On a Church Wine Group

WineToastPeople are generally surprised when I mention that our church has a wine tasting group. Interestingly, the group is not only successful, but it also is one of the longest-running groups at the church.

I’m not sure when the group actually started, but being one of the founding organizers and prime movers, my best guess is 12-15 years ago. We are a fun and fellowship group that uses wine as the vehicle to drive the event.

The following are the basics for our group:

  • Meet 3-5 times per year
  • Volunteers offer to host the event
  • Organizers set the theme, which may be countries, regions, wine types (varietals), or something quirky as numbers, animals, or colors – and something to accommodate red and white wines
  • Attendees sign up in advance, bring a bottle of wine (per couple) within the theme and an appetizer to share

Like any organization, he had growing pains. On the other hand, because we pioneers wanted to be an official church group, we quickly adjusted. Here are some of the finer points that I have learned.

  • We went to the pastors first with our idea to get their permission
  • As attendees arrive, the host provides inexpensive starter wines
  • Using nametags is important
  • Incorporate a “program” within the event – we include a welcome, thanks to the hosts, introducing first-time attendees, a prayer, something informative about the wines/theme, and reminders about the group’s purpose
  • After the program, the remaining time is for fun and fellowship

Additional tips

  • Have a set of wine glasses for the group (they don’t have to be fancy)
  • If the wine runs out, so be it – thus the host does not supplement
  • Know the communication guidelines within the church as newsletter and weekly bulletin submission requirements and deadlines
  • Remind attendees not to fill the glass so everyone gets a chance to taste

Given our longevity, our group has been successful. During our years, I have no doubt that 400 different people attended our functions … thus I wonder how many people would I not know if it wasn’t for our church wine group.

By the way, in this past post, here’s a prayer I put together about wine, The Spirit of Wine. Plus, enjoy some of our home decor done with corks.

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64 thoughts on “On a Church Wine Group

    • Otto,
      A clarification – 400 different attendees over the life of the group. For instance, I’ve attended most of the events, but in the 400, I’m only counted once – thus many people pass through this group. Attendance at an event is usually 24-36. And yes – it’s been very successful for getting people to know one another.

  1. Wow 400 is a huge community! How many people usually come each evening? How do you make sure that early birds don’t drink all the wine so there’s nothing left for the late comers?

    I shared the information you gave us in the last wine post ie Petite sirah with my husband. He said to thank you and tell you that he also likes Petite sirah and is going to look for the wines you recommended.

    • Rosie,
      Good questions. We usually have 24-26 attendees each time – which is a manageable number. Although the start time is 7 pm, people arrive during the first 30 minutes – during which the ‘starter’ wine is served. Around 7:30, the program starts (15 minutes), and then the other bottles start to open and the fellowship begins.

      Let me know what hubby thinks of the petite sirahs I listed. … and if recommends others, let me know!

  2. What a great idea. Our church enjoys wine too but we don’t have a wine appreciation group. We meet once a month in smaller groups in homes and usually enjoy some wine with our Bible study – the two do not have to be exclusive! xx

  3. This sounds fantastic… I am behind anything that gets fellowship going within the Church… and why not a wine tasting group… after all it was drunk in biblical times… great share Frank…

    • Bulldog,
      You got the key point – it’s a fellowship group that uses wine as the vehicle for the event – which is one reason I think it’s been a success. Now if this post can just spark one other church to try this.

      • Funny you should say that… I have forwarded this to a good friend of mine, who is a Minister and is always looking for ways to encourage fellowship within his church.. I will let you know his reaction… as an alcoholic (been dry for 25 years) I would even join such a group as it could be very interesting… specially when the experts begin to discuss the wine… we had a wine tasting group that used to hire my wife’s coffee shop once a month for such an event.. I was always there and enjoyed every minute of there banter and knowledge….

        • Awesome …. I would love to know his reaction because I really believe this is a worthy methodology.

          The program part doesn’t have to be elaborate. I’m our program guy, thus change it up – thus people don’t know what to expect. I also have full reign, so I may do something with the theme or may not.

