Organising a ‘Bring Your Own’ Tasting


Apart from relieving the committee of the need to find a speaker, or source all the wines, a Bring Your Own tasting can encourage your members to learn more about wine. Unfortunately, there is still some organising to do.

If you just announce that a meeting will be ‘Bring Your Own’ and leave it up to members to decide what to bring, you are likely to end up with far too many single bottles of indifferent wine. A typical club might show 2 bottles each of 8-10 wines to 30 members. If everyone brings their own, you could end up with 30 different wines, some in half bottles. This would make pouring difficult, and lead to a very long evening.

It is better to appoint an organiser for the event, with the power of veto. Unless you want a bottle a head, that will mean some people bringing wine (possibly two or more bottles) and others not doing so. You will need to charge a fee and cover the expenses of those bringing wine.

It is worth having a theme. It might be a particular style or area, or ‘my favourite wine between £8 and £10’. Unless your members have good cellars, you must expect that they will bring wines that are commonly available, from local supermarkets or merchants. The chances of two people bringing the same wine can be quite high, so the organiser must know in advance what people are going to buy, and be prepared to ask for changes. You can use the ‘Bring a Bottle’ tasting to educate your members if you select the less knowledgeable ones to source and research the wines. The organiser can help by indicating sources of information (books, websites etc) and wine.

You have a choice between a presented tasting and a blind tasting. For the former, you should have each wine presented by different people (although not necessarily the ones that bought them). The organiser will be able to produce a wine list ahead of the meeting.

Blind tasting should be fun, and members shouldn’t be made to feel ignorant. The organiser should leave the rest of the committee in ignorance about the wines to be shown, so everyone is on the same footing. The ‘owner’ of the wine should give clues about what it is. You might want to ask members to write down their guesses about grape and country (for example), with small prizes for the best and worst. Alternatively, just discuss the wines and try to come to a consensus before the ‘owner’ tells you what it is and why it was chosen. Wine lists should be provided at the end of the evening.