Last night Kris and I hosted the kickoff event of the Bennington Wine Tasting Meetup. Bennington didn’t have a wine tasting group. I’ve grumbled about this a bit. Especially as I prepare to start delving into WSET — I need to taste more. But, I hate to waste wine. When we open a bottle that is all we taste. If there’s anything left over (there’s usually not), we drink that the next night. I haven’t been able to comparatively taste because I don’t have the ability to drink that much wine before it goes bad. And so instead of grumbling, I reactivated my membership to Meetup, paid the fee for a year’s membership, put together the page and scheduled two tastings.
We had 8 tasters, only one of whom we knew prior to last night. More importantly: we had a great time and two experts in attendance. T & L owned a wine shop. Their expertise when it comes to temperature (and a million other things) and L’s ability to nail ABV entertained us all. We had people new to wine who dove right in with amazing questions. And someone who used to belong to a tasting Meetup in NYC but just relocated to Bennington. Yup: a great group.
Bennington Wine Tasting Meetup At-A-Glance
When putting this group together I wanted to create a fun, casual, unpretentious space where people at all different places in their wine journey could come together to explore the myriad facets of wine. Because I often have a ton of wine in the house it would be easy to do. And it’s easy to maintain with low dues. Yes, this meetup has dues but it also has wine and food.
What Members Get
Members can enjoy:
- 2-3 Tuesday night tastings a month in an accessible, private residence. Pairings are horizontal, vertical, or follow a unique theme.
- Informational materials. Each pairing includes a 2-3 page packet with the agenda, wines for the night including price and where to find them (when they are available), what to look for and expect when tasting and pairing advice.
- Tasting sheets. I use the Wine Folly tasting mats. In March I will create my own based on the WSET Systematic Approach to Tasting. Taking notes forces you to think more about your tasting experience and focus on each aspect of the wine. It also allows you to build a profile of regions, grapes and winemaking processes that create a wine you love.
- Paired snacks. All tastings include paired snacks. We accomodate our vegetarian and vegan friends as well as those with allergies. Anyone with food allergies must alert the organizer ahead of time.
- Access to exclusive wines. Producers sometimes send me samples that are not available to the public – it’s so much fun to try these wines.
- Door Prizes. Every event, from tastings to trips, will include one chance to win something. Who knows what it will be. Last night it was the right to control the music at the next tasting the winner attends.
Here are some things in the works:
- Outings. In the spring, summer and fall there will be day trips available. These will be for tastings and tours. I’m also working on setting up volunteer opportunities during harvest 2018.
- Professional Led Tastings. The Bennington Wine Tasting Meetup will offer tastings at fine dining establishments and production sites exclusive to its members. These may be at an additional cost to members.
- Home brewing. That’s right! We’ll have events (weekend only) where we make herbal wine and mead. These will be made with ethical practices to align with the ideology of my upcoming book.
Membership & Dues Structure
Membership is through Meetup.com (online secure payment system) and dues are $5/member/month. Upon joining there is a 30-day free trial. After that only members in good standing may attend events. Guests of members pay $5 to the organizer ahead of any event they attend. Guest payment can be made through the site (the member can pay it), electronically or in cash the evening of the event.
Dues go toward wine, food, supplies and paying the meetup membership. There is complete transparency – and if we have more money than we need dues will be frozen, or members reimbursed, until we level out again.
Some events will not be covered by dues. For example, a paired dinner at a local restaurant would be supplemented with members paying an additional fee.
All members and guests must be 21+ with proof of age (drivers’ license or non-driver state-issued ID or passport).
Our Next Event
Our next event is on February 13th at 7 pm. This horizontal tasting features two 2015 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (paired with mushroom pizza). If you’re interested in joining us, go to the Meetup page and join the Bennington Wine Tasting Meetup!