Should I join a wine club?
Why join a wine club?
5 common reasons wine lovers become wine club members:
- Discovery. Bored with the grocery store selection? It’s time to try the world of wine that isn’t produced by massive companies. You may find a new favorite wine.
- Simplicity. If you ever feel overwhelmed by the wall of wine at BevMo! or the unlimited selection from online wine shops, a wine club will pick for you.
- Convenience. If you are too busy to learn about exciting new wines or to go pick them up at a wine store, make wine buying easier by having it delivered.
- Access. If you want access to small-production wines from boutique wineries, you can buy winery-direct or join a wine of the month club that sources these wines.
- Value. Looking for members-only pricing or everyday value? There are fewer middlemen involved in getting your wine to you with wine clubs than wine stores.
What kind of wine clubs are there?
We find many people only know about winery wine clubs, mostly because of their experiences visiting tasting rooms in wine country. If you really love a particular winery, this is the best way to get access to all of their wines at preferred pricing.
But what if you want deliveries from more than just one winery? That’s where “retail” wine of the month clubs (like the kind you’ll find on this website) come in. With these wine sellers, when you join the club you get access to a selection of wine curated from many wineries, not just one.
Why a wine club instead of a wine store?
If you ask someone who works in the wine industry, the standard advice for wine buying is to find a trusted store (preferably in your home town) and rely on the folks working there to get to know what you like and then make personalized recommendations.
While we fully support buying from local wine stores, we know there are a couple of key hurdles to that ideal situation: you may not know how to describe what you like and, unless you're buying at least a case a month, we think it’s unlikely your local wine store clerk is going to get to know your palate.
Wine club features you don’t get from a wine store
Let’s explore the features that define wine memberships and how those features add value compared to how you buy wine from other wine retailers.
We rate 10 different features for every wine club we review because these other features set the very best wine club services apart from the rest.
Here are 10 things to know about any wine club before you join:
- Satisfaction Guarantee. Why pay for a bottle you didn’t love? Guarantees range from “we’ll replace anything” to “we’ll replace ‘bad bottles’” to “too bad you didn’t like it.” You can guess which ones we prefer.
Compare: How many local wine stores let you return open bottles?
Best Satisfaction Guarantee? The California Wine Club · All wine clubs ranked by guarantee
- Convenience. A major selling point for any subscription, we think wine clubs that offer vacation holds or “skip a month,” send email or text delivery notices, and remind you a shipment is coming before they charge your card are the best ones.
Compare: How many local wine stores deliver your wine?
Most convenient? TastingRoom by Lot18 · All wine clubs ranked by convenience
- Discount Opportunities. There are three kinds of discounts we look at: introductory offers, discounts on reorders of your favorites, and special deals for members only.
Compare: How many local wine stores offer 50% on your first order?
Best discounts? Winc Wine Club · All wine clubs ranked by discounts
- Customer Service Record. We can’t know what’s happening behind the scenes between wine clubs and their customers, but customers send us complaints about wine clubs and we check for feedback elsewhere on the interwebs.
Compare: How many local wine stores will help you plan your next trip to California wine country?
Best customer support? The California Wine Club · All wine clubs ranked by support
- Personalization. Traditional wine clubs “personalize” shipments by allowing you to choose wine color and delivery frequency. Modern wine clubs personalize based on your stated likes and dislikes. One even lets you order exactly what you want.
Compare: How many local wine stores really get to know your palate?
Best personalization? inClub by Invino · All wine clubs ranked by personalization
- Curation Process. How the wine is selected is related to how likely you are to enjoy it. Some wine clubs have elaborate tasting panels, while others rely on sommelier and other expert opinions to source great wines. Some just get their hands on anything they think they can sell.
Compare: How many local wine stores tell you why they carry the wines they do?
Best curation? Plonk Wine Club · All wine clubs ranked by curation
- Uniqueness of the Wine Club. We think traditional wine clubs are a great service for many wine drinkers, but we applaud companies that go out of their way to offer a unique wine experience.
Compare: How many local wine stores offer quirky and unusual wine?
Most unique? VineBox · All wine clubs ranked by uniqueness
- Wine Education. Basic information about a wine is enough (what’s in the bottle and where it was produced) works for most people, but tasting notes and background information are essential to learning about wine with each shipment. Many wine clubs are now only offering this information online instead of in the box. That’s okay with us, as long as the information is available.
Compare: How many local wine stores provide tasting and production notes?
Best education? The California Wine Club · All wine clubs ranked by education
- Price of the Wine. We look at two things when we evaluate the price of the wine in a shipment: 1) Are the wines priced at suggested retail or less? 2) Do we feel you get your money’s worth from each bottle? This is can be subjective, but we try a lot of wine club shipments and we think we’re pretty good at judging “the right price.”
Best prices? Wired For Wine · All wine clubs ranked by wine price
- Quality of the Wine. While subjective, there are standard traits we keep an eye out for: 1) Is the wine balanced? 2) Is the wine too heavy on the oak or the taste of alcohol or acid? 3) Does the wine taste like the grapes it’s made of or just like grapes? For higher-quality wines, we look deeper — How was the wine produced and by whom? Does the wine have a good score from a reputable wine critic?
Best wine quality? The California Wine Club · All wine clubs ranked by wine quality
Our wine club reviews detail how each wine club stacks up on these 10 traits.