Wine Access Michelin Wine Subscription Review
In this review · What is Wine Access? · Wine Review · Membership Benefits · Who Should Join? · Gift Review
What is Wine Access?
WineAccess is an online wine store where the inventory is curated by a team of sommeliers and wine industry professionals. You can get a sense of how they think of wine by how they organize the site. Categories listed include:
- Rare Allocations: “Attainable only at the winery or top restaurants” like Williams Selyem Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Dragonette Cellars Radian Vineyard Pinot Noir (one of our household’s personal favorite wines), and Arnot-Roberts Vare Vineyard Ribolla Gialla.
- The Icons: “Legendary bottles from producers who define the art of wine” like Penfolds Grange, Silver Oak, Shafer, Kosta Browne, Château de Beaucastel, Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, Ornellaia, and Château Mouton Rothschild.
- Michelin Star Favorites: “The bottles somms can’t resist” like Favia, Billecart-Salmon, Longoria, Massican, Dalla Valle Vineyards, and Bollinger.
- Top Values: “Special occasion-worthy bottles at everyday prices” and interesting selection of wine all under $30.
- Limited Time Offers: “Preorders available for 72 hours, or until they sell out.” It’s essentially a flash sale where certain wines are brought in for a quick promotion.
- Also: Last Chance (less than a case remaining) and Member Favorites
Why a Michelin Wine Subscription?
Wine Access has long maintained a good working relationship with the sommeliers at Michelin-starred restaurants, even going so far as to sell wines recommended by these starred restaurants on their website. Even more, Wine Access is the official wine provider of the MICHELIN® Guide. This means that whenever they have a wine-related need, whether for an event or for an article they write, they turn to the Wine Access team.
Another level of partnership with Michelin was conceived during the first COVID-19 quarantine which shuttered restaurants across the country. In October of 2020 Michelin hosted a virtual “Family Meal” — a tradition in many restaurants where the whole staff gathers to to sit and eat together before food service begins — to bring attention to the new creative restaurant talent discovered in 2019 and early 2020. Wine Access provided the wines paired with dishes from three-star Single Thread in Healdsburg, California.
A few more events with other acclaimed Michelin-starred restaurants like Sons & Daughters in San Francisco and Daniel Boulud in New York led the Wine Access team to expand the concept into a wine subscription which brings the Michelin experience to your door. Some of the early shipments include: Per Se (New York City), Jônt (Washington D.C.), Californios (San Francisco), Tail Up Goat (Washington D.C.), Topolobampo (Chicago), Temporis (Chicago), and Pinch Chinese (New York). Together they’ve created a unique Michelin-level wine experience you can enjoy at home.
How does the Michelin Wine Subscription work?
Five times each year (Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Holiday) you’ll receive a shipment of four wines curated by a Michelin-starred restaurant and the Wine Access team. Each shipment costs between $160 and $200, but shipping is always included.
The focus here is on how the wines pair with food — not just any food, but the most inspired recipes in the world. Unfortunately you don’t get Michelin-level recipes to cook at home and enjoy with your wine, but you do get suggestions based on what those wines are paired with at the featured restaurant. For example, I received a Piedrassasi Petterson & Sebastiano Syrah and the pairing suggestion was Barbacoa Tamales with Salsa Roja.
In the interest of not being misleading, only some of the wines you receive are actually served in the featured restaurant. Rather, according to Vanessa Conlin, Head of Wine at Wine Access, “They are always producers and styles that the wine director is passionate about and endorses.” Wine Access “works directly with the wine director by having conversations about their menu and the wine list to identify four wines or wine styles that best represent the types of wines [the restaurant features] most based on their palate and the cuisine.” The next step is for Vanessa to find the right wines that fit the agreed-upon profile, and then send them to the wine director for approval (hopefully something they love). The process is iterative.
In addition to the legwork of finding and sharing these fascinating wines, Vanessa does video tasting notes (on YouTube) for each shipment. You can taste along with this Master of Wine as she offers tips and trivia about the wine region, winemaker, vineyard, and more. Note: you don’t need to be a member to access these videos and the amazing Wine Access YouTube channel.
To entice you to try their service, they offer a $25 discount on each of your first two subscription shipments. No coupon code is needed, just click here to get the deal.
About this Michelin Wine Subscription Review
The Wine Access Michelin Wine Subscription is a relatively new wine subscription and so far I have only reviewed one shipment of four wines. I am still actively reviewing their service and most recently received a shipment in May of 2021. This review incorporates my Michelin Wine Subscription experiences and my experience with more than 100 other wine clubs.
Any wine subscription service is about more than just the wine and this review covers all aspects of the service. The key things I look for in a wine club are: How was the wine sourced? Is the wine selection personalized or curated? How often does it ship? How well does the company communicate about shipping and billing? Do they offer a satisfaction guarantee? Are the shipment sizes and wine selection flexible?
I also examine what kind of wine education they offer with their bottles and whether or not a service is set up for good gifting. These aspects are not core to a wine club being worthwhile, but they are important for many would-be members.
My own personal story that relates to this Michelin Wine Subscription concept, and why I’m so excited about it, goes like this. My husband and I were in New York to celebrate our wedding anniversary and we went to lunch at Le Bernardin (I’m a total Eric Ripert fan girl). It’s the only time I’ve been to lunch in a Michelin-starred restaurant and the place seemed to be swarming with sommeliers.
