As promised, here is the second part of “Where to taste wine in Wellington” and this week I’m sharing my favourite wine clubs and wine groups with you.
There are a number of local clubs to get involved with. These are all closer to commitments rather than dalliances with wine appreciation.
Starting with the Wainuiomata Wine Club. Meeting monthly on the 2nd Wednesday of the month, with tastings a very inexpensive $10-$15. Each month’s tastings combines education and relaxed, convivial enjoyment often featuring a presentation by a New Zealand winemaker, distributor or other wine specialist.
Following similar formats you also get the Johnsonville-based Cellar Club, tasting since 1980 and also running monthly tastings on the 2nd Wednesday of the month for a nominal fee – and the Porirua Wine Society, who meet up on the 2nd Tuesday but otherwise follow a shared approach to their counterparts in Wainuiomata and Johnsonville.
As much a supper club as it is a wine club you’ll find the Tinakori Beefsteak and Burgundy Club. Meeting on the last Tuesday of the month at a different restaurant each time. Education, enjoyment and pleasant company are the key objectives of this group.
At the other end of the spectrum in both cost and seriousness you get the Magnum Society of Wellington. Founded in 1972, tasting centre on classic wine styles from around the world as well as maintaining an enviable cellar that matures young wines for future tastings. Their website gives little away – this is an exclusive bunch. Attending one of their tastings as a guest, I was able to taste through an exciting flight of six 2004 Piedmont wines for a cool $160 (and this was one of the more affordable tastings they run).
FINGER ON THE PULSE
Every year there is a rotating calendar of events showcasing the wines and regions of New Zealand that come to Wellington. Regional wine shows – like Hot Red Hawke’s Bay and the Wineworks Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc Yacht Race – all descend upon the capital, exhibition style. Your ticket price gets you a taste of the region’s wares while mixing and mingling with both other wine lovers and the winemakers who produced the wines.
To keep across when and where these are happening, two of the best resources to tap into are the Wine Jobs Online Trade Diary, and the blog of one of the city’s greatest champion of all things wine (especially #nzwine) – Raymond Chan Wine Reviews. Both can be found on Twitter as well – @winejobsonline and @winenoter respectively.
FABULOUS PEOPLE DOING THEIR THING
Under this category in terms of wine tasting and Wellington, we’ve got Wine Sentience (Facebook & Twitter) aka Stephen Wong. Originally set up as a trade-only consultancy, since 2007 it’s been a wine education resource for Wellington. The frequency of tastings is not something to set your watch by but the quality of them makes it well worth your while to know this option is out there.
And finally, there’s me, Winey Little Tastings – offering public tastings a few times a month at bars and restaurants around Wellington. Organized using the Meetup platform, event prices are kept low and topics pulled from a range of themes. Informal, educational and fun are key ingredients.
Honourable mention goes out to Match – the Wairarapa-focused (Martinborough, Masterton, Gladstone) pop-up wine bar that graces our streets during Wellington on a Plate. Their educational bent was the simplicity of wine flights, four wines set to a theme that showcased the red, the white and the unknown from the backyard of Wellington.