Some months ago, I asked members of the community a question about what advice they would give to new Society members who were just joining.
If you were to think back to when you first joined, compared with what you know now, what is the piece of advice you wish had been given then that would have made your life easier?
What piece of advice would you pass on to new members?
I’ve now teamed up with Jo Goodman (@Jo4Wine), Editor of the Society Newsletter, who got the broader views of members through the newsletter.
I’ve republished some of the excellent responses we got via email and letter from members below, but I would also be very interested in your views, whether you’ve been a member for 10 years or 10 days.
It took me some time before I realised the value of the hive mind of the Society’s members. I am not referring to the tasting comments of individual members but to the list issued during the summer of the members most popular purchases. This list reflects the preference of a very large number of people who care about the wine they drink. It should be a useful pointer to achieving a high success rate when selecting wine and it is. I have purchased pleasing wines this way that I would not have chosen from the society’s list because of one obscure personal bias or another. (D. Brander)
On my very occasional visits to Stevenage I have always made sure to pick up some wooden wine boxes - leaving a suitable donation, of course.!
These have proved to have a myriad of uses over the years.
Here are just a few ;
- A hop-up for my granddaughter to reach the washbasin for her ablutions. Also a boat , doll,s bed or plane for playtime.
- Useful decorative storage for numerous small items in the house & workshop.
- With a few holes in the bottom they make good seed & herb trays.
- When the time comes they make excellent kindling.
I’m not saying it’s worth the price of membership, but it has proved a bonus. (K. Mogridge)
I have two suggestions for getting the best out of The Wine Society. First, join as soon as you can. Second, remember the quality of English wines, we were taught by the masters - The Romans. They taught the French on the way here, whatever the French may say now. (H. Quick)
- That some wines are not in the main list, so fine wine list needs to be requested.
- How to get on list for en primeur offers.
- How to contact customer service by email (rather than online form)
Here is my insight for new members:
Unless you have left it late to order your wine, always opt for the Society delivery van.
Why? Two reasons; one prosaic the other quite the opposite.
Firstly I have never had a damaged delivery when I have opted for the Society’s own delivery van. Why spend money to slowly and carefully mature an en-primeur wine in a quiet, dark, and temperature-controlled environment… and then have it thoroughly shaken and slung around in a courier’s van that’s racing to keep up with the schedule. Sometimes I am tempted to order the wonderful but almost explosive Cidre Bouche de Normandie and get it delivered by the courier just to see the inside of his van after delivery!
Secondly, and much more important, take time to talk to the Society driver. I first met our driver at 07:30 in the morning. As he handed over the (undamaged) boxes, he commented on the contents most of which he knew first hand and recommended some alternatives to try if I liked what I had ordered. Since that first delivery, I’ve tried those recommendations and they have been that good that I look forward to the wine tutorial on the doorstep. Just don’t keep him too long - we don’t want him rushing to his next delivery! (K. Busch Hansen)
I’ve been a member since 1997 (I think), just when the internet was starting to flourish and making researching wine purchasing and the purchasing itself so much easier.
The Society was a revelation to me and I joined on the recommendation of a friend and I’ve never looked back.
I can say with hand on heart since 1999 I have not bought a single bottle of wine (in the UK obviously) anywhere other than from The Wine Society. I am always the butt of jokes when we have people round or when we go out for a meal to friends as to which Society bottles will be on offer. They may laugh but I’ve never heard them complain!
So two things I wish I’d known back in 1997:
trust the Society brand - if you want a decent bottle of wine, at any price, for any occasion, then anything with the Society brand on it is going to be more than adequate. Whether it is the simple but delicious French Full Red or one of the more expensive Exhibition bottles, you cannot go wrong. If you don’t know anything about wine then buy the Society brands.
if you can afford it, put a set amount away into your Society account every month so when it comes to buying time - usually twice a year for me - then it almost feels as if it is free.
About a year ago I visited the best restaurant in Sorrento where the waiter recommended a ‘Janare’ White Wine, very reasonably priced/went down well with Fish. When I returned I saw Wine Soc already sell it, brilliant/excellent price and I’ve bought it many times ! Furthermore, I visited Sicily the year before and emailed Sebastian Payne about two excellent wines (of many!) I’d tried there, I see now Wine Soc sells a Sicilian Reserve Red at a good price and has increased it’s Sicilian range in general, some of which I’ve bought. Wow these guys really do listen !
So if you find wines on your travels it’s highly likely Wine Soc may already stock them or will have excellent alternatives anyway. Therefore if you’re a ‘Wine Lover’ you’ve arrived safely at your destination ! (S. Lindsay-Watson)
So, what might you add to this list (other than “Join the Community as soon as possible”, of course)?