I agree with a lot of your ideas, Richard. I would certainly want to keep the meetings enjoyable rather than keep a rigid format just for the sake of it. Money will have to be discussed delicately but I don’t anticipate too much concern if done in a thoughtful and non-judgmental way.
My state does support BYOB and multiple nearby restaurants have fairly reasonable corkage fees. Many of the meetings will probably have young kids playing with each other so I expect most people would like to keep the majority of the meetings at someone’s home. I would love having some meetings at restaurants with or without the kids. A private chef cooking at a member’s home could be a fun event, especially if coupled with something like a ‘holiday baller’ type theme.
I agree with both of these points. I also agree that people will tend to want more than one stem. I usually have guests bring their own if we’re opening a bunch of bottles, or offer 1 of mine, with the caveat that they’ll only get 1 since I don’t have enough to supply multiples for a sizeable group.
I would strongly disagree with the idea of having only one wine per person. First, if there is a theme, you’ll be want to taste wines side by side, without having to drain your glass and repour (which will increase consumption!). Second, many wines evolve in the glass, and if you have to dump or drink each one before you go to the next, you won’t experience that development.
If you have more than one glass per person, and you have a group of 10 or more, it’s best to have identical glasses so you can measure pours. You only have to measure the first glass, then pour the others to the same level. (Speaking from 25+ years of hosting tastings, if you have more than 10 people, you’ll need to measure pours or the bottle may not go around the table. You can use a beaker or a jigger.)
I recall getting invited to a local tasting group, and the person inviting us said “… oh and bring 7 identical glasses each”. It was an excellent way to put people off starting on the wine journey (fortunately we were already part way down the road, and confident enough to make up our minds that this group wasn’t for us - and we found our long term group not long afterwards).
I do understand the geeky ‘compare and contrast’ mindset, and have been to many tastings where there are 6 or more glasses in front of every person. It’s got its place. However starting off a tasting group with this level of geekiness, may well put people off… just as we were put off.
Perhaps the compromise is to have a few spare glasses, so that if anyone wants to do it, it’s fine.
I’m not advocating for seven, but when doing some kind of theme, having three glasses in front of me to directly compare is a lot more beneficial than having to compare between pours in one glass. I will tell people we are pouring in flights of three, which they are welcome to do with three glasses, or just with one if they prefer. It’s very easy around here for someone committed to learning about wine to find three or six identical glasses at some kind of surplus/closeout store (Homegoods and the like). It’s fine if someone doesn’t want to do that, but I generally find that every attendee, or almost every one, does want to if it’s mentioned. I guess at some point it’s about the goals of the group. Plus, if I just have one or two people who weren’t able to bring a set, I can supply three glasses for each of them.
I host one group where we typically taste eight carefully chosen wines of one category. There everyone brings eight glasses so they can follow each wine over the course of an hour and a half or so and compare to other wines. But that’s admittedly at the geekier end of the scale.
Another group I’m in is in brown-bag format: Everyone brings a bottle and no one else knows what it is. The host provides two glasses, but I find that usually isn’t enough, because some wines need more time in a glass than the 15 minutes or so we spend before moving on. I often find it a travesty to dump something I’m pretty sure will be better with another 30 minutes – or a wine that I love so much that I want to return to it later just for pleasure.
FInally, if you have only one or two glasses and a lot of wines, people will typically knock back what’s in their glass to empty it for the next pour, so limited stemware can encourage rapid and sometimes unnecessary drinking.
Agree with multiple glasses and BYOG. It makes for a better format, as wine changes over the course of an hour or two. One of the benefits of doing a tasting is you can see how a wine that you are considering buying evolves over the course of an evening. It is basically the same thing you would do over a dinner. Pour drink and throw away is not the same thing.
Bringing your own glass makes sense it means the host doesn’t have to worry about washing glasses at the end of the evening. I had a box of glasses set aside for tastings.
I appreciate the discussion regarding stemware and it seems like if multiple stems are available then they should be used. Granted some won’t be ideal for drinking only Pinot noir but they should suffice for the circumstances. I’m sure everyone else participating has stemware at home but I will probably be able to manage with what I will have available. I reviewed what’s in my cupboards and here’s what I have followed by the maker’s recommended usage:
8 Grassl Cru - Burgundy and the preferred ones for the evening
8 Grassl 1855 - better suited for Bordeaux and others
10 Grassl Liberte - better suited for Beaujolais, Champagne and others
4 Gabriel Glas StandArt - universal
2 Spiegelau (unsure specific product) for Burgundy
2 Spiegelau (unsure specific product) for Bordeaux
2 Zenology for Pinot noir
8 generic red wine glasses I’ve had for decades
6 Schott Zweisel white wine glasses
A handful of Champagne flutes, stemless glasses and dessert stems that won’t be used for the tasting
For the 8 participants, I could use 8 Grassl Cru, 8 Grassl 1855, 8 Grassl Liberte and 8 generic red wine stems. So easily have 4 different wines in each of those stems. I could also use a variety of the remaining Grassl Liberte, Gabriel Glas and Schott Zweisel glasses for Champagne at that start. The Spiegelau and Zenology stems can be reserved for any breakage or unexpected issues.