It was about this time ten years ago that the Fairfield Community Hall first opened its doors to organised activities, and one of the first was the wine group, initiated and led by Rita Smith. The first meeting was attended by 18 people – of whom nine are still very active members. There are currently 42 people on the mailing list, but around 100 have attended at one time or another.

The wine group gets together on the last Friday evening of the month, with a relaxed format in which group members take turns at presenting eight wines around a theme. Over the years the themes have varied widely. Sometimes they will highlight a country, a vintage, or a particular grape variety; other times they will be more oblique. A perennial favourite is the blind tasting, which is always fun. No knowledge is needed, and anyway after a few glasses of wine, everyone’s an expert!

After having organised the group for 10 years, Rita now feels it is time to hand over the running of this highly successful and enjoyable group to someone different with new plans and ideas. That person is Kate Evans, who lives in Fairfield Hall and works for the Wine Society in Stevenage. She has agreed to take over the organisation of the Wine Group from September.

Rita’s last tasting ‘in charge’ was on Friday 26 August. Twenty-two members attended and Rita herself presented an intriguing tasting in which wines were offered in pairs and the challenge was to decide which was which. For example, could we distinguish a Champagne from a Prosecco or a Pinot Noir from a Cabernet Sauvignon? It was fun to see that even the self-professed wine buffs in the group were sometimes confounded! At the end of the evening a vote of thanks was given for all Rita’s efforts and endeavours over the years. A bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates seemed a small reward for her ten years’ service.

Are you inspired to get involved? The wines have to be bought beforehand, so this is not a ‘drop-in on the night’ group, but new members are always welcome to book ahead to attend. If you’d like to give it a go, the new contact email address is