe lesser means economically will spend more time trying to find something hard to get or interesting that may not fall into that same category but can be just as loved if not more so than the more expensive bottle. Since you've already declared that no one is just going to bring junk (although what you said about everyone just bringing CA Sauvignon Blanc suggests people might) then this is not an issue. Again, setting a limit is there because people are worried others will just drop by their local BevMo and pick up some random junk..no effort, no thought and it might just be cheap to boot...IMO, spending 30 dollars on just some random thing at your local chain wine store completely defeats the purpose of these types of things and to that I'd classify that as "junk". Also, even if everyone earns about the same...the level of interest and how much people will be willing to spend will eventually vary...

I will say, a successful wine group will tend to have people that want to share a lot more so than anything else..and they'll be interested in the wines and actually try to learn a lot about them both through tasting and educating themselves outside of the group..

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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#37 Post by Ian Sutton » August 28th, 2018, 12:40 pm

J Murphy wrote:
August 28th, 2018, 7:16 am

good ideas, I didn't get what you meant by 5 into 12 not going?
5 couples, 12 months.

Hence if planning for a calendar year, some would do 3 and others 2 as hosts. No problem though if it merely rotates through into the next year.
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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#38 Post by J Murphy » August 28th, 2018, 1:01 pm

Ian Sutton wrote:
August 28th, 2018, 12:40 pm
J Murphy wrote:
August 28th, 2018, 7:16 am

good ideas, I didn't get what you meant by 5 into 12 not going?
5 couples, 12 months.

Hence if planning for a calendar year, some would do 3 and others 2 as hosts. No problem though if it merely rotates through into the next year.
I got it. My vision is 5 gatherings a year, each one hosts once. So a gathering close to every other month, and omitting busy months like July and December.
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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#39 Post by J Murphy » February 11th, 2019, 10:07 pm

Hello

So we held 5 get togethers in the past year. Each couple hosted dinner / win at their home. There was never any guidelines or structure mentioned.

Most everyone was able to attend all however several times they were announced only 1-2 weeks in advance. And two of the get togethers were close to being back to back.

I was thinking of reaching out to the group to see if they still wanted to continue to have them. And to ask them for feedback on how things went last year and if there was anything that they felt could be improved. Basically open it up for discussion.

The biggest thing I would like improved is the scheduling. I was thinking of suggesting the following. For a get together in June the hosting couple would send out a poll in early May with two dates they could host in June. Others participate in the poll and the date with the most attendees is the date of the event. How does this sound? Is a month or a little bit more enough time?

I forgot to mention the makeup of our group. We all have kids that range from ages 5-11. The get togethers are adult only so the people get their own babysitters for the evening. The get togethers are usually on Saturdays with a start time of 7pm. All our kids are active so there are lots of other activities to schedule around and these dinner get togethers tend to fall lower on the priority as our kids come first. Because this is a lower priority its might not be wise to plan too far in advance. The other dynamic I sense is that for some it is less or a priority so they may not be able to commit too far in advance.

Looking for thoughts, ideas and suggestions on how far in advance to plan and also how to come up with the date.

I would like to find a reasonable balanced approach.
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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#40 Post by David Glasser » February 12th, 2019, 6:45 am

Our group of 4 couples would set the date for the next event at the end of the evening. Usually 1-2 months out, so most conflicts are already known. And with everyone face to face it gets done faster than by email or online poll.

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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#41 Post by GregT » February 12th, 2019, 8:33 am

While it would be educational for the person picking a theme and buying all of the wines...the rest of the group misses out..it isn't nearly the same..it can't be...you're not invested you're just trying the wines..
Kevin - I don't agree with this. There are many reasons a single person may want to buy the wines rather than have them come from all over. For example, the wines might be in his cellar, he may be closer to a source than other people are, he may have more time available, etc.

For many years I was in a group that did it exactly that way. Everyone had a say in what we were going to taste and everyone took turns selecting the wines. They might assign this or that person to pick up or bring a wine, but it was far more efficient than having everyone bring a bottle. And because some people had access to wines others didn't have, we were able to leverage that as well and the people with less discretionary income were able to benefit from the fact that most of the people were in the business and could obtain bottles at wholesale prices, from travel to Europe, or even complimentary bottles.

The food is the least important issue to me. If you're having a tasting group, just get some bread and cheese. If it's a dinner group, that's a whole other level of complexity. More work and a different experience because it's hard to have a lot of glasses in front of you when you have aromas and flavors and plates in the way. Both are fun, but the goals are different.
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Re: Wine party / club guidelines ideas?

#42 Post by johngonzales » February 12th, 2019, 8:39 am

We have an L.A. group composed of four couples who all met here in the wine boards many moons ago. We are all pretty serious about food and wine so that helps. Our format is a four course dinner where each couple brings a course, cooked on-site or st least finished, and pairs two wines with their course. We do appetizer (usually a duo) course, first course, main course, dessert. The dish and the wine are at the decision of each couple.

We rotate hosting homes. When you are main course you host and usually do a greeter wine to get rolling. The dinners are each quarter. We start bantering about dates that work for all as soon as one dinner completes for the next. So in order to keep the group, it can end up being a couple of weeks off from exactly three months. I think we have done it about 16 times and so far no one hasn’t had to miss.

In relation to your group, or any group, it seems like if you want to keep the regulars you need to discuss dates more than a month out and firm it at least a few weeks out. I think it’s straining to have someone pay for something that they can’t attend, unless they are a last minute cancellation. If someone does cancel close to the event then maybe they should kick in so as to not burden everyone else. Otherwise with advance notice, the remaining couples,can either pay a bit extra, or have a substitute couple join in.

I can see the benefit of a group-decided theme, but it’s just different. Assuming that the wine quality/experience is relatively similar from host to to host, I see little problem with the way it is originally described. Getting group-think on wine selections is indeed involvement, but part of the point is that it’s work and not as easy as having a host. The wine experience shouldn’t be much different, especially if maybe the wines get announced at least a couple of days in advance.

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