A few months ago, one of the wine bloggers that I follow posted some information about the Wine Century Club. The Wine Century Club, if you are not familiar, is a designation reserved for those people who have tasted at least 100 different types of grapes in wine. There are 500-600 grape varieties used in wine-making world-wide, so it seems a reasonable goal to have tried approximately 20 percent of the grapes used.
So I checked out this website – if you have sampled at least 100 different types of grapes, you can fill out the application form and send away for your very own Wine Century Club certificate! Is this the grown-up version of the Inspector Gadget Sleuth club that you could join after mailing away the back section of your cereal box? I don’t know, but it sounded intriguing!
I printed out the list of grapes, and checked off all the grapes that I know I have tried. Some of my blog posts were very helpful in supplementing my memory! It turns out I have tried 58. And with all the grapes that are still out there, it surely can’t be too difficult to get up to the 100 mark! So I decided to have a Wine Century Club Party.
I tend to be more “wine-adventurous” than most of my friends, so I made a list of all the grapes I have not yet tried so guests would know which wines to bring. Yes, I realize that this is a bit self-serving, but I figure that if I haven’t tried it, neither have my friends, and you can have a Mourvèdre or a Carignan any old time! I was pretty surprised at how many grapes are out there that I have never even heard of – who knew there was a grape called Alfrocheiro? Or Furmint!? Although to be honest, if I got to name a new grape, I certainly wouldn’t call it Furmint! How about Hárslevelü? Anybody heard of that one?
I scoured a few of the local wine stores to give guests an idea of where they could get wines containing unusual grapes – it was quite a process with a lot of label reading, and puzzling over French and Italian labels to determine whether a word referred to the region or the grape (usually the region). I learned that some importers are much better than others with labeling the grapes that the wine contains. And I learned there are an awful lot of different names for the exact same grape! And sometimes the same name refers to more than one type of grape, depending on which country the wine is from. Confusing!
But in the end, I was able to find more than 30 different wines with about 20 different unusual grapes in wines with reasonable prices, so people have some options! The wines don’t have to be single varietal, so that makes it a bit easier… And I hope that everybody enjoys the challenge!
At the party I plan to have copies of the grape list available so people can see how close they come to Wine Century Club membership. I will let you know how many I get to try!