During my many travels across the internet, I ran into some stuff about The Wine Society. I am well aware that there exists various wine societies and wine clubs all over the world; however, there seemed to be this one illustrious society out there. I had no idea what it really was, but imagined a group of older white men dressed in cloaks, lighting candles and chanting over a cauldron of wine (yes, even while knowing that a cauldron would be a terrible way to store or serve wine.) I thought maybe it deserved some more research to find out exactly what it was. I will share what I learned here.
The Wine Society (or by its full name, The International Exhibition Co-operative Wine Society) is the world’s oldest wine club. It was formed in 1874 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Annual International Exhibitions were held there from 1871 to 1874, and various countries had sent wine in casks to be stored and poured at the Hall. The problem was that none of the visitors knew that the wine was there, so the countries did not receive any return on their investments. After the Portuguese asked the British government for help, a series of lunches were put together to showcase the wines. After that, guests began to ask for ways to purchase the wines. Hence the beginning of the The Wine Society co-op. Over the years, famous members of the club include Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle (author of the Sherlock Holmes stories), and Alexander Fleming (discovered penicillin.)
Today, the co-op is owned by its members, and its 9 buyers purchase wines direct from growers so as to provide quality wines to members at a good price (it only trades with its members.) It costs a one time fee of about $60, and it’s a lifetime membership that can be passed on to friends and family. The club advertises hundreds of wines that are under $11.95, which I have to admit is pretty impressive. A person can be nominated for membership by an existing member, or by filling out an online form. The Wine Society then decides whether or not to formally elect the member.
All in all, an interesting wine club with an interesting history. Maybe I’ll look into joining; however, I’m not so sure they would let me in after what I said at the beginning of this post.