Holiday Wine Gift Guide

Wine Access

Wine Access

What is Wine Access? Wine Access is among the best online wine stores. Since 2007, their amazing wine team has toiled to select unique, hard-to-find wines to feature on their site. They currently also curate several unique wine subscriptions, provide detailed stories about every wine they carry, and create extensive online video content to help their customers learn about wine. Wine Access is also an official partner of the MICHELIN® Guide.

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.

Helpful Links

I am a big fan of Wine Access. There are so many wonderful things about this company which only sells wine online — I’ll try to cover them all here.

The Wine at Wine Access

It’s easy enough to say something to the effect of “Wine Access sells hard-to-find wines,” which their name implies, but this would downplay the level of curation which goes into their wine selection. A general statement: “Wine Access sells premium quality wine from around the world, from winemakers and wineries worth knowing about” is another way to describe it. But here are the things about the wine at Wine Access that you can’t convey in an elevator pitch.

The MICHELIN Guide

MICHELIN wines at Wine Access

When it comes to wine, Wine Access is THE official partner of The MICHELIN Guide. This partnership bolsters relationships between the wine team and MICHELIN-starred restaurants. The wine staff at these lauded restaurants work with Wine Access to curate wine you can buy. There are two ways to get this wine: through the MICHELIN Wine Club (at Wine Access) or by shopping the following restaurant wine collections at Wine Access:

NDA Wines

A selection of NDA wines at Wine Access

If you don’t run in the business world, you may not be familiar with the acronym NDA (it stands for Non-Disclosure Agreement) and they’re routinely used to help keep corporate secrets, well, secret.

Wine Access leverages their relationships with local winemakers and growers to create a few of their own brands, their NDA Wines, all offering wines produced from grapes where the vineyards, wineries, or winemakers won’t allow their association with these brands to be disclosed, lest the association with such an affordably-priced wine damage the reputation (and future exorbitant pricing) of the protected entity.

For each of their NDA wines, hints are dropped about which vineyards might have been the source and stories are told about how Wine Access got their hands on the grapes or finished wine. A pessimist might call these “leftovers” or “rejects”; I prefer to call them a bargain.

Here are a few highlights:

Shop NDA wines at Wine Access.

Back Vintages

I cover a lot of subjects in my Useful Guide to Aged Wine, but my personal favorite topic is back vintages. When a wine is first released by a winery, it’s called the “current release.” When the next new release comes out, that earlier one is now a “back vintage.”

What constitutes a back vintage in any given year varies wildly — white wines are typically released within a year of production, red wines within one to three years, and some places in the world like Rioja or Barolo keep their wines in barrel up to a decade before they find a home in a glass bottle.

Between regional and stylistic variations, and the fact that these wines are no longer “current,” it’s rather difficult and inconvenient to shop for them, online or at your local wine stores. Another pain point for buying older wines is that the tasting notes were almost always written when the wine was first released and don’t reflect how it has aged since bottling (kind of important since the whole reason we age wine is to enjoy how it changes over time).

Wine Access not only carries a variety of intriguing back vintages of wines, they release their own contemporary tasting notes when they list the wine on their site. This makes them the #1 place to buy older wine online, where you get perfect provenance (confirmation that the wines have been properly stored since release), as well as updated aging recommendations. Shop wines including and older than the 2016 vintage at Wine Access.

Buy Now Ship Later at Wine Access

In addition to a regular inventory of amazing wines, Wine Access also does “Flash Sale” style limited time offers. You can shop all of the current Limited Time Offers on their site, or via email if you want to be the early bird who gets the worm — these wines are usually only available in limited quantities.

Maybe you really want one or two wines but you don't want to pay for shipping (which they offer for free on orders over $150)? They’ve introduced a new “Buy Now, Ship Later” option. Now you can load up your box one or two bottles at a time and ship when it makes sense… Sort of.

SommSelect introduced this feature a while back and they charge you a monthly fee of $10 to use this service. You can ship however many wines you want, when you want.

Wine Access took a different approach: ship your wines when your order reaches $150 OR 30 days after you first add wines to your box. Once you reach the $150 free shipping threshold, you’ll choose a delivery date and they’ll ship your wines. They do not charge for this feature. Get the full details.

Other Ways to Shop Wine at Wine Access

Buy Now Ship Later at Wine Access

Wine Access is a pioneer in ecommerce for wine. They’re not the first, but they try new things. One of my personal favorite features of their wine store is the ability to filter their collection by its flavor profile (wine is, after all, ultimately about how it tastes).

You can choose from Very Low to High for the following characteristics: Fruit, Oak, Body, Sweetness, Tannin, and Acidity. My friend who recently discovered he can define his wine preference by “acidic reds” can now shop a palate-perfect selection of wine.

They also let you search by critic, not just by how many points the wines have earned, but from whom. This is super useful for someone like me who generally likes what Jeb Dunnuck does, but not so much what Robert Parker does.

Their other classifications include: Rare Allocations, Italian Steals, Crisp Whites, Michelin Staples, Top Values, and The Icons (a Who’s Who of the wine world). Shop the whole selection at Wine Access.

Proper Wine Service at Wine Access

One of the many reasons Wine Access stands out as a place for serious wine lovers to buy their wine online is the level of service they employ.

First, they are very careful about all of the shipping — both the shipping from the winery to the Wine Access warehouse, and from the Wine Access warehouse to you.

