Bright Cellars vs Firstleaf
Not sure which personalized wine subscription you want to join? This page compares Bright Cellars and Firstleaf side-by-side using my detailed ratings system. The ratings are based on my experiences with each club — including tasting the wine over multiple shipments.
Which is better, Bright Cellars or Firstleaf?
I much prefer Firstleaf to Bright Cellars. Both subscriptions sell private label wine, but I find the quality and variety at Firstleaf to be superior to that of Bright Cellars. Firstleaf is also more customizable than Bright Cellars and offers an upgrade to 12 bottles which gets you free shipping. See why.
What are the key differences between Bright Cellars and Firstleaf?
The biggest differences between Bright Cellars and Firstleaf are: Satisfaction guarantee, Number of bottles per shipment, Quality of wine, Price of wine, Educational materials, Convenience features, Giftworthiness
What are the key similarities between Bright Cellars and Firstleaf?
Bright Cellars and Firstleaf are quite similar in these areas: Cost per shipment
FYI: I find great wine deals so you don’t have to. To keep me on the hunt, I earn a commission when you buy wine based on my recommendations.
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|Do they ship to you?|
|AL AR AZ CA CO CT DC DE FL GA IA ID IL IN KS LA MA MD ME MI MN MO MT NC ND NE NH NJ NM NV NY OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN VA VT WA WI WV WY||AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DC DE FL GA HI IA ID IL IN KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MO MT ND NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC OH OK OR PA SC SD TN TX VT VA WA WV WI WY|
This rating reflects all of the wine club elements below and is weighted for personalized wine clubs.
|2.7 stars||4.4 stars|
|Choose any: Red, white, or mixed||Choose any: Red, white, or mixed with an option to add rosé & sparkling|
|A selection from around the world, you don’t pick||Choose either or both: USA, International|
|What to know|
|Bright Cellars is an algorithm-based personalized wine club where you have limited ability to intervene in the selection. Their point system is designed to say how good of a match a wine is for your palate.
Their customer service has always been excellent and friendly. You can work with them to apply some limits to your matches (for example, "never send me Merlot.").
I wasn’t impressed with any of the wines I received and compared to other personalized wine clubs, the wine is too expensive for what you get. The membership seems overly focused on beginning wine drinkers and doesn’t accommodate more experienced wine lovers very well.
|Firstleaf is an algorithm-based personalized wine club where you have limited ability to intervene in the selection. By delivering a range of wine grapes, regions, and styles, Firstleaf is always a top contender for a personalized wine subscription.
One of Firstleaf’s strong suits is their huge breadth of inventory. There are hundreds of different wines available at any time, increasing the odds you’ll get something you like.
Firstleaf relies heavily on slick marketing which says their wines all being award-winning, but this isn’t a good measure of a wine club.
|Best wine clubs|
The editorial lists where I include this wine club and its ranking on that list.
|This wine club is not on any lists|
This rating reflects the degree of personalization available, not how well I think they do at matching wines to my taste preferences. Why? Each service requires a number of shipments before they hone in on your tastes (usually at least 3 shipments) and the quality of the personalization is, well, personal. Some services might be really good at your tasting profile but terrible at mine (and vice versa). This is why I don’t rate the ability of wine clubs to personalize your selection, rather I share my own experiences and let you be the judge.
|3 stars||4 stars|
|Starting with a quiz during signup, Bright Cellars uses an algorithm to match your personal tastes. Their ability to match gets better over time, when you rate the wines you receive. You’ll need to contact customer service to swap out recommended bottles you don’t want to try.
The quiz does not ask you about your wine preferences, it asks about your chocolate, coffee, tea, juice, and non-wine preferences.
I found their automated systems did a terrible job recommending wine for me. After a chat with customer support, they made some tweaks to my profile and my matches improved.
|Starting with a quiz during signup, Firstleaf uses an algorithm to match your personal tastes. Their ability to match gets better over time, when you rate the wines you receive. If they recommend something you don’t want to try, you can swap out that bottle. You can make up to six swaps per shipment.
If you aren’t sure if you’re getting the most out of your Firstleaf subscription, you can ask for free help from a certified wine professional who can make changes to your settings behind the scenes to enhance your experience.
