When we reviewed our first wine club way back in March of 2009, there were only a small handful of clubs. Most of these monthly wine club companies are still in business, but now there are more than 30 businesses offering wine subscriptions.
Altogether there are more than one hundred wine clubs which cater to every kind of wine drinker and every wine budget.
With so many subscription options, you may be overwhelmed when choosing a wine club for yourself, so we’ve created this step-by-step guide, full of tips and tricks to maximize your wine enjoyment and budget.
Step 1: Select the state you live in
Why you should you select a state. There are only 36 states which freely allow wine to be shipped directly to consumers. The others have a series of rules governing who can and cannot ship directly to consumers, and some forbid it entirely.
Step 2: What kind of wine buyer are you?
After 11 years of reviewing wine clubs, we’ve identified a few groups of wine buyers and the wine of the month clubs that cater to them. We use the per-bottle price to make these judgments because that one factor typically drives the both the wine in the subscriptions and the wine buyers’ enjoyment of them.
Here are 3 types of wine lovers we think join wine clubs
- Just starting out. Someone who doesn’t yet know much about wine and wants to explore a little. We think wine clubs priced under $15 a bottle are the best option. Our ratings will help you steer clear of the stinkers that show up in this price range.
- Wine enthusiasts are people who have a more refined sense of what they like and tend to prefer unusual or high-quality wines. We suggest joining a wine club in the $25-45 per bottle price range for these savvy drinkers. These wine clubs offer boutique, small-production, and otherwise very hard to find wines.
- Wine connoisseurs are typically comfortable spending upwards of $45 a bottle for special wine. There are some pretty incredible wine clubs to join when you want high-end wine with a guarantee.
Remember which kind of wine drinker you are as you read the rest of this guide, we’ll point out the best options for you.
Step 3: Choose either personalized or curated wine clubs
In this modern era, you can opt to have a professional pick your wine for you, or let an algorithm figure out what you like and match it to an available wine inventory. Read on to see how these curated and personalzied wine clubs are different.
A curated wine club is one where someone else picks all of the wines you receive and every wine club member gets the same wines as each other. Most often a professional is picking wines for the broadest appeal.
The pros and cons of curated wine subscriptions:
- PRO: There isn’t any “work” for you to do
- PRO: You’ll grow your wine knowledge and discover new favorites faster
- CON: You may occasionally get wines that you don’t prefer, like Merlot or Chardonnay
- CON: You may rarely get wine you do prefer, like Cabernet or Sauvignon Blanc
A personalized wine club uses a palate quiz (for your first shipment) and your opinions of their wine (subsequent shipments) to determine which wines they’ll send to you. While they want to match you with the best wines for your palate, you’re limited to the wines available at the wine club.
The pros and cons of personalized wine subscriptions:
- PRO: Wines are selected for you based on preferences you’ve stated, either through a quiz or by rating wine
- PRO: Most personalized wine clubs let you swap out bottles if you’re in the mood for something different than what they recommend
- CON: It might take several shipments before the wine club knows what you like and they may never get it perfect (patience is a virtue)
- CON: They only send wine that fits a generalized palate profile shared by many consumers, not your specific palate
Step 4: What kind of wine do you want to drink
The simplest form of a wine club sends red and white wine from either California or a mix of International regions. This is exactly what many people want — a variety of wine that shows up at your door on a regular basis. Before you pick the wine you want to get, take a moment to consider what you want from a wine subscription.
- Do you want specific grapes or regions?
- Do you want to discover new wines that suit your current preferences?
- Do you want to go on a no holds barred wine adventure?
Okay, now that you’ve pondered the “goal” of your wine membership, let’s dive in.
Choose among loosely-focused wine clubs
By wine color or style:
In a broad wine region:
Sometimes the “red wine only” version of a wine club means two of the exact same red wine. Read the fine print to verify whether you’re getting the same or different wines in each shipment.
