By hosting Tupperware-style parties, The Traveling Vineyard and Berry Brothers & Rudd are educating enthusiastic but under- info rmed wine lovers.
Ah, wine, that wondrous, versatile child of the simple grape. 2.52 billion cases of wine were consumed worldwide in 2003; that’s almost 5 bottles for every single human being on the planet. But only a very small percentage of wine drinkers have knowledge of vino that extends beyond “I’ll have a glass of your house red.” The sheer volume of wine facts can be daunting: over 5,000 varieties of grapes from dozens of regions worldwide are coaxed, coddled, blended, and aged into a staggering array of red, white, rose, still, sparkling, and fortified wines. With so many enthusiastic but under-informed wine lovers, The Traveling Vineyard and Berry Brothers & Rudd tasted and smelled an opportunity. The Traveling Vineyard is the home-based business arm of Geerlings & Wade, a US-based direct marketer of wine and wine accessories. Anyone interested in hosting a wine tasting party can call on the Traveling Vineyard rep in their area (called an Independent Personal Wine Consultant), who will work with the host to organize an at-home event for 10-20 friends. In short, Traveling Vineyard at-home wine tastings are like Tupperware parties for wine — their website bills the events as “a party in a box!”. The company began running events in April of 2002, and now boasts over 100 Personal Wine Consultants in 11 states in the US. On the other end of the spectrum is Berry Brothers & Rudd’s home wine service. Berry Brothers & Rudd (BBR) is Britain’s oldest wine and spirit merchant and one of the oldest in the world, trading from the same shop for over 300 years. Berry Brothers & Rudd offers at-home service that includes one’s very own private sommelier. Prices start at 250 British pounds ($440 USD) for advice and an introductory tasting (for a maximum of 15 guests) up to 1000 British pounds ($1750 USD) or more for a completely tutored evening.