Story and photos by AMANDA FOLTS
SENECA FALLS — Once a month, it’s a love of wine that brings a group of women together.
And they were sipping and socializing again on a recent Wednesday at the Hotel Clarence, where a group of about eight spent the evening sampling wine and poring over notes. All but one was a woman and most had previously been a part of a wine club that met at Bull’s Run Grille & Alehouse in Seneca Falls. The Hotel Clarence has now picked up the club after it was canceled at Bull’s Run in June.
The idea for the club originated with Lori DeFurio and Elaine Ferrara of Seneca Falls, who were at Bull’s Run one evening for a drink and told the owner it would be fun to a get a group of people together for a wine club. The suggestion became reality and the first meeting was held in July 2010 with about 10 people; over time the club gained upwards of 25 attendees. At those Bull’s Run meetings, the focus was on pairing wine and food, while the women noted the Hotel Clarence gatherings focus more on wine education.
On a recent evening chardonnay was the wine du jour. Noel Uzemack, who was leading the group, started off by giving the participants some information about the chardonnays they’d be drinking. Uzemack had six numbered bottles wrapped in paper bags, so their identities were concealed. He handed each person a few pages of notes on each wine and instructed the group to use the descriptions to try and identify the chardonnays.
The bottles were passed around the table and each person poured a little of each into the six glasses set before them. They lifted their glasses to examine the wines, smelled and swirled them, then sipped them to take in their flavors. Every now and then they’d consult their papers to see if they could correctly identify the chardonnay at hand.
Between tastings, some went over to another table where various foods were displayed and put them on plates, munching away while they compared the wines to their notes.
Once the group had guessed which wine was which, Uzemack unwrapped the bottles. As he went through them, the group chatted about their selections, and at the end of the tasting Uzemack let the group vote on which wine they liked best and opened another bottle for them to enjoy again.
For those who live in the Finger Lakes, Nancy Perrotto of Seneca Falls believes they should know something about the region’s wines. When people visit her, Perrotto said she wants to tell them about the wines, something she’s able to do now after taking part in the wine clubs. She also likes knowing what kind of wine to buy to pair with the meals she prepares.
For Dombrowski, the club’s appeal lies with the wine, food and “girls’ night out.” DeFurio said she enjoys the mystery of the new club and trying to figure out which wine she’s tasting. She also enjoys wine and food pairings and the fact the club meets close to home.
Theresa Robbins of Romulus first joined the group last October after being invited by Perrotto.
“I was hooked,” she said.
Perrotto heard about the wine club through word of mouth and said many of the participants are good friends.
“Once people came, they usually went every month,” she said.
It was just the second time the Hotel Clarence held the “Wine” Down Wednesday Club; Perrotto said she expects that group to grow in the future.
DeFurio said it’s a common love for wine plus the company that keeps the women coming back month after month.
“I think what happened was we were drawn together by the love of wine, but it was people you would only see once a month, maybe you did see them day to day, but you knew you’d bump into them there, ‘Oh hi, how are you? What’s going on?’, and it’d be like that once a month,” DeFurio said.