By Shannon O’Daniel

After I turned 40, I adopted a new motto: “Enough wine cures anything.” This replaced my long-standing “apathy is the key to flexibility,” which served me well through my 30’s.

In the past few years, I have discovered that wine is a true panacea. Have insomnia? Drink wine! Paralyzed by insecurities? Drink more wine! Suffering from sparkling white teeth? Drink red wine!

But how does one choose a bottle of wine? The selection of a new bottle of wine can seem daunting, even dangerous. What if I don’t like it? Wine bad! If I love it, how to choose a similar bottle? Wine good! What if I can’t decide and just stand, staring at all the pretty labels? Do not taunt the wine!

Reading wine descriptions and reviews are often more perplexing than helpful. Am I to interpret “Earthy, with hints of pencil shavings and overtones of tobacco” as anything but “Eww”? Once uncorked, we are then encouraged to pay attention to the “finish, aftertaste, legs, perfume, nose.”

Should we really care?

For me, wine is like art. I just buy what I like, and sometimes my friends think it’s crap. But, if your tastes are un-defined, or un-refined, a wine club is a simple way to discover what you like.  For a reasonable fee, you receive a few bottles a month, chosen for you by those in-the-know.  Soon enough, you’ll know too.

The 411

Wine clubs around town offer two to four wines for a monthly price of $30 to $60. The proprietors mentioned here provide discounts to club members on in-store wine purchases. One of the benefits of a club is the buying power of the group. You are able to buy wines for less than you could otherwise. Along with each bottle selected, members receive wine origins and facts, tasting notes (“soiled leather with a meaty background”), and suggested food pairings. There are no joining or cancellation fees, but some require a few days to two weeks notice if you want to cancel your membership.

Wine Clubs

The Mercantile: Janea Boyles seeks out wines that are new or hard to find in the Atlanta market. Her specialty is wines for everyday life and she includes bottles from interesting wineries or an innovative winemaker she’s discovered. Anyone can stop in on a Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. for a free wine tasting. If you taste something you like, buy a bottle at a special discount that day. 1660 Dekalb Ave., (404) 378-0096 or themercantileatl.com

Perrines: Sommelier Perrine Prieur grew up in Burgundy, the epicenter of the French wine region. Buying organic wines whenever possible, Perrine’s selections concentrate on small producer, family-owned wineries. There are two club tiers from which to choose: the Starter – perfect for those just embarking on their wine journey and the Signature for those already in love with wine and anxious to explore new grapes and regions. Perrine’s also offers weekly wine tastings and educational classes. 1168 Howell Mill Road, Suite B, (404) 254- 5077 or perrineswine.com

Hop City: Wine club members may select red, white and blend bottles. The team at Hop City chooses wines based on what they are interested in at the moment balanced with what they think will appeal to the club. Members here may hop in and out of the club at will. Because you pay on pickup, no cancellation notice is required. Check out their wine blog at chrisreidwineandbeverage.blogspot.com. 1000 Marietta Street #302, (404) 350-9998 or hopcitybeer.com

The Vineyard: The Vineyard invites wine club members to choose their own wines. Join the club and attend a free wine tasting each month. Members sample six or seven wines and choose two of their favorite bottles to take home. Owner Anthony Alvarez welcomes everyone “except stuffy wine snobs” and is proud of the friendships and sense of community his wine club has fostered. The Vineyard offers special members-only monthly wine deals and savings on all in-store purchases. 2022 Powers Ferry Road, Suite 210, (770) 226- 0099 or thevineyardwinemarket.com

Whether you’re a novice or a long time lover of wine, the biggest benefit of joining a wine club is getting in touch with your own preferences. Be open and have fun. Besides, that bottle of wine from your wine club may be the only thing that gets you through Thanksgiving with the in-laws. You’ll have become an enophile – and that’s a good thing.

Shannon is 40% mom 25% wife 30% comedian 5% boobs and 100% awesome. She lives in Oakhurst with her adoring family.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.