So we wound up joining a local wine-tasting club last spring.
The way it works is: You’re told a variety to bring. You bring two bottles of the same wine, in a plain brown bag, and it’s labeled with a number. Everyone else does the same.
You try a bit of each one, and rate it. At the end, the votes are tallied, and ranked.
The winner gets to name the variety for the next get-together. The loser has to host the next one.
So we managed to lose last spring, and hosted in the summer (and were glad, because THAT time the variety was chocolate wine, and I found those universally vile). Hadn’t been to one since then partly because the next variety was a barbera, we tried a couple different bottles beforehand, and hated them all.
So last night, we somehow won - the variety was pinot noir, 15 dollars a bottle or less. We tried 4 different brands beforehand and only found 1 tolerable, so we brought that.
We can specify a variety, a region, or whatever. It has to be something that there’s sufficient variety to have enough choices for different brands. It has to be something affordable - nothing where you need to go 20-30-40 bucks a bottle (which made the pinot a challenge; hard to find something drinkable in that range).
One of the club’s organizers, who is very knowledgeable on wines and loves trying different things, caught me at the end and was really really pushing for us to select a Spanish ropa (? roja?) as that’s one the club hasn’t done yet. Yeah, fine, but guess what: WE won. She can choose the next time THEY win (which is reasonably frequent, I gather). (this is the whine portion of the post)
I’m waiting to hear back on others they’ve done in the past couple years. I know only the ones in the past 10 or so months: Shiraz / syrah, rosé, barbera, chocolate…