When our somm arrived, I explained I wanted to order a glass of white wine, told him what I liked, and he told me that he was (at the time) super jazzed (probably not the words he used) about a wine from the Jura which went against tradition and topped off their barrels to prevent the wine from achieving the region’s trademarked oxidative style (I didn’t know anything about any of that until he explained it to me). I fell in love with the wine — 2015 Domaine du Pélican Arbois Savagnin Ouillé — and even ordered some when I returned home after the trip. I so very much miss this experience and felt like I was able to relive it a bit through this shipment of Wine Access’ Michelin subscription.
Michelin Subscription Wine Review
My Wine Access Wine Ratings
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|Price of Wine|
When you drink through a curated selection such as these, you’ll find not everything is right in the sweet spot for what you like to drink. Unlike a wine club whose goal is your satisfaction, this subscription’s goal is to bring you what the world’s best sommeliers are excited to drink and pair with their chefs’ creations.
The wines I received were all excellent quality wines, unique in character and worth the experience. It was fascinating to see how some of the menu items at the San Francisco restaurant Californios are paired with wines and fun to try the wines in that context. My specific notes are below.
Paul Launois Blanc de Blancs Composition #3 NV Champagne
100% Chardonnay from France
Wine Access regular price: $47
Video tasting notes for this Champagne
Paul Launois is a grower-producer Champagne house in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger — Champagne’s most elite Grand Cru, home to Salon and Krug.
It’s hard to imagine a more food-friendly Champagne — it was super dry with tiny bubbles. The persistent flavors for me were the hallmark brioche and a bit of chalkiness.
At Californios, beverage director Charlotte Randolph often greets guests with this Champagne before they begin their tasting menu. The suggested pairing was a Black Truffle Chicharrón with Tsar Nicoulai Caviar and Chive Mousse… not exactly something you’re likely to prepare for yourself at home, but fun to dream about.
2014 Kuentz-Bas Riesling Grand Cru Geisberg
100% Riesling from Alsace, France
Wine Access regular price: $50
Video tasting notes for this Riesling
Riesling is known to be a white wine which can age for a long time. Sweeter-style wines made from riesling typically age longer. This aged riesling is made from Demeter-certified biodynamic grapes on 70-year old grapevines.
This 2014 riesling was dry, but with a hint of sweetness in the finish. I had not tasted an aged riesling before and was enamored with the complexity, richness, and structure (and really wished I had another bottle).
At Californios, this wine was paired with their Infladita (a tortilla filled with air, which is allowed to harden in its balloon-like state, and then is filled with a variety of meats or cheeses). The pairing isn’t specifically named, but the accompanying description indicates it was stuffed with uni (sea urchin) and guajillo chiles. (Yum)
2018 Francine & Olivier Savary Chablis
100% Chardonnay from Burgundy
Wine Access regular price: $23
Video tasting notes for this Chablis
If you’re unfamiliar, Chablis is Chardonnay, but it is not like a California Chardonnay — it’s typically minerally, unoaked, and pairs well with almost anything. Randolph said “Every sommelier has a nice Chablis up their sleeve. Now your members can, too.”
The Savary was no exception with scents of apple, chalk, and a fresh energy that delivered subtle pear notes.
I found this Chablis delightful with our favorite vegan dinner — grilled zucchini, hummus, spinach, red onion, and tomato on a wheat pita-like flatbread, but I sure would like to have tried it with Californios’ Tres Frijoles.
2017 Piedrasassi Petterson & Sebastiano Vineyards Syrah
100% Syrah from Sta. Rita Hills, California
Wine Access regular price: $53
Video tasting notes for this Syrah
It’s no surprise that a wine produced by iconic winemaker Sashi Moorman and renowned Sommelier Rajat Parr would end up in the Michelin Wine Subscription on the recommendation of yet another somm.
I am intimately familiar with Sashi Moorman’s Syrahs from Stolpman Vineyards and have also tasted at Piedrasassi’s next door neighbor, Domaine de la Cote, so I was pretty stoked to find this gem in the Michelin shipment.
There’s nothing subtle about a Moorman Syrah and the complex flavors of cherry, plum, and spice are what keep critics and wine lovers delighted.
Californios pairs this bold red wine with their Barbacoa Tamales with Salsa Roja. The smokiness of Barbacoa would pair beautifully with the plum and spice flavors in this Syrah and my mouth is watering as I type this.
The Pros & Cons of the Michelin Wine Subscription
My Wine Access
- Access to collections of wine curated/approved by Michelin-starred sommeliers
- Insights into how the world’s best somms pair their chefs’ creations
- Membership benefits include free shipping and 10% off any purchase at Wine Access
- Tasting videos with Master of Wine Vanessa Conlin for every wine in the shipment
- No recipes to make on your own, which seems like a big oversight given the Michelin tie-in
Who should join the Wine Access Michelin Wine Subscription?
For anyone enamored with the dedication and creativity of the world’s Michelin chefs, this bit of access is a special treat. Most of us don’t eat at these amazing restaurants too often, or ever, but this subscription provides a piece of the experience at home.
If you want to splurge on a wine club in a way that will expand your horizons and deliver food-friendly wine, this is the one to try. There are no customizations for this subscription so picky drinkers may not be a good fit.
Michelin Wine Subscription as a Gift
The Michelin Wine Subscription is not set up for gift-giving so I don’t recommend it as a gift. You can sign up for a membership and put it in someone else’s name, but there won’t be any gift presentation and you’ll need to remember to cancel when you’ve spent what you intended to. That said, if it’s a gift for your significant other… This is a great one.