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Ageing well

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The Grapes Wine Society will mark its 30th anniversary in 2024. Meeting in Aldersbrook, the club is keen to expand its membership and welcomes novices and sommeliers alike. David Rowley reports

Grapes Wine Society is a friendly club that meets regularly to learn about, discuss and, of course, taste wine. The meetings are a sociable way to spend an evening.

The usual format of the evening starts with a chat and a glass of wine. Then, one of the members will present a selection of wines on a theme of their choosing. That might be a particular grape variety, a country recently visited, a style the member has researched or a brand they would like to explore. There are usually six wines to taste, starting with white, occasionally rosé, and ending with red. The red wines are paired with bread and cheese. At the end of the presentation, we vote for our favourite white and red and overall winner.

Members of the club pay a small annual fee to cover rent and other expenses. Then, a fee is paid for every meeting they attend – this pays for the wine and food. Members are welcome to bring guests to the meetings.

Throughout the year, there are several special events, such as an anniversary dinner, a barbecue and a fine wine evening. Occasionally, there are also outings to English vineyards. These special events are especially popular with the families and friends of members.

The club was founded in 1994 as an extension to wine-tasting classes held at Gearies, part of the Redbridge Institute of Adult Education. The fortnightly meetings originally took place in Ilford, but have recently moved to St Gabriel’s Church hall on Park Road in Aldersbrook. Meetings take place fortnightly.

One of the main advantages of a wine appreciation club is that it gives you an opportunity to taste lots of different wines. Many people have a favourite wine and will often buy this time and again. Some people believe they don’t like red wine or won’t drink Chardonnay. They don’t experiment because they do not want to waste their money on a wine they may not like. But a wine club lets you sample a wide variety of wines. That may be wines from a country with unfamiliar grape varieties; wines from a shop or retailer you don’t normally visit; or wines that are more expensive than your usual budget. By joining a wine club, you get to try before you buy. And you might just discover a new favourite.

As the club approaches its 30th anniversary, we are looking to recruit new members. If you would like to expand your wine horizons and make new friends, the club would be delighted to hear from you. We welcome novices to sommeliers!


The Grapes Wine Society meets on alternate Tuesday evenings from 7.30pm at St Gabriel’s Church hall in Aldersbrook. For more information, email grapeswinesoc@gmail.com