Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Century Mark

One of my goals in life is to live to be 100 years old. My odds of making it don't look good, as only 1 American in 10,000 has lived to be a century old. I don't think I could ride my bike in a century ride as it takes me almost half an hour to ride 6 miles to work each day. That would translate to about 10 hours of bike riding! There is one century mark that I do have hopes of completing: The Wine Century Club.

Members of this club have tried at least 100 different grape varieties. The group tries to "promote the awareness of uncommon grape varieties" defined as any grape not in the "classic grapes" (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.) The clickable picture to the left shows the top half of their application, which you can get in either PDF or Excel spreadsheet form. There are about 185 grapes listed on the form, with spaces to add any grapes they may have missed. I'm currently at grape #52, half way towards the century mark.

Seeking to become a member of this group appeals to me for several reasons:

1 - It's a fun way to learn about wine!   After all, what is wine but grape juice. Part of the fun of wine for me is learning what goes into making a wine, where it came from and what grapes it's made from. A wine doesn't have to be a single varietal to count. A Portuguese blend of Touriga, Tinto Cao and Alvarlhao would count as three grapes. (Someone please correct me if I'm wrong on this point!) Having a list and a goal helps give some direction to the general goal of learning about wine.

2 - It appeals to my desire to collect things.   I enjoy learning the history, facts and stories associated with the hobbies I get interested in. I like to have a tangible item that I can look at that reminds me of a particular facet of the hobby. Coin collecting is an obvious example of this, where I tried to find an example of each coin design for a series. In amateur astronomy, I couldn't collect stars, but I would catalog the different celestial objects as I observed them, writing down the date I saw them, a description and sometimes drawing a picture of what I saw. I don't intend to collect bottles of wine, but having the Century Wine Club's list of grapes helps me "collect" the different grapes I've tried.

3 - It is a challenge!   I probably make my life much more complicated than it needs to be. Instead of just riding my bike to work I'll see if I can beat my fastest time. Instead of just taking notes about the wines I drink, I've committed to writing a wine blog. I think one of the reasons I do this though is it makes it more fun. The pursuit of a goal and accomplishing it is a great feeling. I'm going to be trying different wines from different grapes anyway, so why not have something to show for it when I'm done?

I don't want the certificate from the Century Wine Club to my end goal in this pursuit. I want this to merely be a marker on the way to a lifetime of learning about wine and constantly trying new wines. There are almost 200 different grapes on the list. It would be cool to reach my own century mark and have tried 300 different grapes! Gary Vaynerchuk was saying the other day on Wine Library TV that you can't get to know a type of wine until you've had 20 to 40 examples of it. Now that's a goal: 20 different types of each of the 100 grapes! This could get fun.

The Wine Century Club

Here's a list of some of the 391 members current members of the Wine Century Club who have wine blogs:


Dr. Debs said...

Couldn't agree more. This isn't about the certificate--it is about learning about wine and not getting trapped in your comfort zone. I like the analogy to stamp collecting--I do feel like a kid when I get to check a box off on my form.

Alex said...

Thanks for introducing me to another list! This looks like a lot of fun and sourcing some of this wine should be truly challenging!

VinquireThea said...

What a great idea!
I have had a lot of what I thought were unusual varietals, but this is inspiring me to go beyond my fear of the old world and really experiment.

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