Wine Club Ratings Method

Find the perfect wine club for yourself or as a gift based on what matters to you!

Last updated: April 10, 2015

We are very pleased to announce our all new wine club ratings system here at

We carefully considered how the wine club marketplace has changed over the last several years, and wanted to answer the question, "How can we be most useful in helping wine lovers and wine gifters choose the best wine club for them each and every time?"

We came to the conclusion that our old ratings system wasn’t getting the job done.

In this article:

  • A recap of the old system
  • The challenge to reinvent the system
  • Comparing wine clubs to how you buy wine today
  • How the new rating system works
  • The 11 attributes that define wine clubs
  • Wine buyer profiles

A Recap of the Old System

In our old system, we presented ratings from two different methods of measuring wine clubs as the same—we rated wine clubs with wines under $30 one way, and wines over $30 another way. We also treated Free Shipping as something extra special (when it’s really not) and didn’t focus enough on what types of wines were being sent.

The Challenge to Reinvent the System

So many new wine clubs have come on the market, offering personalization and conveniences like shipping notifications and online account management, that we felt we really needed to rethink how we were rating clubs. Instead of creating a ratings system based entirely on comparing wine clubs to each other, we wanted to address the ways in which wine clubs are often a better way to buy wine than the myriad ways we do today.

Methodology: Compare Wine Clubs to How People Buy Wine Today

Retail wine clubs often come under fire from the professional wine writers of the world—critics and bloggers alike—because most professionals feel they can get a better outcome by selecting a great local wine store and creating a relationship with one or more staff members, who will then get to know the wine pro’s preferences and make excellent recommendations.

We feel, that for the average consumer, creating a relationship with a knowledgeable staff member at a local wine store is uncomfortable, difficult, or not even possible if there isn’t a good store nearby. Instead, we took a closer look at how average consumers purchase wine today (97% of the wine that is purchased in the U.S. is not purchased by professionals), and how wine clubs might be a better way to buy.

We visited superstores like BevMo! and TotalWine, members-only stores like Costco, local grocery stores like Safeway and Trader Joe’s, as well as small local wine stores. We evaluated the selection, the pricing, the in-store experience, and the process of choosing what to buy.

We also looked at flash sale sites Wine.Woot, Lot18, and Invino to see how these types of programs help consumers choose wines they’ll like at prices they like, too.

Lastly, we assembled a list of characteristics of wine clubs that we think really defines what it means to be a wine club—the additional value that makes wine clubs a meaningful alternative to buying wines “the old fashioned way.”

How the New Wine Club Ratings System Works

Each wine club on our site has been ranked across 11 characteristics. These rankings are then squeezed through a custom algorithm which places a weighted importance on certain aspects that make for a great wine club for a particular type of buyer.

For example, for the general wine consumer, we think the three most important overall traits for a wine club are the quality of the wine, the price of the actual wine that gets shipped, and opportunities to save money that are extended only to loyal wine club members.

The 11 Attributes that Define Wine Clubs

Applying the Rankings to Different Wine Club Buyers

Part of where our ratings system was failing us, was that it wasn’t helping different types of wine lovers find clubs that fit their tastes. It was overly value-focused, which isn’t everyone’s priority, and failed to distinguish between clubs offering exceptional wines, adventurous wines, or bulk wines. With our new rankings methodology, we can apply different wine-buyer profiles, which emphasize different aspects of the wine clubs, to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

We’ve started with six profiles that seem to cover most of the wine club buyers out there. The first we’ve mentioned a bit already—The All Around score. This is our default rating and is most prevalent on the site.

The Six Wine-buyer Profiles

We’ve applied our many years of reviewing wine clubs to pick these profiles and their appropriate weights, but you may not agree with all of these decisions, and we sort of expect that from you. We currently give you the ability to choose any factor and sort all of our wine clubs by the highest ranking in that characteristic. In the near term, we’ll also give you the ability to create your own profiles so you can choose exactly what is important to you in your decision-making process.

As a special reward for reading all the way to the end of this lengthy dissertation on what makes for a great wine club, please enjoy a $25 discount from The California Wine Club. Use coupon code REWARD at checkout.