Written by Miranda Durr
Artwork by Cindy Nguyen
Do you find yourself craving a deeper understanding of wine, searching for a community of other passionate individuals who love this ancient beverage? If so, you may be interested in Entirely Wine, a virtual book club dedicated to wine education. To join, simply sign up, purchase the book and catch meetings online, held every six weeks.
The inspiration to create the book club came to me while attending the inaugural International Winemakers Summit (IWS) hosted by Urban Connoisseurs in partnership with Uncorked and Cultured, a virtual event where attendees could meet and learn about winemakers of African descent. In this forum, there was no need for icebreakers; the atmosphere was amiable, and I found the best part of the summit to be the amount of energy in the live chat. With great questions from the audience and even better answers from a panel of winemakers, I found the panel members consistently recommending different books with more in-depth explanations for the curious among us.
The level of engagement at the event gave me the push I needed to start a learning community focused entirely on wine. I realized most of the attendees already had a passion for wine, but many of my friends and family don’t really know much, beyond “This I like!” or “No, not for me”, and the all-too-common refrain, “You pick”.
Feeling inspired by these winemakers, certified sommeliers, and industry professionals, I decided to start a book club focusing on people coming together to learn more about the real reasons why wine tastes the way it does.
When ten people from the audience signed up to read a book together and forge a conversation around wine, I knew this would be an opportunity to amplify storytelling and diverse voices from this corner of the wine community – here, and now.
Entirely Wine is aimed at fostering diversity and inclusion for all; for BIPOC and allies interested in wine appreciation and knowledge. The movement towards supporting the BIPOC community is achieved via a curated reading list, promoting writers from underrepresented backgrounds in wine, and encouraging BIPOC voices.
I do not profess to be a wine expert, nor should members feel that a minimum knowledge base is required to participate. We seek a unique blend of newcomers and wine buffs interested in building community and enabling education through literature. I believe books can be powerful agents of community, or as the inimitable Oprah Winfrey would put it, “Over the course of my lifetime, books have helped me know that I’m not alone, even when I’m at my loneliest.”
Entirely Wine is not the stereotypical book club merely serving as a social hour fueled by gossip and too much wine. Don’t get me wrong, drinking wine is certainly encouraged, it’s hands-down the best way to learn about wine, but Entirely Wine first and foremost is focused on education, on broadening our horizons, enjoying the pleasure that different tastes, experiences, and relationships of members can bring to the discussion. The point, really, is to read about and taste wine with purpose.
To learn wine you must buy, taste, and talk about it. That is a fact. Whenever you only taste, you can easily miss out on a deeper understanding, reverting to simple judgments of “Oh, I like this” and “Hmm, I don’t like that”; tasting without understanding deprives the drinker of half of the experience. Similarly, even a diligent reader will find themselves without practical knowledge, possibly able to imagine wine on a cerebral level, but bereft of a functioning palette.
I started Entirely Wine with the intent to bring people together, not only via the books and authors we pick, but also within the club, by ensuring an all-inclusive space where every individual is inspired to be oneself and share their views on wine. Luckily, there is too much information about wine for anyone book, with new movements such as organic and natural wines emerging (or reemerging) every year, so our potential reading list is long and growing all the time.
Everyone develops a relationship to wine in their own way, this is mine. Learning without the pressure of exams and with collective support is progress and validation. I invite you to join us!
Play catch up by following the discussion @entirelywine on Instagram. You can sign up here and start learning today. Our next meeting is on June 2, 2021, at 5 PM (PDT). Currently, we are reading 99 Bottles: A Black Sheep’s Guide to Life-Changing Wines by André Mack. Check out our recommended reading page “The Wine Library” with suggestions from our community.