“Wine Club”. It seems to me that there is hardly any other concept that could give rise to so many different associa- tions and interpretations in our wine community. However, despite the lack of tradition that would officially “codify” them, I believe that wine clubs in all their forms and expressions can seriously contribute to raising the wine culture among Bulgar- ian connoisseurs. Let's take a closer look at them:
Wine clubs can be dedicated spots such as wine bars, themed restaurants, specialized stores etc. where you can taste interesting wines. We are glad to note that such places already exist in towns other than Sofia and the big cities. Yes, they are not many, but they are there. Until recently, even in the most reputable restaurants the question, "What wine by the glass do you offer?", was answered usually by "bulk wine by the glass". And that was that.
Today, the situation is different. Things are more subtle, wine lists, and the selection and variety of themed wines, that can be enjoyed "by the glass" and which are changed each week become more common. Moreover, serving of traditional appetizers and craft cheese as accompaniment to wine is also considered more often. Yet, as this approach is still quite new, and therefore quite risky, it is crucial that these places be identified and supported by wine connoisseurs. As the saying goes, this is the case when we vote with our wallets.
Wine Club Subscription Service. This is a service that some websites and cellar e-shops have begun to offer here lately. The concept, in short, is to become a "member" of the Wine Club by choosing a certain quantity or category of wine, which will be continuously delivered to you at a discounted price. Wines are usually kept a secret and are identified only by their theme, variety or region, so when you open your wine box, you will be in for a treat.
This may sound quite commercial and unattractive, but with professional and diligent input from the consultants and traders, the members of the club would be able to derive more than financial gain. In other words, if the main idea is not to sell stale goods, but to put resources and effort into the selection of interesting and little known wineries and limited batches of wines, some of which to be accessible exclusively to club members, then the surprise in the box would really be nice. If this was the case, then each subsequent delivery would be awaited with excitement and impatience rivaling those with which, as children, we filed in long queues to get our hands on the new issue of the Pif magazine. If the latter means nothing to you, do not worry, as you have the most valuable resource: a sufficient life perspective.
Wine clubs as closed “secret” societies. Secret societies have been provoking interest for centuries with their mysterious symbols and rituals. The secret Wine Clubs inviting compari- son with Masonic Lodges are no exception. Their mysterious nature means that they usually have a limited and fixed number of members corresponding to the number of people that could taste one bottle of wine, let us say ten to twelve people. The wines tasted at their gatherings are often rare and very expensive collectible wines. The members may be invited to taste one bottle, or each of them to bring their “priceless” bottle, or to participate in thematic wine evenings hosted in turn by each of the club members.
The one thing in common is that a new member is allowed to join the club only if an old member cancels their membership. This is because of the deep personal relationships formed be- tween the members and the limiting reasons we mentioned above. But no worries. If you have formed a friendly circle of wine connoisseurs, nothing can stop you from setting up your own Wine Club and to get together often, to taste interesting wines you have discovered, to exchange ideas, impressions, and experiences. It is so sad that with our hectic schedules we have so little time for peaceful meetings and dinners with friends.
Wine clubs as communities provoked by the Word. Some wine blogs and wine media are trying to make this happen. Besides offering publications that provoke interest in wine, or people associated with wine, or causes that are valuable and fair, they insist on knowing their readers' opinions. They want to go beyond online comments and discussions and maintain interpersonal communication.
And so the Word gives rise to a Wine Club and thematic meet- ings dedicated to discussions about books and wine litera- ture, to the wine-makers mentioned in the publications, and to tasting of limited series of wines presented personally by their makers. Then the passion for wine trips is born, the Let's go and see motto. Go and see the nature, the vineyards, the people, the wine cellar, go and taste the wine directly from the barrels, envision its developing complexity after a month, a year, or two ... And last but not least, go and get in touch with the authentic traditions, and meditate on your personal actions (or inactions) that could contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable world. "You may say I'm a dreamer ..." but who connoisseur of wine is not?
Nikolay Paunov, The Wine Inside