The inaugural session of the Blackrock Castle Wine Club was extremely well attended. We hadn't thought for a minute that the numbers would get into the sixties, given the general belt-tightening of recent months. There had been healthy sales of online subscriptions, and a fair few reservations of the please-keep-a-seat-for-me kind by telephone, e-mail and twitter; but very many people turned up to pay on the door, and I'm afraid that at a certain point (as we approached standing room only) we had to explain that we simply couldn't admit anyone else.
The little refrain I tend to murmur to our customers is that last year's uncertainties about money led more and more people to cook and eat at home, with consequences beneficial to anyone thinking of starting a wine club:
• people tried out a few new recipes, often cooking from scratch;
• the pleasures and perils of inviting friends to dine were given new exposure;
• the value of wine recommended by your friendly, local &c. merchant vs glumly shopping by price on a restaurant list was rediscovered and discussed;
• and a common sense of adventure combined with Tigerish competitive urges in shopping and in cooking.
Suddenly, spending time in other people's company while getting the low-down on how to pick a winner from the wine shelves, not to mention the satisfaction of a little gentle learning for its own sake, seemed like a fun thing to do. Six generous tastes of different champagnes for €20 (€25 if you paid on the door) is a good deal in itself, I'd have thought.
But, still and all, we were astonished at the reponse to our new venture. As usual, some of those present had their accounts of the evening published almost before we'd finished saying goodnight to everyone. Thank you very much for speedy publication, Brian Clayton, who couldn't resist remarking upon
...some videos that appear to have been produced in the 70s by the Champagne tourist board.
They were long on style (more realistically 70’s porno chic) and a little short on facts.
You can read the rest of Brian's post here.
Elke O'Mahony of Cork's Dine and Wine Club, who also almost instantaneously reviewed each of the wines tasted on her blog, will be choosing her champagne with new confidence from now on:
Billy's knowledge of the wine makers, procedures and wine industry is amazing and we learned a lot at the night...
I've already received one or two pieces of constructive criticism from other people present, so we're thinking about the best way to make sure that:
• everyone can hear what's being said;
• everyone tastes each wine while it's being introduced and discussed;
• if necessary, and with as much notice as possible, we limit numbers fairly.
If you were with us on Thursday, and have some suggestions to make, this is the place to do it. Alternatively, send us an e-mail and I'll add your ideas to the blend already in the fermentation tank.
In the meantime, we're looking forward to the next tasting on February 25th, which will introduce some wines from the Languedoc in southern France.
I thought it would be helpful to sell temporary membership - one meeting's worth - in advance, so you can book your place at the February tasting @ €25 here.
If , however, you'd like to sign up for the remaining nine sessions of our 2010 season, you can do so here @ €180.