Jan 072016

By Al Vuona
Posted Jan. 7, 2016 at 6:00 AM
Updated at 11:12 AM

For Worcester native Joe Paparella, wine has become a deeply rooted passion. He describes the experience this way, “While in my 20s beer was the beverage of choice. Then slowly this evolution began whereby I became captivated with wine.” Today as chapter chairman of the Worcester Wine Society, Paparella continues to extoll the virtues of wine appreciation with others.

The Worcester Wine Society is the local branch of the American Wine Society, the oldest and largest consumer organization in the U.S. dedicated to promoting wine appreciation. The Worcester group, with its 40 or so members, meets regularly to taste, discuss and evaluate wines from around the world. In addition, they attend social events, winery tours and wine dinners. While learning and education is certainly a big part of the group’s focus, it’s the enjoyment of tasting wine and sharing ideas with one another that members find most appealing.

According to Paparella, membership at the local level is free and prior wine experience is not required. The Worcester chapter was formally launched in 2012 and since that time has attracted wine lovers from Worcester and surrounding communities.

“We don’t expect people to be wine experts,” Paparella says. “We want our members to enjoy wine and not feel intimidated, that’s really what it’s all about. Each meeting features samplings of wines from a particular region of the world along with food and appetizers. Note-taking and discussion is a big part of what we do, along with enjoying one another’s company.”

I asked Paparella who he felt were better wine tasters, men or women.

“I would have to say that based on my experience women tend to pick up aromas and nuances that most men overlook. I think it has something to do with how keen their sense of smell is.”

The monthly wine tastings are usually held in members’ homes, hotel meeting spaces and other spots in and around Worcester. Participants feel comfortable getting together in smaller venues where they can freely discuss the wines being tasted. This is especially true for new members, who sometimes feel overwhelmed.

Founded in 1967, the American Wine Society has more than 125 chapters throughout the US. Membership fees start at $49 and members must be at least 21 years old. In addition to national conferences, the association hosts wine judging and competitions, which are open to all members.

As for future plans, the Worcester chapter is exploring the possibility of hosting a regional symposium in which tasting groups throughout Central Mass. will gather to taste wines from various regions of the world. Now that’s what I call a wine loving society.

Original article: http://www.telegram.com/article/20160107/ENTERTAINMENTLIFE/160109520