The very idea of a wine club conjures up images of pinstripe suited, self-important men sat around discussing the degrees of astringency and using all manner of complicated lingo that makes the rest of us feel like we should probably stick to chugging down Lambrini with the girls of a Saturday night. We just wanna have fun right?
As a self-confessed lover of wine you would think that over the years I would have developed some fairly basic knowledge during my long career as a wino? Sadly though, my palette has rarely extended beyond a bottle of bargain bin Blossom Hill or whatever the reduced wine in Aldi is during the weekly shop.
Imagine therefore my anxiety when invited to the Wineways ‘Pop up Wine club’ in Cardiff one Saturday evening. How on earth could I go to a wine club? The proper grown ups there would suss an ammeter me out immediately, they would take one look at my confused little face and know instantly that I once drank wine out of a bag in Australia whilst performing a stirring rendition of ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’. I did not belong here.
Luckily for me Wineways is the ‘grape child’ of Lloyd Beedell, a Sommelier who understands that a wine club should be accessible to all and fun, not just confined to stuffy wine experts comparing tasting notes of outrageously expensive wine.
Lloyd has worked in wine led restaurants around the UK and previously worked as a Sommelier at the Park House. After many years of attending tastings he noticed that there was an opening in the Cardiff scene for a new kind of wine club, where anyone and everyone is welcome to come and learn more about wine.
Lloyd explained that Wineways isn’t your average pompous wine club, “Wineways is about having fun, meeting like-minded people who are keen to expand their knowledge whilst drinking some awesome juice, not by reading books or tasting notes written by wine critics about a bottle of wine that costs 3 figures and is as rare as rocking horse shite!”
This sounded like the exactly kind of club I wanted to be in. Maybe there would be a club motto, or perhaps we might all pledge allegiance to Cabernet Sauvignon? Either way I was very excited. Wineways hosts monthly pop up events in venues across Cardiff, so husband Luke and I went along one to one of their recent wine club events, a Young Punks Vs Charles Smith Wines ‘wine off’ in classy wine joint Artigiano.
I was surprised by the diverse age range of the wine club guests, there were many people our age and everyone seemed really relaxed and friendly, certainly not the pompous wine snobs one might expect at a wine tasting, ‘I say Giles this red is extremely fruit-forward old bean’. The guests ranged in knowledge and wine preference but our common bond was that we all appeared to love a glass of vino and this is surely how the best friendships are formed?
As cheese and meat platters came out, we drank, we considered, we rated and we enjoyed a range of wines from Australian wine makers ‘Some Young Punks’ and award winning American wine ‘Charles Smith Wines’. Pitting wineries against each other is certainly a fun way of tasting new wines and I have now perfected my ‘wine consideration’ face. As the wine flowed I found the boundaries of social norms fading and so I would like to apologise to the lady whose arm I held onto whilst I emphatically explained how Stevie Nicks was an icon of women and should be worshipped as the celestial being she clearly is.
My favourite wine of the evening was the Some Young Punks wine ‘Naked On Roller Skates’. This cheekily named wine has a palate that is dense with black fruits, a little quince and juniper spice, I am reliably formed. My thoughts were mostly that it went bloody well with the cheese board. I’m not quite at ‘expert wine taster’ level yet to be fair.
We enjoyed that bottle so much that I ordered a bottle afterwards for Luke, as he managed to go the entire evening without performing a single Christopher Walken impression to the other guests and Cosmo states that good husband behaviour must be rewarded. The best part of Wineways events is that price wise the wines are accessible, should you wish to order in a bottle or two and not have a mini stroke at the cost.
I recommend anyone who enjoys a glass or two of the good stuff comes along to a Wineways event. It’s a really relaxed and informal way of learning about wine and discovering new and quirky wine makers you may have never have found otherwise. I like to thing there’s a long way to go in developing this girl’s palette, old habits die hard you see and I still find myself reaching for the Asda’s own brand Chardonnay.
Their next event is an Argentinian Masterclass with Casarena Wines, at Milk and Sugar on June 24th at 7pm. This pop up event features their first guest speaker, Noel Reid, the head buyer & Winemaker at Robinsons Wines who are the sole importer of the multi award winning Casarena Wines. I for one shall be there, eager to learn more about wineries in the hope of impressing people at dinner parties with my newly learned wine chat, pretending to be a proper adult.