I was never super impressed with the matching of the wines I received, but I recently re-took the quiz and found their recommendations to be much more spot on than my original results. I believe this reflects what they’ve learned from their previous customers.
|Number of Bottles|
Deal Save $40
Deal 6 bottles for $34.95
Deal 6 bottles for $34.95
|Bright Cellars (4 bottles)||Firstleaf (6 bottles)|
|Total Price per Shipment|
|Price per Bottle Including Shipping|
|Price per Shipment|
|Price per Bottle Before Shipping|
|Bright Cellars Wine Review||Firstleaf Wine Review|
|Quality of Wine|
This rating reflects how the wine is sourced and produced, as well as how it compares to similar wine clubs.
|1 stars||3.5 stars|
|Bright Cellars’ wines are "private label" of generally poorer quality to less-expensive wine clubs. They offer a broad range of styles and wine regions, and the quality from each area varies slightly.||Firstleaf wines are "private label" of generally equal quality to similarly-priced wine clubs. They offer a broad range of styles and wine regions, and the quality from each area varies slightly. While they claim their wines are award-winning, I believe this is a misdirection as these competitions are not comprehensive.|
|Price of Wine|
|1 stars||3.5 stars|
|As Bright Cellars wines are private label or exclusive, prices can’t be verified. The wine seems overpriced, based on my experience with less-expensive wine clubs.||Firstleaf wine club wines are private label or exclusive so prices can’t be verified. The wine seems appropriately priced, based on my experience with similarly-priced wine clubs.|
This rating reflects the quality of the club’s satisfaction guarantee, not my guarantee of your satisfaction.
|2 stars||5 stars|
|The messaging here is mixed. Their Terms & Conditions says damaged or defective bottles may be refunded.
"While most items are not refundable, if you received a damaged or defective product, we may refund at our discretion if we are notified within 30 days of the order date. Please be aware that gift card purchases are non-refundable."
Their marketing page says otherwise: "Your delight is guaranteed. If you don’t love a bottle, we’ll send you a replacement."
|If you don’t like a wine you receive, you can contact customer service to get a credit applied to your account.
"If for any reason you’re not satisfied with a bottle, we’ll credit you for it, where legal. Just reach out to us at email@example.com within 30 days of delivery. We’ll credit you in the form of store credit for any disliked bottles! Please note - this excludes shipping charges."
|Customer Service Record|
This rating is a mix of my own experiences with their customer service team and general ratings from across the web over time.
|5 stars||4 stars|
|Bright Cellars has an impressive customer service record as recorded online and my own experiences with their customer service team were excellent.||Firstleaf has an impressive customer service record as recorded online. I subtracted two stars because I have had my own problems with not getting the wines I swapped out or getting a shipment right away when I wanted to wait for it. That said they always make it right without a fuss.|
This rating reflects how much information you get about the wine you receive.
|2 stars||3 stars|
|Bright Cellars includes a tasting card for each wine in your shipment. These cards have very basic information on them. Plenty of info for a beginner, but not helpful for anyone who wants to learn more about where the wine came from or how it was made.||In addition to finding information about each of your wines on the Firstleaf website, they also send out fun wine tasting cards for each wine in your box. They provide a limited view into the wine region and the grapes in the wine, but their other wine info is helpful: Body, Acidity, Sweetness, Fruit, and Tannins. They also offer generalized food pairing ideas and a place to put your own tasting notes.|
A subscription should be easier than shopping at the store. That means you have control over when and where deliveries occur and that it is easy to make changes to your account online.
|4 stars||5 stars|
|Choose a delivery date?|
|Skip a shipment any time?|
|Yes, skip shipments whenever you want||Yes, skip shipments whenever you want|
|Fully manage account online|
|Choose alternate delivery location|
|Get SMS delivery updates from the club|
|Get email delivery updates from the club|
|Email reminders before card is charged|
|Switch delivery frequency|
|Switch to deliveries every other month or quarterly||n/a|
|Get free shipping|
|n/a||Increase your shipment to 12 bottles and get free shipping. You’ll get two each of six different wines in each box.|
|Switch delivery frequency|
|n/a||Switch to deliveries every other month or quarterly, in addition to delivery on demand|
Good for Gifts?
|(5 stars)||(2.5 stars)|
|Electronic gift card||Electronic gift card|
|Yes. You can choose to send a gift box with a corkscrew to announce your gift ahead of time ($10), or you can send an email to notify your recipient on any day you choose.||Yes, an email is sent at time of purchase|
Review by: Jessyca Frederick |
After 14+ years trying 1000+ of bottles from 100+ different wine clubs, I know what it means to be a wine club worth joining. My reviews can help you find a great wine club for you (or to give as a gift) at any budget and for any wine preference.
Feel free to ask me for a personal recommendation. I won't harvest your email address for a marketing list — I don't send marketing emails.