Club W is a new kind of wine club—get a personalized list of available selections each month and then choose your own wine. This makes for a great gift, too!
We love the great selection of quirky wines all priced at $13 or $19, and are especially impressed with the whites and roses. We love that you can put as many wines in your box as you want, and that shipping is free on 6 or more bottles.
The wine descriptions tend to purposely avoid helpful terms that experienced wine drinkers look for in selecting bottles (i.e., no references to "buttery" or "acidic").
After more than two years and a lot of changes, we felt it was time to take a closer look at Club W. One thing remains the same: Club W is not your ordinary wine of the month club. Now, instead of just reinventing what a wine club should be, they're reinventing the wine industry—except the yummy parts, they've left those in.
Editor's Note: There are a LOT of reviews of Club W out there. Most of them are done by freelance writers with a passing interest in wine. We are professional wine club reviewers (not wine reviewers) who have reviewed almost two hundred wine clubs over a period of six years (and counting). You'll find this review of Club W to be the most detailed anywhere on the web—because we care.
You're probably familiar with the model where every month two bottles of wine arrive at your door. You get two wines that will appeal to the broadest number of palates, and that presumably are worth roughly what you've paid for them. Today, when we can buy anything on the internet and companies are bending over backwards to personalize every shopper's experience, this model is becoming outdated.
Enter Club W. They smartly offer a selection curated to your palate, let you choose your own wine, and let you buy as little or as much as you need, er, want.
Club W breaks the traditional wine of the month club model by doing the following:
Club W's selection is aimed at the casual wine drinker who is interested in discovering wines that are more unusual. The bulk of what Club W offers is priced at $13. They're offering you a personalized selection of wines that you won't find at the grocery store, even though these are grocery store prices.
The pricing model and their dogged focus on using little to no wine jargon makes this a great site for people just getting started with wine drinking, a.k.a. rookies.
They have a youthful and irreverant approach which is a welcome part of the contemporary wine experience. If you haven't seen their quirky commercial, watch this to get a sense of what you're in for.
One of the chief complaints of subscription services is that there's extra packaging and gasoline used in the delivery of the goods. While you can't get away from either of these entirely, Club W makes as many earth-friendly decisions as they can. Below you can read about the carbon efficiency of their supply chain.
They also are consistently engineering eco-friendlier packaging (theirs is 100% recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable).
AND, for those of you who are interested in sustainable winemaking, "We actively support growers and winemakers that practice sustainable farming and winemaking. Whenever possible we opt for organically grown grapes and minimal intervention in production. We feature a number of biodynamic, vegan and otherwise sustainably farmed and vinted wines. Look for the grape leaf icon on wines that emphasize natural farming and winemaking practices. When you see the mark visit the wine description on our site or mobile apps for additional information."
At WineClubReviews.net we take an objective approach to our star ratings system. Our written reviews are very much subjective, based on our 5+ years of wine club review experience and our own ideas about what good wine and good value mean. The star ratings are based on 11 attributes that we feel define what a wine club should be. Here is how Club W Wine Experience stacks up on these traits.
Note: This rating is our objective analysis of Club W’s satisfaction guarantee—not our assessment of whether or not you’re guaranteed to be satisfied with their wines.
From their FAQ page:
"What do I do if I don't like my wine?
Club W takes pride in offering some of the best products available for our members. In the event that you are dissatisfied with the quality or taste of the product, please contact us immediately. We will gladly credit you the full value of your bottle towards another wine of your choosing in your next shipment. It's that simple. ... Restrictions apply. Please ask a Club W Concierge for more details. We reserve the right to deny Satisfaction Guarantee to customers who abuse the policy."
There are few clubs that have elevated the wine-buying experience to truly convenient (let’s face it, shipping logistics can be a major hassle), but Club W is one of them. They have a reasonable level of anytime-you-want-it online control of your account—change your number of bottles and your selection of wines easily online. They have a "Skip a Month" feature which is useful for vacations, but you can't cancel your membership without picking up the phone.
You'll get email notifications to remind you to pick the wines for your next box, as well as reminding you the date your wine will ship, and a delivery reminder the day before it arrives.
A personalized wine club used to mean you picked the color of your wine and maybe how often you received your two-bottle selection. These days, companies like Club W, Lot18, and invino are all targeting the wine drinker who only wants to receive wines they’ll love. There’s something to be said for “no surprises” but the adventure of trying wines you wouldn’t have picked yourself has its charm, too. Regardless, Club W only does an okay job of recommending wines for me (this could be my fault as I don't rate my wines often enough and I like a really huge variety of wine so I get bored easily).
You start your membership by taking a Palate Profile quiz where they ask you about your taste preferences for coffee, salt, citrus, mushrooms, berries, and your adventurousness. I took the palate quiz again to see how they'd do with a fresh start and found their recommendations are getting better.
We've been drinking Club W wine on a regular basis for three years now. If you like sweeter wines and interesting whites, this is a terrific wine club for you. You'll love choices other than Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc (though they offer those, too) and you won't find a better value at the grocery store.
