A wine club for people who are willing to
try any kind of grape—what a concept! It’s The Wine Century. Quite simply, the Wine Century is a club that is open to anybody who has tried wines made from at least 100 different grapes, whether as a pure varietal or in a blend. This is no small feat, but it is definitely feasible. We’ve all had our share of Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons, Syrahs and Sauvignon Blancs, but how many of us have raised a glass with Harslevelu, Cserzegi Fuszeres, or Bual, just to name a few? If you’ve been adventuresome with wine, or if you’ve travelled near and far, you might be surprised at how many you have tried.

If you go to the Wine Century Club website, you’ll be able to read all about the club and the things they do; and, you will also find a list of maybe 120 grapes. I printed off the list earlier this month not really thinking I would have more than 50; but out of curiosity, I checked off a number of grapes from the list. I also penciled in a few in the blank spots given at the bottom of the sheet. Running down the list I found myself recounting some of my travels, tasting seyval blanc and viognier in Yadkin Valley, North Carolina, sipping many things western and central Europe have to offer, and a trying Norton and Chambourcin while tooling around my own backyard of Northern Virginia.

There were a few grapes I couldn’t be absolutely sure that I had tasted. Reading the list, I was fairly positive I have had carignan and carmenere, but where? I probably had dornfelder during my two and a half years in Germany, either as Federweisser or as finished wine. Sure, I can recall a lot of the wines I’ve enjoyed over the years, but alas, I don’t stack up to some wine critics who say they can recall every wine to have passed their lips. On the club application, there is a little note stating that this is all on an honor code, and should we fudge a bit, the wrath of Bacchus will curse our palates. So of course I waited to check off the questionable ones like Carignan until later. By the way, a Sardinian blend of Carignan and Syrah is pretty tasty!

After the first count, I was up to 65 or so. After pouring over old tasting notes, and even doing a little searching on a wine label that I brought back from Bosnia, the picture was looking even better. Since then, I’ve been sampling the wines for our weekend tastings at the store, and Lynne and I have been doing a little homework for our honeymoon to Portugal by trying various Portuguese wines. I’m now at 110 grapes, and she is at 61.

I think any true wine lover can get to 100 grapes. The easy part is getting past 50, especially if you like Italian wines. The tough part is finding the less ubiquitous grapes such as Seyval Blanc, Niagara, or Agiorgitiko. For some of these, though, you really don’t have to go too far off the beaten path anymore. In the U.S., there’s a wealth of vineyards in many of the states like Virginia, New York, Ohio, and even a few in Tennessee. So, take a Saturday or Sunday, and see what your state has to offer. Alabama or North Dakota might be a different story, but go see what your local wine store has to offer during regular tastings, and enjoy the tasting delights. A lot of wine stores send out a newsletter of some sort, so you can see what’s coming up over the next week. Depending on your location, you might have to do a little digging around. You might try searching for a wine blogger in your region. Some of them have a weekly line-up of tastings and other wine-related events.

To help in finding wineries and tastings in your area, Check out some of blogs and sites.

D.C. area readers can check out Wannabe Wino for occasional local tasting previews. From time to time she also posts a Touring Tuesday, where she highlights some local wineries.

Dr. Vino has wine maps for wine stores in NY City, Chicago, LA, and Paris.

Check out Lenndevours for a wealth of knowledge on New York State wineries.

You can find California wine maps over at Vine Sugar.

Michelle over at My Wine Education has a variety of area wine maps the Cincinnati region of Ohio.

Wine Searcher is a great tool for finding wines, though the free part of the site is slightly limited.

And finally, check Local Wine Events for wine events in your local area.


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