There really is no substitute to being a part of a friendly group of wine tasters! Not only do you come to know one another’s preferences, you are also exposed to numerous wines you might not try if left to your own devices. In addition to broadening your horizons, your close group of enthusiastic wine peers can make recommendations based on what they’ve come to learn about your palate, and you can do the same for them. What is more, and self-evident, “live” group wine tasting involves real-time contact with actual wine! Unlike one-sided online reviews, real-time conversation is dynamic with the emphasis being on the wines at hand.
Sometimes, however, finding a wine group to join can be difficult. Other times travel may prevent you from meeting as regularly with such a group as you’d like. This is where a “virtual” wine group enters! In addition to your “real life” club, internet wine communities offer valuable tips, advice, and recommendations often suited to your preferences. It’s even possible, with various apps and sites, to virtually befriend or “follow” knowledgeable online personalities with similar tastes. With literally hundreds of online wine communities at your fingertips, choosing which ones to join can be a daunting task.
While you can choose a group or site for its ordered content, it is also fun to visit a very informal, unstructured online group like the “Facebook Wine Club” for its random presentation of reviews, opinions, and info. Free to Facebook users, this group boasts to “appeal to all wine drinkers, from the seasoned pro to those who just wanna know more!! You can choose to read, discuss, add and request information on wine. Let’s discover wine together...” Featuring a random mix of wine reviews, app recommendations, info about wineries and tours, plus the "quintessential", incidental Facebook pics and spam wall posts Facebook users have come to expect, this fun page provides good fodder for casual browsing. Similar to a “real” wine group event, you never quite know what you’re going to find!
A more ordered, less unruly community can be found at WineLog.net. Here, membership is also free. You can create your own wine log, befriend members with similar tastes (without sharing your entire life story, unlike “friending” on Facebook), get custom wine recommendations, and view a host of wine blogs. There’s also a handy search feature, similar to those found on other quality wine community sites.
For a well-versed community with expertise on both wine and food pairing, check out a new site by certified sommelier Natalie MacLean. (Does that name ring a bell? We found and reviewed her handy wine app, Nat Decants, back in May.) Not only is this app still free, but so is a large portion of Natalie’s new site. Subscribers receive a regular newsletter packed with wine articles and tips, plus you can create your own profile page. Doing this lets you instantly access online community reviews (many of which are from educated wine enthusiasts), create a wine wish list, catalog your wine cellar, review wines and share them with the community, as well as devise shopping lists. Similar to WineLog.net, nataliemaclean.com showcases “featured bloggers” and contributors. With emphasis on food as well as wine, this community is a welcomed “holistic” resource for chefs and hosts. There is also a search feature on the site.
While hundreds of online wine communities abound, give these three different sites a glace over for starters to help you discover what it is you most want to find in a virtual wine community: surprise, order, convenience, conversation, food pairings, tips, etc... With that knowledge, we wish you the best of luck finding a virtual community that’s a good fit and complement to your "live" club! Cheers!