Red wines have been a little hit-and-miss. We have been surprised by the quality of a small handful of $13 red wines from Club W, but more often than not, we're disappointed—they're jammy and have a short finish, generally lacking character and tasting of "grape." Over time, Club W has shifted their approach to red wine and it's been getting better. Also, once we started spending a little more, around $20, we received better quality wines that are well-suited to everyday drinking for an experienced drinker. If your budget allows for that, upgrade your reds to their more premium selections.
Wine prices are always a subject of much debate, especially in the industry. For most consumers however, the price is set by what they think a bottle of everyday wine should cost—most commonly around $10-15 and not infrequenlty under $10. It's nearly impossible to produce great wine in this price range, though it's a lot easier for white wines.
Club W's prices are exceptional. Most of their selection costs $13 (which includes shipping if you select six or more bottles for your monthly box). Given that it's notoriously difficult to produce a good red wine at that price, they also include some more expensive options for red wine lovers. At the time of this review, there were nine red wines priced $17-$29. Since you pick your own wines, you don't have to worry about being surprised with a more expensive wine if it's not in your budget.
We look at three areas when evaluating the discount opportunities offered by a wine club. Is there an introductory offer to sweeten the deal? Are there discounts available for buying more of wines you loved in your shipments? Are there special discounts only available to members?
To the general public, Club W has a great introductory offer right now (it changes a few times a year): Your first bottle is on them! BUT if you're a WineClubReviews.net reader (hint: you're on our site right now), you get $19 in credits toward your first shipment—that's a free bottle AND free shipping.
Reorder or members-only discounts are something new at Club W, but hooray, they're doing it! Find a wine you love and want to make it your daily drinker? Buy six or more of any Club W wine and save 10%. Buy 12 or more of any Club W wine and save 20%!
Lastly, members-only deals are limited at Club W. Get a friend to join and you’ll enjoy a $13 credit on their first shipment and another $13 credit on their second shipment. If you like JetBlue, as a loyal Club W member, JetBlue will reward you with 1,000 TrueBlue points for every 24 bottles purchased.
You will occasionally get offers to join other companies' programs—like Plated or Hello Fresh (companies that send ingredients and recipes for you to cook at home).
Club W has a hit-and-miss customer service record. While we haven't received direct complaints from customers, there are many websites detailing customer service foul-ups. Usually this is because people seem confused about the fact that they've signed up for a monthly subscription service; the other chief complaint is that the wines aren't sophisticated or high quality. Our response to that is typically, "What exactly did you think you were getting for $13/bottle delivered? Opus One?"
Important Note: You DO have to CALL to cancel. You cannot cancel your account online.
Club W's curation process starts with the winemakers they select to work with. Their service runs on rating wines for your palate, so they try to make wines to fit easily-defined profiles. This may not excite experienced wine drinkers who expect nuance and a long finish. Their wines are all designed for low-fuss enjoyment.
Then, the magic happens. This is essentially a double-curated club—first by professionals, and then by YOUR TASTE PREFERENCES. Stick with their Palate Picks or go off-book and create your own wine-tasting experience—either way, you win(e).
Personalized wine clubs like Club W are still pretty rare so they get high marks for being unique. Club W defines their niche by delivering exceptional value at an-almost-too-good-to-be-true price-point by redefining the entire wine distribution process, cutting out middlemen and shipping costs during the winemaking process. Their target market is 25-34 year old females, so their branding is saucy and fun, lively in tone and aesthetics, and always friendly.
The education style for Club W is different than other wine clubs. At other clubs you get a glossy (or not) printed brochure detailing how the wine was made, a bit about the wine region, the winemaker, and the winery. This is usually accompanied by food-pairing recipes and other trivia.
Club W takes another approach—all of their educational materials are online. For each Club W wine, you can watch a video with a cheerful sommelier explaining what you smell and taste, how the wine represents its region, and how it's different than other wines made from the same varietal. The way they film these videos, it's like having a professional wine tasting in your home—by watching these videos when you crack open a bottle, your wine knowledge will be enhanced in an easy-to-digest manner.
You also get a text-based description of the wine, optimal food pairings, and a gourmet recipe designed precisely for that wine. Since Club W has control over every step of their winemaking process, they can thoughtfully design recipe pairings that knock it out of the park. For example, their Piu Gioia Pinot Grigio—with notes of lemon zest, white peach, and honey along with crisp acidity and a lovely balance of fruit and minerality—is paired with a mouthwatering Recipe for Creamy Cauliflower and Roasted Garlic Linguine with Lemony Shrimp. Is it dinner time yet?
If detailed information about the vineyard, the winemaker, or the winery is critical to your wine club experience (mostly wine geeks like this), then this isn't the club for you. For everyone else, this is useful information. Also, given Club W's commitment to sustainability, online delivery of these materials is better for the planet.
We think Club W makes a fantabulous gift idea. (Yes, we know we made up that word.) Most wine clubs are great last-minute gifts because you can print out a gift notice and stick it in a card, but if you plan ahead by as little as a few days, you can deliver a gorgeous, wax-sealed gift card announcing the fun that is to come.
You can pick exactly how much you want to spend, and your lucky wine-loving recipient gets to choose their own wines! Need corporate gifts? Try this page for Club W's Corporate Gifting program.
See how fantabulous Club W makes gifting for yourself!
Club W is pairing their 2014 Oh Snap! Sparkling Chenin Blanc with Cheddar Jalapeño Green Onion Donuts. Seriously.