          Our next theme is Wine and Music … but my program will be about Tannin. I’ll share some info, and then we’ll taste (blindly) one high in tannin, and one not so …. preferably the same variety. (I have some go-to sales people that will guide the selections). Nothing overly technical, but practical. ,,,, thanks for sharing your story as well!

  4. Wine tastings are so fun and a great way to share a common interest and to get to know people better. I’m glad your church is so supportive of the project, Frank. We have a group of close friends who are wine connoisseurs and we get together a couple of times a year to do a tasting. Several of them are serious about their hobby and frequently travel to California on buying trips. It’s always fun to see what they bring to the mix!

  5. That sounds like a great group, Frank. In between discussing matters of faith as you sip does your group ever take on plastic corks and screw caps? I used to hate them but now I don’t mind. They’re so much easier to open.

  6. Sounds like not just great fun, but a great way to learn about the various parts of the world the wines come from.
    Then again, with some of the church services I’ve had inflicted on me, maybe you need to move the meeting to just BEFORE the services….. ;)

    • John,
      Actually, our services have been one of the reasons newcomers stick around, so we haven’t had that problem in some time … but that doesn’t mean this idea should be forgotten! Meanwhile, the group has fun and I try to do something that leads to some learning.

  7. Fantastic idea … and the art is superb. Think it’s a brilliant idea and it works .. a chance to try new and interesting wines. Do everybody have an input on witch wines you are going to try ???? I will give you two … Cloudy Bay, http://www.cloudybay.co.nz/ – not cheap but one of the best sauvignon blanc in the world – and there is a red from France … http://www.chateaubelair.net/EN/indexuk.php – neither an every day wine .. but once in a life time .. *smile

    • Viveka,
      The organizer sets the theme, and then attendees bring the wine of their choice within the theme. Most people bring bottles in the $10-20 range, but some a less and some are more … so we get quite the range! Thanks for your suggestions, and I’ll visit those links …. glad you enjoyed the corks.

    • Airport … Deborah or Debra … I can’t remember! :(

      We are a Lutheran church. Once we got the idea, we went to the pastor first … he approved and we were off and running.

  8. It’s funny . . . when I started reading this post, I was flabbergasted by the thought of a church wine group. By the time I’d finished, I’d almost forgotten my earlier incredulity. I’d love to read more about this, and also perhaps join such a group. ;)

    • Deborah,
      Thanks for sharing our your thoughts changed during the post. I wanted to write this post for a long time because I’ve mentioned this group many times. As the key founder of the group, it has always been important that the church as an organization recognizes our group … and not only did we get that from the start, we also made adjustments along the way to ensure that. And as I say in the post, fun and fellowship is our theme, and wine is the vehicle to achieve that. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

  9. Despite a strict Catholic education, I still have much respect — and hope — for Christian ethics as a step along the path of evolution. And a church which enjoys wine — what a treasure.

    • Phil,
      Welcome first-time commenter.

      Before we even publicized the first event, we went to the pastor for approval … and no problem. Interestingly, the pastoral team is different now, and the new team also embraced it. It’s not to say that we haven’t had any negative encounters, but we’ve had it work and it has been a wonderful success story about improving fellowship.

      And just so you know, our leadership also doesn’t have a problem with evolution. ;) Thanks for stopping by and hope you return.

  10. What a great idea! I wish Christians weren’t so standoffish about wine. It is so much better for one then soda. After all, it is a natural gift given to us by God, not a man made cancer causing drink that also predisposes one to kidney stones and a variety of other health conditions. Did you know that one can actually live on a high quality beer? It has everything that one needs for survival (well, not the Bud Light stuff, the Real Beer). Alcohol in moderation needs to be relieved of the scandal and libel that it doesn’t deserve.

      • HAHAHA, you haven’t been to a Baptist church! But you may be right, I don’t know, all I have ever known is the evils of alcohol. Im glad that science is proving that wine is a benefit when used with moderation. I also found out that one can actually live on high quality unfiltered beer. It has everything that one needs for survival!

        • Lorene,
          This just hit me, going back to my comment in the other post. You are correct, as a whole, Baptists aren’t in my general circle … so I have limited awareness of exposure to the statements of evils.Nonetheless, that mantra remains a minority view within Christianity.

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