By Jim Boyce
I’d rather not return to this topic, given my post in December, but I wish the Beijing Wine Club would get its act together. I planned to skip last Saturday’s event, but after running into the club’s co-founder at The Rickshaw a day before and getting an SMS from someone who signed up, I decided to drop into Nearby the Tree.
The event was billed as a “tasting” of wines from “women winemakers” of the world.
To me, such an event should involve education about the wines and the people making them. Instead, what I learned came from asking the servers to produce the bottles from behind the counter so that I might check the labels and from talking to a Summergate rep.
As for the “women winemakers” theme, the angle was more like “women involved in wine.” It didn’t help that the selection was limited by the club patronizing one distributor, in this case Summergate, doubly disappointing given the recent Time Out China Wine Guide mess.
In the end, I arrived, I paid RMB150, I drank five samples, I checked the wine labels, I talked to a few people, and I left. In a city where there seems to be a monthly “100 wines for RMB100” tasting, a good weekly Friday night tasting for ~RMB100, and plenty of spots to meet friends and try wine by the glass for RMB35 and up, this event didn’t exactly ooze – or trickle, for that matter – value.
There is nothing wrong with people gathering to socialize, but here the emphasis is on “club” and “wine” is peripheral. It took me back to the wine events held by the former networking group YPHH [Young Professionals Happy Hour], though even those did more to provide a wine-centric experience.
As a consumer I hope to see more BWC events like the one held at Sequoia Café in November, which included two blind tastings, two quizzes and a barbecue for RMB220. In addition to drawing a good turnout, the event was well organized, informative, and fun.
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