WINE CLUBS in the area sponsor formal tastings, seminars on winemaking and grape-growing, and various other viticultural events.

The American Wine Society has several chapters in the Washington area, all of which hold tastings and wines classes. The Society has 3,500 members, and membership costs $24 a year. You become a member of a local chapter by writing the Society's national headquarters at 3006 Latta Rd., Rochester NY 14612. 716/225-7613.

Les Amis Du Vin Inc., a 22-year-old organization, sponsors wine-tastings and discounts on wines. Members pay $30 for invitations to the tastings and affiliation with other chapters, a membership card that can be used to get discounts on wine, and a subscription to a magazine. An $18 fee gets you membership in the society and a magazine -- no tastings or affiliation with other clubs. Les Amis' address is 2302 Perkins Pl., Silver Spring MD 20910. 588-0980.

Check with your local vineyard or wine merchant for the names and addresses of other wine-appreciation organizations in your area.

Wines from Virginia vineyards are available at state ABC stores and at some specialized wine stores like Arrowine, 6661 Old Dominion Dr., McLean, and Virginia Vintage Ltd., 222 N. Lee St., Alexandria.

Wines from Maryland are available at county stores in Montgomery County and stores that specialize in wines, like Circle Liquors, 5501 Connecticut Ave. NW. Circle also handles Allegro wines.