The Premier Series Review
Wine Club Overview & Details
Wine Club Rating:
This wine club is...
An old-school wine of the month club that has every detail buttoned down tight. If you want to discover affordable wines from around the world, and you want a reliable service to deliver them, the International Wine of the Month Club’s Premier Series is a great place to start.
What I Like
When I recommend a wine club gift (which is frequently), I often recommend this club. It’s a great mix of value and discovery, showcasing grapes and regions not typically found on the shelves at wine stores (and definitely not at big box stores).
With a wine club as established as this one, it’s hard to find an area that needs improvement, but times are changing and a two-bottle wine subscription is limiting. I’d like to see four- and six-bottle options for members.
- Very customizable
- Good mix of affordable and quality
- 100% satisfaction guarantee
- Only two bottles per month
- Shipping is extra
The Premier Series delivers to
AL AZ AR CA CO CT DE DC FL GA ID IL IN IA KS KY LA MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX VT VA WA WV WI WY
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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.
The Premier Series Review
What is The Premier Series from The International Wine of the Month Club?
Founded in 1994, MonthlyClubs.com offers a selection of gourmet subscription boxes including wine, beer, cheese, chocolate, flowers, and cigars. The International Wine of the Month Club is their wine club.
Among the four wine subscriptions offered by Int'l Wine Club — each offers two bottles of wine from around the world — The Premier Series is the most affordable. It is available as an ongoing subscription or as a gift membership (you choose the length of the gift and when you pay). Premier Series, like all of their subscriptions, comes with an industry-leading satisfaction guarantee.
Ways to Customize Your Premier Series Membership
The Premier Series Wine Club can be customized in a number of helpful ways, many of which contribute to the giftworthiness of this club (and the others from Int'l Wine Club). There’s a full evaluation of the club’s giftworthiness below, but in general, I strongly recommend this membership because of all the gift-related features.
|Wine selection: choose red wine or a mix of red and white (memberships which include white wine will occasionally receive sparkling wine or Champagne)||Yes||Yes|
|Delivery frequency: choose monthly, every other month, or quarterly shipments||Yes||Yes|
|Payment frequency: pay all at once or each time the wine ships||Each time||All at once or each time|
|Month to start shipments: choose any of the upcoming four months||Yes||Yes|
How much does The Premier Series cost?
Two bottles of wine are delivered for $56.95 per shipment — $41.95 for the wine plus $15 for shipping and handling (which likely costs the company more than $15). One of the great things about this company is the stability of their pricing. As everything has become more expensive, wine has not escaped unscathed. Even in the face of significant cost increases, Int'l Wine Club has only raised prices in small increments.
Premier Series membership benefits
My Premier Series
Satisfaction Guarantee. The single most important membership benefit of a wine club, whether it’s for yourself or someone else, is the Satisfaction Guarantee. It’s the biggest reason to consider joining a wine club in the first place, especially when compared with buying from any retailer (online or brick and mortar) where refunds don’t happen except sometimes for damaged bottles.
Int'l Wine Club offers a top-tier satisfaction guarantee:
"Our 100% satisfaction guarantee ensures that every item you purchase at The International Wine of the Month Club meets your high standards or we will replace it or refund your purchase."
What they really mean by “high standards” is “if you don’t like it for any reason.” This is a unique feature of wine subscriptions and customer-centric Int'l Wine Club does this well.
Discounts. I look at three areas when evaluating the discount opportunities offered by a wine club. Is there an introductory offer to sweeten the deal? Are there special discounts only available to members? Are there discounts available for buying more of the wines you loved in your shipments?
Int'l Wine Club does not have an introductory offer and doesn't offer members-only deals, but they do reward purchasing more than the minimum when you buy wine in addition to your regular shipments. There are two ways they offer “Buy More, Save More” discounts:
On gift subscriptions: the more shipments you buy, the more you save.
- Save $10 on any 4-shipment order with code SAVE10
- Save $15 on any 6-shipment pre-paid order with code SAVE15
- Save $30 on any 12-shipment pre-paid order with code SAVE30
- Tip: you can buy yourself a prepaid "gift" to take advantage of this discount
On wine orders: save two ways! Discounts are provided on both shipping costs and on the cost of the wine. Membership is not required to take advantage of these discounted prices.
- When you buy four bottles, you pay their regular bottle price and $15 for shipping ($7.50 each bottle)
- When you buy four bottles you save 7% off the wine and you pay $19 for shipping ($4.75 each bottle)
- When you buy six bottles you save 12% off the wine and you pay $24 for shipping ($4 each bottle)
- When you buy twelve bottles you save 15% off the wine and you pay $36 for shipping ($3 each bottle)
Wine education. What passes for wine education from most wine clubs is minimal these days. If all you want is to drink wine someone sends you, without any desire to learn about what makes that wine unique, that’s fine. But if you’re someone who is interested in learning a bit about the producers and the history of the regions featured, this club is a good choice.
