I currently belong to two wine clubs and just spent a very large part of my morning debating if I should join another. I joined the wine clubs before I began my blogs. I wanted to try new wines and figured the clubs would be the best way to get great selections. I still believe it is a fantastic way for a newbie to try wines. But I don't think it's the best way to learn about wine.
Just the other day I went into my local wine store looking for some local wine. After browsing for awhile and picking up a bottle off my shopping list, I asked the sales clerk if he had a Viognier. I had read some reviews of local wineries and their Viognier and I wanted to try it. He did point me toward a Viognier blend and then we began talking wine. From this very knowledgeable sales clerk, I was quickly given a lesson in wine. He explained tannins and some other wine lingo (a very definite future post) and asked me a lot of questions about what I like and why I liked it. From that, he said what I was holding was great and he'd keep an eye out for some new things for me.
When you are first learning about wine and what you like versus what you don't like, reading reviews, blogs and tasting are all important. But what is vital to the learning process is to have a conversation. I know I posted a teasing post the other day about "experts", but those experts do serve a purpose. I also understand it can be intimidating to ask someone. I know I was. Yet, I am so happy I did. I can't wait to go back, pick up something from my list and whatever my new wine "expert" suggests. While you may get great deals and superb wines from a club, nothing beats face to face interactions with quality people.
If you ever find yourself in Maryland, stop by JP's Fine Wine & Spirits. They are helpful, friendly and extremely knowledgeable. Not only will you be able to pick up a powerball ticket, you will also receive some great wine advice.