The Wine Curmudgeon has finally found a practical use for his fascination with obscure and little known wine grapes. It's called the Wine Century Club, and membership is open to anyone who has tasted 100 different grape varieties.
This is not as easy to do as it sounds. The group's literature notes that a well-regarded sommelier managed only 82 grapes, and I had to make an effort to come up with the 105 that I submitted And I've tasted frontenac and sauvignon gris -- to say nothing of spending 25 years drinking U.S. and European regional wine. On the other hand, some members have reached the 200-, 300-, and even 400-grape level (which makes me wonder if their social lives are even less interesting than mine).
The goal of the group, of course, is honorable: That quality wine exists that is made from grapes that aren't cabernet sauvignon, merlot and chardonnay. It's not about wine geekiness, but about exploring wine. In this, it is the exact opposite of the forces that propel the modern wine business, whose goal is to get everyone to to drink the same thing.
Membership is free and open to anyone who can fill out the form. Click through on the Web site to find it, mark off grapes, and email it back. You'll get a certificate in a couple of weeks. Membership is on the honor system, and reminds me of bird watching (which I've read about but never done). One keeps one's list handy, and then crosses off a ruby throated hummingbird or a blanc du bois.
Can I reach 200? Probably not, but it will be fun to try.