Free wine samples for the savvy

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If you're the kind of person not to shy from free wine samples and a friendly pot luck, I have the club for you: the Colorado Liquor Outlet Tasting Club.

Start with a local wine club ... then graduate to Aspens annual Food & Wine event.
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Start with a local wine club ... then graduate to Aspen's annual Food & Wine event.
CLO employee William Gillum launched the group this past September, offering a tasting every few weeks — which has now grown to a 1:30 and 4 p.m. tasting on those days, with some 150 people now regularly attending. The next meetings are on Saturday, June 5 and Saturday, June 26 at a site in the Springs Ranch Shopping Center off Powers Boulevard and North Carefree Circle. (The store is located at 1615 Briargate Blvd.; call 266-9300 for more details.)

Gillum says classes last around an hour, with six to eight wines sampled and discussed. Attendees then receive coupons to purchase the featured wines at CLO — no pressure.

When politely asked if he's been overrun with freeloaders, Gillum replied that the tasting club strategy has actually increased sales at the store and seems to be working beautifully. And club members — average age around 40 to 45 he says — will soon be presented with an option to book some wine trips together and receive a group travel savings.

An encouragement to newbies: Gillum says the regular folks aren't really wine snobs, but in fact many beginners and folks who know just a little about wine varietals and the like.

The June 5 and 26 sessions are tentatively slated to cover Old World varietals grown in California; Gillum has named the presentation "Cal-Italia."

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