Thank you very much for your kind remarks to last Sunday’s post. I was a bit surprised that not that many people seemed to know about the Wine Century Club, something that I have obsessed about for a good year now…but before that, I also had no clue. Let me tell you a bit more about it.
The Wine Century Club is an honors-system based club. The sole goal of the club is to encourage people to think outside of the box when buying or ordering wine. The “century” in the name refers to 100. You can only become a member, once you have tried 100 different grape varieties in wine. Membership is free and all it takes is mailing in a form (which you can find here), on which you ticked off the grapes you have had. It is optional to provide the names of the wines you had the grapes in.
The Club was started and is currently headed by Steve and Deborah DeLong, who also publish great accessories to wines on their own website (the tasting sheets I use are from that website). The Club states it has roughly 1,250 members and they come from all over the world. There are now local chapters which meet to experience new wines and new grape varieties. From its website, the Club does not look overly active, but trust me, last year’s version was quite out of date. So there are definitely things happening.
And now to my own experience with going through the hoops. March of last year, I decided to give Nina an application for her birthday and promise her to take this journey together. We initially ticked off a number of grapes that we had in Germany and that I knew I had in the past, but that only got us to 30 or 40 or so. It really is much more difficult to reach the 100 than you imagine. There are definitely ways of shortening that: Anatoli over at Talk-a-vino reported of a wine that had over 100 different varieties in it. According to the rules, this would get you over the top with just one sip!! (Yes, blends count!). If you remember, the wine that got me over also was a blend of almost ten different varieties that are virtually non-existent anywhere.
But there we were: We had had some crazier grapes like Kerner or Scheurebe or Silvaner or Johanniter or Ortega or Cabernet Cubin or Cabernet Mitos or Dornfelder (ah, the bliss of living in Germany!), but we still were quite a bit away from the magic number. And that is were the fun started. We realized after a few months that when we went wine shopping, we expanded our horizons by actively searching out wines that were made with grapes that we had not tried yet. It became something of a hunt, and a good hunt it was. We tried a lot of new wines, some good, some not so much. Initially, it only mattered to tick off that box. But then, gradually, we became aware of how much more exciting, more fun, and more educational it is to try these grapes that no one ever heard of. It made us more aware of why we like some grapes, and it helped us understand what does not work for each of us in other grapes. By trying more variety, we experienced a greater appreciation for the world of wine. There is so much more out there!!
I don’t want to over-hype this, but it was so much fun. And it was so good to have started this. We all know how we can get stuck in our own wine ways, be it Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon or Riesling. We are all creatures of habit, reaching for what we know when we cannot make up our mind. The Wine Century Club encouraged us to reach for the other bottle, for the new variety, for an adventure…and it was so worth the ride.
It has taken us about a year (Nina is still three grape varieties shy of the 100 mark, but we have three wines here that will get her over the top). There was no need to rush anything. We have decided to stay on the journey that has given us so much pleasure. We’ll keep our lists, and we’ll keep expanding it. Because once you’ve started looking around, it is hard to stop.
This was our journey. Why don’t you begin your own quest to join the club today? I am looking forward to you sharing your journey!!