3 Easy Ways to Get to 100 (Wine Varieties, That Is)

Vinted on May 1, 2009 binned in learning wine, wine appreciation

Did we really tell lies
Letting in the sunshine
Did we really count to one hundred

Jon Anderson, Long Distance Runaround

If you’ve been on the “global interwebs” for any appreciable amount of time, and you like wine, you’ll already be familiar with the Wine Century Club.  If not, here’s a short primer: the WCC is an organization that seeks to promote wine appreciation by offering you bragging rights after you successfully taste 100 or more wine varieties.  Download the application, fill it in, send it to the WCC, and then you’re a member.

Of course, there is the matter of tasting the required 100 or more wine varieties. 

I’ve got a buddy who I’ve known for over 30 years (since I was five years old, actually) who is not a wine geek per se, but he does enjoy wine and he loves to learn, and he especially likes collecting categorical experiences.  He recently asked me about the Wine Century Club after seeing that I was a member, generally inquiring about how to go about tasting the 100 different wine grape varieties required to gain membership

My buddy is not the kind of guy to get daunted by a challenge like tasting 100 different wine grape varieties, but while being a fantastic idea and also clearly in the camp of spreading wine appreciation to the masses, the WCC doesn’t exactly do itself any favors in terms of encouraging membership when it publishes this sort of warning on its website:

“It’s a simple idea, but it’s not as easy to become a member as you may think. One Master Sommelier could only come up with 82. Of the thousands of applications downloaded, less than 3% are completed. If you feel up to the challenge, have a look at the application!”

With all due respect to the WCC founders, I’ve got to go ahead and disagree on that.  I think my buddy is exactly the kind of person that should be shooting for WCC membership.

In fact, it’s my belief that anyone who wants to learn more about wine should become a Wine Century Club member.

It’s not difficult at all to do this (hell, even I did it).  It just takes patience (I said it wasn’t difficult – I didn’t say it was quick).

If you’re someone who wants to learn about wine, you’d do far worse than seek out 100 different grape varieties to try – you’ve got nothing to lose except time (and a little bit of money), and you stand to gain an immeasurable amount of quality wine experience along the way.  There is no faster way to learn about wine, after all, than to taste it.

So I thought I’d offer some advice on how you can get to the 100 and join the WCC yourself.  The competitive among you (like me) won’t have any trouble motivating yourself (“I will get me 100 grape varieties, dammit!!!”), but if you need even more incentive, how about this: did you know that one of prog rock pioneers Yes’ greatest songs, Long Distance Runaround, from their landmark 1971 LP Fragile, was written about the Wine Century Club (even though the WCC wasn’t founded until decades after the album’s release)?*  How friggin’ cool is that?!??

* – This statement has not been verified by any reputable source and is probably totally false.  But Yes kicks ass, can we just agree on that?


Anyway, onto the advice…

3 Easy Ways to Get to 100 and Join the Wine Century Club

1) Take Stock

If you’ve been drinking wine for a while, likely you have tried more grape varieties than you realize (if you suffer from having a spouse / main squeeze that only drinks one style of wine… I feel for you but you need help if you’re gonna get crackin’ on the 100).  For WCC membership, blends count, so take a few minutes to think back on how many varieties you can check off from those blended wines.  If you’d had a Southern Rhone wine anytime in the recent past, look up that sucker on the web, because you may have tasted upwards of a dozen varieties in that one glass.

2) Take a Class

Wine classes are a great way to up your wine IQ (well… duh…), but they’re also the kind of setting where you often get to try wines that are off the beaten path.  If you don’t know much about a particular wine region, it’s a great excuse to get yourself to a wine class and get educated.  It’s also an opportunity to tick off a likely more than a few varieties on your way to the 100.

3) Take a Trip

When you travel, try wine – preferably local wine.  Tasting wine in its home region, paired with its “home” food, is really experiencing wine in its natural element, and it will seriously expand your wine knowledge.  Of course, traveling is also an opportunity to try funky local wines that might not otherwise be available to you.  Here’s an example: Italy has hundreds of wine grape varieties, so a short time in Italy would get you ticking off wine varieties on your WCC application like… well… like a thing that speedily checks stuff off applications.  Anyway, if you lived in Italy, you should be able to complete the WCC application before your twelfth birthday.

So there you have it – nothing difficult about it.  Well, nothing difficult apart from having the patience to let your wine journey unfold naturally so that you experience the wonderful world that it has to offer you…




(images: amazon.com ,1WineDude, melaman2.com)





  • Paula Sindberg

    EASY way to add to your grape variety "life list" and to qualify for the Wine Century Club –

    Drink wine from lesser known producing countries like Austria, Portugal, Italy (outside of Tuscany), Germany, Switzerland, Hungary. These countries all have lots of their own indigenous (autochthonous) grape varieties and they are delicious!! Of course, you have to search out some smaller specialist wine merchants to find many wines from these places, but that search is part of the fun.

    Heck, I went to an Hungarian tasting yesterday and tried at least 10 unusual varietals on the day (and about 10 more well-known French varietals – probably more of each). If you did the same, you'd be 20% of the way to qualifying in a day. See, easy to do and lots of fun.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Paula – GREAT advice!

  • Dylan

    Joe, do you know how many potential varietals exist right now? I'd imagine at least 100 for this membership to be available, but why is it that I always seem to see the same 10 varietals?

    • 1WineDude

      Well, the top 10 are the ones that drive the $$, but there are probably a couple of hundred varietals being made into wine regularly. Whether or not they're available to you is a matter of your local market, however…

  • 1WineDude

    Thanks. Good point. I vote for bits of colored paper…

  • Bryan

    I have never heard of the Wine Century Club until today and I must say I am really eager to try it. I would consider myself a novice wine drinker but I have a brother who is very deep into wine culture and this is something that I am going to share with him. I love trying new wines and this challenge offers a new and exciting way to experience wines that I probably would not have tried before. Thanks for posting this story


    • 1WineDude

      My pleasure – let us know how you make out!

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    How to get to 100 – Wine Century Club…

    Here is an article from 1winedude on the Wine Century Club which aims to record 100 different grape varieties. MY wine certification included the fact that there are over 1000 grape varieties in Italy. I wonder where he got his certificate from?

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