Our Top Pick for Red Wine Clubs: Plonk Wine Club
You can also get very specific
- The Pinot Noir Series offers only California Pinot
- The Aged Cabernet Series offers library wines mostly from Napa and Sonoma, aged 7-12 years, and ready to drink now
- Other varietal wine clubs for just one grape variety
- The Light & Sweet Wine Club offers sweeter white wines like Moscato and Riesling
- Napa Valley Wine Clubs or Bordeaux Wine Clubs for just one wine region
- Nakedwines.com gives you exactly what you want, because you pick your selection from among their hundreds of wines.
If you want to try new wines like your current preferences
- Just starting out? Choose a wine club that gives you more wine to love. These 12-bottle case clubs are value-priced and will improve your wine knowledge.
Join the club: Case Club (curated, California) or 90+ Wine Club (curated, International).
Need smaller shipments? Try The Cellar Series, a 6-bottle International wine club
- An everyday drinker? Consider joining a wine club that offers a quality bump over what you’ve been drinking but sticks with the most popular grapes and leading wine regions.
Join the club: Gold Series (curated, California) or Winc (personalized, mostly California)
- A wine enthusiast? Choose a wine club that features a selection of familiar grapes and regions, but also introduces something new to your repertoire.
Join the club: The Collectors Series (curated, International) or Plonk Wine Club (curated, International)
- A wine connoisseur? It’s a little-known secret that you can find great deals on small-production gems from the best wineries without visiting their tasting rooms. Remember, your local wine shop won’t offer you a satisfaction guarantee, but these members-only clubs will.
Join the club: Signature Series (curated, California) or Diamond Series (curated, California)
If you want to go on a wine adventure
Discovery of new wine is the fun part for most wine lovers, but we often get stuck in a rut and forget to try new things. These subscriptions will keep your mouth happy.
- Just starting out? Whether you let someone else pick for you or you opt for the do-it-yourself version, you can find great clubs at easy-to-swallow prices.
Join the club: Wine Awesomeness (curated, International) or Winc (personalized, mostly California)
- An everyday drinker? It’s time to kick it up a notch and enjoy a deeper dive into lesser known wine regions and styles.
Join the club: The World of Wine Club (curated, International) or Plonk Wine Club (curated, International)
- A wine enthusiast? The more obscure the better. Whether it’s the tiniest wineries or a sommelier’s favorite deals, these two wine clubs are worth the money.
Join the club: Garagiste Series (curated, California) or Adventurer’s Wine Box (curated, International)
- A wine connoisseur? Get introduced you to wines you’d never try on your own with a wine club that is also an importer — you won’t see much of their wine for sale elsewhere.
Join the club: Wine Access gets you to an unusual selection of surprisingly affordable but totally connoisseur-ready wines
Step 5: How much wine you should get delivered
While this is largely a personal decision, the answer is probably not “barrels of wine.” We recommend considering the following factors: how much wine you drink each month, how much of your wine you want to buy through a wine subscription, and how often you want to receive shipments. Read on to learn about the mertis of larger shipments delivered less often.
We recommend opting for the largest shipments offered by your club and get them delivered at the right interval to fit your wine habits.
There are real benefits to ordering larger shipments
- The lowest prices. Wine clubs often give the best pricing to their best customers. The best wine deals are usually “by the case” (12 bottles). There are many clubs that use the “buy more, save more” price structure.
- Reduced shipping costs. Most wine clubs pay part of the cost of shipping wine and use flat rate shipping.
Example: Two bottles of wine costs the customer $14 to ship. In this scenario you’re paying $7 per bottle for shipping. In contrast, most 12-bottle wine clubs offer $19.99 shipping. In this case you’re paying just $1.67 per bottle for shipping.
Ordering larger shipments means you’ll spend more of your money on wine and less of your money on shipping that wine to you.
- Convenience. As much as we don’t want to rain on the wine club parade, it’s true that waiting around for deliveries can be a drag. There are ways to get around that issue, but if you receive fewer shipments, then you’ll deal with that annoyance less often.
You’ve decided to join a wine club? You chose wisely.
See which wine clubs we think are the best
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