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Starting a wine-tasting club is one of the most enjoyable and least intimidating ways to learn about wine. Tasting clubs are easy to create — simply find a few friends interested in wine and get together on a regular basis (usually once a month). Following are a few suggestions for starting a club.

Choose friends with similar goals for the wine club. An ideal size is 8 to 10 people.

Each meeting should be built around a theme. In the beginning, it’s helpful to choose wines with something in common for comparison: for example, specific grape varieties, wine regions or styles. After the club gets going the ideas are limitless. Topics could include a grape variety grown in a warm climate versus a cold climate, wines under $15 or comparing 1-, 5-, 10- and 20-year-old wines.

For setup, you will need a wine glass for each wine being tasted, a dump bucket for discarding wine before the next pour or spitting out, pen and paper for notes and a pitcher of water, plain bread or crackers to clean your palate between wines. To better observe the color of wines use a white tablecloth for a background, and if possible, set up at a large table in a room with good lighting.

For each tasting, pour each guest 2 to 3 ounces. Taste white wines before red and dry whites before sweet, and reds from light to full-bodied. Discussing the wine is the key in building your wine vocabulary, knowledge and confidence. Take notes on color, aromas and flavors, finding similarities and differences in the wines. Above all, have fun and enjoy!

For more ideas, check out:

  • Ultimate Wine Tasting Kit by Wine Spectator includes Harvey Steiman’s Essentials of Wine, Wine Spectator’s Pocket Guide to Wine, Quick Guide to Wine Tasting, bottle bags, tasting checklists, stemware tags, corkscrew.
  • The Wine Tasting Party Kit: Everything You Need to Host a Fun and Easy Wine Tasting Party by St. Pierre includes wine bottle covers, tasting score pads, a cheat sheet, glass markers, and a 64-page illustrated book.
  • The Wine Club: A Month by-Month Guide to Learning About Wine With Friends by Maureen Christian Petrosky.
  • The Wine Enthusiast Essential Wine Tasting Kit includes Wine Enthusiast Magazine Pocket Guide to Wine plus 2006 Vintage Chart, two tasting checklist notepads, six bottle bags, six bottle stoppers, 24 bottle tags, a blank wine journal and two wine label removers.
  • Winerd, wine trivia and tasting game.