Wine Journey: Beginner · Enthusiast · Connoisseur
There are two kinds of wine club beginners: wine beginners and first-time wine club members. Some people fall into both categories, so I’m going to run through beginner wine clubs for both groups. If you’re looking for a gift for a beginning wine drinker, I recommend these two wine clubs.
Beginners have a tendency to prefer affordable wines (on this site I define affordable as $20 per bottle of wine delivered, inclusive of the cost of delivery). Most of the inexpensive wine of the month clubs these days range from $13.50-18.00 per bottle. The cost of delivery for wine clubs in this price range is usually included in the subscription price.
If you’re new to wine, a wine subscription is a great way for you to get exposure to new kinds of wine and new wine regions. As a wine lover, developing an understanding of wine basics will increase your confidence in what you buy, but until then, it’s important to try many different wines. This is where a good beginner wine club comes into the picture.
With wine subscriptions, you can opt to have a professional pick your wine for you (curated wine clubs), or let an algorithm figure out what you like and match it to an available wine inventory (personalized wine clubs).
A personalized wine club uses a palate quiz (for your first shipment) to get to know what you like (you can opt out, but you shouldn’t) and your opinions of their wine (in subsequent shipments) to determine which wines you’ll receive. Usually you can swap out their automatically-selected wines for something you’d like more.
If you want to have a strong influence on how your wine adventure unfolds, I recommend joining a personalized wine club like Nakedwines.com or Picked by Wine.com.
With Naked Wines, you’ll be able to choose your own wines and learn about each one before you add it to your box. This wine of the month club has a range of inexpensive to mid-range wine, so you can experiment with the differences between cheaper wine and better-quality wine at your own pace.
With Picked by Wine.com, you’ll provide a personal sommelier (a real human being) with as much as you know about your preferences. You can skip or say "I don’t know" for questions you’re not sure of. As you receive wine you rate the ones you get and can provided detailed feedback to the somm about what you liked or didn’t and why. If you find you’re really vibing on grape or region, you can ask to focus there until you’re ready to move on (or never because you found your wine happy place).
From $9 a bottle. Choose at least 6 bottles per shipment and get free shipping. Buy from their recommendations or whatever looks interesting. Red, white, rosé, and sparkling wine are available. Make monthly deposits to your account but get wine whenever you want.
Read my Naked Wines review or visit Nakedwines.com
Special offer: Get 6 bottles for $39.99 or 12 bottles for $69.99 when you join Nakedwines.com. No coupon needed and shipping is included.
Picked by Wine.com
From $20 a bottle, six bottles per shipment, shipping is included. I like this club for beginners because it can grow with you. As you try things you leave feedback for your personal sommelier and s/he picks new wines to suit your tastes as you go. Red and white wine only. Ships monthly, every other month, or quarterly (and on demand). Skip a month any time.
Read my Wine.com wine club review or visit the Wine.com website
Special offer: Get $50 off your first shipment when you join Picked by Wine.com. Use code PICK50 at checkout.
If you’d prefer a curated wine experience, it’s worth exploring the Premier Series clubs from both The California Wine Club and The International Wine of the Month Club.
These aren’t strictly the “most affordable” clubs, but they offer good value and a good breadth of wine types and regions, paired with enough detailed wine information for you to start learning what you like and what you don’t. Each club is a two-bottle club and you can receive them monthly, every other month, or four times per year.
The California Wine Club
Enjoy palate-pleasing wines from California’s best small, family wineries. Perfect for getting to know wine in an easy-going format, with educational materials, and a 100% satisfaction guarantee. From $21 a bottle. 2 bottles per shipment. Shipping & handling is $21 to most states. Choose red or white wine or a mix. Ships monthly, every other month, or quarterly.
Read my reviews of The California Wine Club and see their current deals or visit their site
Int'l Wine of the Month Club
Perfect for exploring wines from all over the world. These are typically medium-production wines from high-quality producers. Offers educational materials and a satisfaction guarantee. $21 a bottle. 2 bottles per shipment and shipping is $15 to most states. Choose red or white wine or a mix. Ships monthly, every other month, or quarterly.
Read my review of Int’l Wine of the Month Club or visit their site
Whether you’ve established a personal preference in wine or not, here is what you should consider before joining a wine club.
My reviews help you stay away from wine clubs offering poor quality wine or okay quality but poor value (meaning the wine costs too much for what it is, according to my personal/professional standards). Look for my wine quality and wine price ratings when reading my reviews.
First up, logistics. If you’ve never ordered wine online before, you may not know that we have restrictive shipping laws regarding alcohol in the United States. No wine club ships to every state, and which states each company ships to varies. Don’t forget to check if a wine club can ship to you (this information is in our wine club reviews).
Next, if you’re willing to let a company ship wine to you via a subscription, then you should get some perks. Typically wine club members get a discount on the wines they receive in the shipment and also when you order more of your favorites. You also should get a good Satisfaction Guarantee, where the wine club works to replace wine you didn’t like (look for at least a 4-star rating for Satisfaction Guarantee on my reviews).
On to the wine itself… Wine experts all agree, wine preference is highly subjective and personal. There is so much wine out there and there’s something for everyone. If you currently only drink white wine, start with a white wine only subscription, and likewise if you only like red, start with a red wine only subscription. You’re more likely to like what you receive this way.
Wine tasting notes should be a thing. Learning about wine happens mostly from tasting wine and a little from reading about where the wines were produced and which grapes were used, aligning this knowledge with your personal favorite wines. Good wine clubs either provide this type of information with shipments or online. Get the most out of this info by perusing it while you’re drinking the wine.
Here are two options I think are great for first-time wine club subscribers. They offer excellent quality and pricing. One focuses on California wine and the other on a broad International selection.
The Case Club
$14 a bottle. 12 bottles per shipment and shipping is $21 to most states. A selection of US wines, mostly from California, with three each of four different wines in each box. All wines are made by small family wineries. Choose red or white wine or a mix. Ships monthly, every other month, or quarterly.
Read my review of The California Wine Club or visit their website
90+ Wine Club
$14.17 a bottle. 12 bottles per shipment and shipping is included. An International selection of 12 different wines in each box. All wines ranked at least 90+ by a wine critic. Choose red or white wine or a mix. Ships quarterly.
Read my 90+ Wine Club review or visit the Wired For Wine website
For more choices, I recommend these affordable wine of the month clubs.
Editor’s note: I’m not a big fan of marketing claims of “award-winning” wines. Often these competitions do not represent a good sample of what is available in the competitive class. There are many reasons a winery or a wine doesn’t get entered into these competitions, but that doesn’t mean they’re not good wines. As such, you won’t find wine clubs that rely on these claims on my “good for beginners” page.