Each wine comes with its own write-up called Cellar Notes. Each info sheet contains detailed tasting notes with serving recommendations, anticipated wine maturity, and suggested food pairings. Cellar Notes also contain a mix of history of the producer and the region, a recipe to try, and sometimes a tie-in to one of the other MonthlyClubs.com memberships (like one of their cheese clubs).
Continuity. In the 14 years I’ve been reviewing wine clubs, MonthlyClubs.com has been one of the most stable and reliable services I’ve worked with. The team is always accessible and helpful, because that’s what they value for their partners and their customers.
Premier Series Wine Review
My Premier Series
|Quality of Wine|
|Price of Wine|
The name offers a clue into what kind of wine they sell — wines from around the world — but it’s really only part of the story. International Wine of the Month Club chooses approachable wines. They focus on finding wines everyone can enjoy, so they tend to embrace food-friendly wines with no rough edges (bracing acidity, cloying sweetness, chewy tannins, high alcohol content, etc.)
They’re good at sourcing wines from medium-production wineries in lesser-known wine regions where you get more bang for your buck. They’re especially good at finding wines that aren’t on the shelves at many wine stores (much less big box stores or even fine grocers). I really appreciate this because I find it’s boring to see the same wine selection all the time.
Good value in wine
There are two ways I think about value when it comes to wine:
- Am I getting the wine at a big discount?
- Am I getting great wine that tastes like it should cost a lot more?
When you buy wine at a steep discount, sometimes you’re getting great value (because the wine was actually worth what the winery is asking at retail), but sometimes you’re getting wine that was marked up too much in the first place. Most of the time you don’t know which until you open the bottle and taste it.
When you get great wine that tastes like it should cost a lot more, usually sussed out by a sommelier or similar wine professional who knows a bargain when they taste one, that’s great value.
Here is an example. I recently tried a Chablis-style Chardonnay from Chile. It was exceptional and if I’d blind tasted this wine I might have assumed it came from Chablis. The difference is that it costs less than half of what a comparable Chablis would cost ($20 for the Chilean Chardonnay and $45-60 for Premier Cru Chablis).
Wines I’ve received from Premier Series
This section discusses wines I’ve received, but on the company overview page I go into detail about two really cool aspects of Int'l Wine Club: how they curate their wines and their online wine library.
I also received a shipment in 2014 which I did not photograph.
This is the most recent shipment of wines I received (December 2022).
Wine: 2021 Villae (Branco)
Blend: 40% Encruzado (Salgueirinho), 40% Bical (Borrado das Moscas), 20% Cerceal
Region: Dão, Portugal
Portugal is among the most underrated wine regions of the world, especially when looking for great wines at affordable prices. It’s an “old world” region so in general their costs are much lower (land, labor, and raw materials). Within Portugal there are more than a dozen major wine regions, with Porto & Douro being the most well known. Dão is an up-and-coming region punching above its weight.
This food-friendly white wine (branco is white in Portuguese) was light and refreshing. Int'l Wine Club’s description included “bracing acidity” but I found the acidity to be well-tempered. The grapes in the blend each contribute an important aspect: Encruzado contributes a unique “waxy” mouthfeel, Bical contributes stone fruit flavors like apricot and peach, and the Portuguese native Cerceal adds minerality and acidity.
Wine: 2021 Chenin Blanc
Blend: 100% Chenin Blanc
Region: Stellenbosch, South Africa
Chenin Blanc is one of my favorite white wine grapes. This grape — not related to Sauvignon Blanc — is famously grown in the Loire Valley in France, but more than half of the world’s Chenin Blanc under cultivation is in South Africa. You’ll also find it tucked into vineyards all over the “new world.” Its characteristic flavors include apple, peach, honey, honeysuckle, and jasmine. It’s typically a bright (medium-plus to high acidity) wine, balanced by a touch of sweetness.
This particular Chenin Blanc would be perfect for anyone who is new to the grape> Its floral and fruity characteristics are more subdued than others I’ve had (particularly those from California) and it’s still very food friendly. To review wine clubs I need to drink wines when they arrive, but I’d like to have revisited this wine in a couple of years to see how it’s aging in the bottle.
Winery: Bodega Renacer
Wine: 2019 Punto Final Reserva
Blend: 100% Cabernet Franc
Region: Mendoza, Argentina
While most red-wine loving Americans are familiar with Argentina for its ever-so-popular Malbecs, the country produces a variety of wines, especially other red Bordeaux varietals. Malbec is one of six Bordeaux red grape varieties — the others include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Carménère (often left off the list).
Cabernet Franc — a parent grape for both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot — is a grape that tastes different in each place it's grown, especially in warm climates vs cool climates, but also from vintage to vintage. In Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc is used as a blending grape. In “new world” regions, it is sometimes bottled on its own.
