Joining a club is sort of like joining a gym only you don’t have to drink wine every single day to feel like you’re getting your moneys worth. Or maybe it’s not like joining a gym at all but just an excuse to feel extra special. And these days there aint no half steppin’ when it comes to committing to a wine club. If you dig all the wines from a certain producer than more then likely you’ll dig the club. Ya dig?

The Yum Factor:
Typically if you ask someone why they join a club most of them will tell you they join because they like all the wines made by a particular producer. It tastes good. It’s just that simple. The perks are just extra fun like a fortune cookie at the end of a meal. Perks: exclusivity, free stuff, discounts, insider tips, feel special, one of the family, takes the guess-work out, special offers, promotions, ego strokes, choice barrels, club-designated lots and the floss-factor i.e. looking good to your friends.

There are so many variations on the club: winery-direct, online clubs, public radio clubs, university clubs, mailing lists only, club-by-varietals, club-by-region, wines-by-price clubs, club-clubs…and so on and so-forth. In every case, exclusivity and convenience diverge. But don’t be afraid to question the one trying to sell you on a particular club since there are lots of “wine educators” that simply don’t know what they are talking about. They fill the air with effusive language and hope you’ll get high enough to believe the hype. Don’t believe the hype! An artful clubber does their own research and educates themselves. Or more directly put: I like this; please send me some. Porch prizes rule!

Deriving inspiration from the late-great Del Close’s, How to Speak Hip (Mercury Records,) here’s a timeless hipster’s how-to guide to being a wine clubber.

Basic Sip:
To Dig. I dig it. To like. I Understand. To appreciate. The Yum factor. If you like it then do the damn thing!

Vocabulary Building:

Create your very own phraseology of wine. Learn what buzz words to stay aware from (beware of marketing phrases.) Create your own vocabulary because um, that’s hip! This wine smells like wind chimes or this is a wine best drunk in large gulps before a board meeting, or this taste sick (either good or bad depending upon the context,) or now there’s a caterpillar on my tongue, or this wine makes me feel extra sippy-like.

Loose Wig:
By all means, don’t be afraid to say one thing but mean the opposite. This wine is sick, crazy, nutty, hot, way-out or insane. This wine swings, baby!

The Riff:
Spoken counterpoint to the riff. Example: “This wine is freakin’ nutz!” Wine is a delicious excuse to fill your glass with something you enjoy and want to share with others (and it also gives you a nice buzz.) To properly club is to embellish a little. “This wine is lip-smacktacular!”

The Hang up:
All purpose excuse. Discourages further inquiries. I’m not into it. It’s okay not to like a wine. And don’t be afraid to express your opinion about a wine; it’s your mouth and no means no.

Put On, Put Down, Come On, Come Down, Bring Down:

Wine-speak often uses distinctly different meanings while sounding the same. Two words: tasting notes. Read my previous article. I mean, how can so many wines be described in the same way? Flip the script, ya’ll? People just want a yummy taste in their mouth. Join a club that gives you straight-talk and doesn’t try to blind you with the megalomania of wine-verbage.

If a hipster says it, it’s a hipster word. Dig it! It’s your groove, baby.

Here, the rules are rigid: don’t associate with uncool people and, by all means, protect your state of mind. Be cool. Be reasonable with yourself and others and this goes for clubbin’ and otherwise.

Don’t do these things in a tasting room:
1) Talk about Sideways. It’s straight up lame and no one, especially the Tasting Room Associate, wants to tell you how the movie has influenced sales. Straight up: pinot up & merlot down. We’re over it.
2) Offer to drink the dump-bucket. It’s not funny.
3) Pour wine in your glass when the associate is not looking.
4) Say, “this must be a really great job.”
5) Tease about large format bottles.
6) Repeat “bunghole” more than once in an attempt to get a laugh.

Field Trip:
Get out there and explore, either online or take a day trip to a wine country near you, and get your sip on. Clubbing is all about finding your people, your community; you’d be surprised to find that wine-speak is diversifying and the language used to talk about wine is changing. And don’t be afraid to flip it cuz that’s straight-up hip. Holla back now!

I offer only these words of wisdom: drink only yummy juice; club it when it feels right.

And a very special thanks for the inspiration! How to Speak Hip was a comedy album by Del Close and John Brent, released by Mercury Records in 1959.


This article is part on an ongoing series by Katrina Plam titled "Da Vine Words: Changing the Way We Speak About Wine".