I personally tend to prefer my Cab Franc in a heavier-bodied, more fruit-forward style than this light one. Beyond my personal preferences, this was a nice, food-friendly red wine that anybody could enjoy but probably wouldn’t wow anyone because it lacked character or uniqueness.
Who should (and shouldn’t) join this club
When thinking about The Premier Series as a subscription (when you join for yourself) there are a few people for whom the club is a great fit, and a few for whom it’s not.
Buying your daily drinkers two bottles at a time is not economically efficient (the shipping costs alone erode any discount you may be getting). On the other hand, if you only drink a couple of bottles a month, this is a great way to ensure you get good quality wine that comes with a satisfaction guarantee.
If you tend to gravitate toward California wines and would like to branch out to an international selection, this is a great way to dip your toes in the water, so to speak. You’ll enjoy a survey of wines from around the world, and good quality bottles with typicity (they taste like the grapes they’re made of) so you come away knowing what you might like to try more of and what to avoid in the future.
This wine club is not suited to those who only want to drink organic or natural wines, anyone who wants rosé or sparkling wine on the regular, or those who prefer sweet wines. The wines included are dry red and white wines (or you can limit it to just red or just white).
How does The Premier Series compare to similar wine subscriptions?
All of the subscription options at The International Wine of the Month Club are curated. This means they are not customized to your palate (a personalized subscription) but instead all of their members receive a customized selection from the same pool of staff-picked wines each month. There are a few ways to compare Int'l Wine Club to other clubs.
Two- and three-bottle international wine clubs
Each of these options cost a bit more than Int'l Wine Club’s Premier Series but are worthy of consideration. Shipping is extra for all of these wine clubs.
International Series by The California Wine Club. Because their loyal customers appreciate discovering wines from small family wineries abroad (in addition to California), The California Wine Club offers a two-bottle subscription featuring boutique wines from around the world. In general, I recommend The California Wine Club because they have terrific customer service and a top-notch list of membership benefits.
If you’re buying for yourself, the price varies and averages $83 per shipment. If you’re buying a gift, the cost is fixed at $102 (mixed red and white wine) or $122 (red wine only) per shipment. Subscriptions and gifts add $21 for shipping and handling to most states.
Read my International Series review or shop it or give it
International Club from Gold Medal Wine Club. Like The California Wine Club, Gold Medal specializes in California wine but offers their members a similar experience with an international selection of wines. This is a three-bottle subscription with a Gourmet Adventure Package add-on if you want to enhance the wine experience with shelf-stable gourmet foods from the same region as the wines. Wine starts at $89.95 per shipment and the gourmet adventure package is $42 more. The shipping cost ranges from $14-21.
Read my International Series review or shop it or give it
Upgrades from Int'l Wine Club. It’s important not to overlook the more premium offerings from Int'l Wine Club when evaluating the Premier Series. They offer three other wine memberships. Their premium subscription is called Collectors Series and their Masters Series includes a mix of Premier level and Collector level wines (one each per shipment). They also offer a Bold Reds series for red wine lovers who like wines with a little more oomph.
Upgrade to six bottles of international wine
It’s more economical to get wine delivered in larger quantities. If you don’t drink that much wine, I recommend ordering larger quantities and having them delivered less often. Both of these recommendations include the cost of shipping.
Discovery Club by Wine Access. At $25 per bottle, this sommelier-picked selection of discovery-oriented wines is always a great deal. Wine Access has a great satisfaction guarantee, but you’re unlikely to need it for these wines which often grace the wine lists at nice restaurants. Choose red, white, or a mix. Delivered quarterly.
Read my Discovery Club review, shop it, or give it
Picked by Wine.com. A bespoke wine club where every wine is handpicked for you by a sommelier. You can customize this club to be anything you want, and you can change your preferences as often as you like. Choose any mix of red and white wine (or all of one color), your average price per bottle, and your shipment frequency. They have great tools for managing your account online. From $120 for six bottles.
Read my Picked by Wine.com review or shop it
Is The Premier Series a good gift?
Yes! I think The Premier Series from The International Wine of the Month Club is an excellent gift. It's an affordable choice that offers good quality. Here are the reasons I recommend it for gifting:
- You can customize several aspects of the membership to suit both your budget and your recipient’s wine drinking habits. The more months you give, the more you can save.
- They offer a great gift presentation. The bottles in the first shipment come wrapped in reusable organza gift bags and with a gift note from you.
- You can have an email notification of the gift sent on any day you choose or print out a customized note to present in person on the big day. Note: gift announcements are not automatically generated for orders placed on the Internet, you must set one up during checkout.
- Read more details about giving Int'l Wine Club on this page, including their Design Your Own Club feature.