“There are many threats that the shipping process brings to wine, from flavor-damaging exposure to light and heat, to the possibility that the wine in the bottle isn't actually the wine on the label. It's easy to turn a blind eye to the importance of top-quality shipping practices, and most retailers do in order to save time and money. But at Wine Access, we know it doesn't matter how remarkable a wine is if it doesn't arrive in perfect condition.

Every day and with every bottle (no matter the price), we take the extra steps necessary to ensure every wine shipped from Wine Access HQ is a bottle you can trust 100%.” Read more at Wine Access

Second, Wine Access has the best satisfaction guarantee I’ve ever seen from a wine retailer — ”If any wine fails to impress, we'll credit that bottle.” Most will merely credit damaged or cork-tainted wines.

The Wine Team at Wine Access

Wine Team at Wine Access

Many of the superlatives used to describe Wine Access start with its wine team — they are, after all, the means by which all of these amazing wines get selected.

Helmed by Master of Wine Vanessa Conlin (a credential bestowed worldwide to only 498 people since 1953). This is the credential made famous by the Somm movie series. The next heavy-hitter on the team is Sur Lucero, a Master Sommelier, is only the 14th person to pass all three sections of that exam on the first try.

Also tasting through some-odd 20,000 wines per year in the pursuit of greatness: an Advanced Sommelier, a sommelier who digs sake, and a Master of Wine candidate. Discover their wine team

Wine Access Wine Clubs

In addition to an exceptional line-up in their online store, Wine Access also manages several different wine subscriptions. Some are their own and some are in partnership with prestigious third-parties like Decanter Magazine, Sunset Magazine, and the MICHELIN Guide.

In all cases, the selections in the wine clubs come from “producers” (wineries) that meet rigorous standards and offer consistent quality from vintage to vintage and wine to wine. I mention this because when you join one of these wine clubs, you’re learning about producers you can then further explore on your own, confident you’ll be purchasing good wine. This is sort of one of those open secrets of the professional wine world, pay attention to the producer before the region, grape, or vintage.

Each wine comes with a useful tasting sheet outlining the story of the wine (why it was chosen), its general flavor profile (fruit intensity, oak intensity, body, sweetness, and acidity), serving and cellaring information, food pairing suggestions (not recipes), and on the back, a guide to help you make useful tasting notes of your own.

Wine Access members receive discounted wines in their shipments, 10% off all other Wine Access purchases, and access to wine concierge services (they’ll help you find special wines you’re looking for). For all clubs, shipping is included, sales tax is extra where applicable.

The Wine Access Subscriptions

Discovery Wine Club by Wine Access

Discovery Club — A budget-friendly club, this subscription is aptly named. The wines selected for this club help you learn about wines from around the world — different grapes, wine regions, and producers. $150 for six different bottles, delivered quarterly. Choose between a mix of red and white wine, all red wine, or all white wine.

Save $25 on each of your first two shipments when you sign up for an ongoing subscription. No coupon code needed, discount automatically applied at checkout when you use my links.

Read my Discovery Club review, shop it, or give it

Connoisseurs Wine Club by Wine Access

Connoisseurs Club — Whether for weekend wines or because you’re starting to get serious, the Connoisseurs Club at Wine Access is a great place to start. You’ll discover the world’s most talked-about wineries and winemakers from around the world — all highly-rated wines worthy of their price tag.

$150 for two different red wines, delivered quarterly. Note: this is an average price and it’s not unusual to get one wine in the $35-50 range while the other is in the $75-125 range.

Exclusive discount: Save $25 on each of your first two shipments when you sign up for an ongoing subscription. No coupon code needed, discount automatically applied at checkout when you use my links.

Read my Connoisseurs Club review, shop it, or give it

Collectors Wine Club by Wine Access

Collectors Club — This club ships the creme de la creme of the wine world. Typically only one bottle per shipment, the “rare and coveted showpiece selections” cost between $250-400 and are shipped quarterly. Expect “classed-growth Bordeaux estates, Grand Cru Burgundy Icons, cult Napa Valley producers, estate-aged library wines, exclusives never available at standard retail outlets, and more.” These wines speak for themselves.

Exclusive discount: Save $25 on each of your first two shipments when you sign up for an ongoing subscription. No coupon code needed, discount automatically applied at checkout when you use my links.

Shop it or give it

Champagne Club by Wine Access

Champagne Club — A brand new wine club from Wine Access, this one ships only Champagne (real Champagne, no sparkling wine). It ships “Grower Champagne” (the equivalent of “Estate Bottled” here in the US, it means the entity that grew the grapes also made the wine, usually a small family with generations of Champagne experience) and wine from big Champagne houses, but it will be one of their special cuvées (blends) or a vintage wine, nothing you’d find readily elsewhere.

$200-250 for four different Champagnes, delivered quarterly. Save $25 on each of your first two shipments when you sign up for an ongoing subscription. No coupon code needed, discount automatically applied at checkout when you use my links.

Exclusive discount: Save $25 on each of your first two shipments when you sign up for an ongoing subscription. No coupon code needed, discount automatically applied at checkout when you use my links.

Read my Champagne Club review, shop it, or give it

Unfiltered Wine Club by Wine Access

Unfiltered Podcast Club — This subscription doesn’t ship unfiltered wines, it is the wine club companion for the Wine Access podcast named Unfiltered. This club debuted this year with Season 2 of the podcast, and is meant to drink along with listening. They’re already several episodes into the season (as of November 12, 2022) so you won’t get the whole experience. $120 for four bottles, delivered every other month. If you like it, they’re planning to continue the club to Season 3 of Unfiltered.

Exclusive discount: Save $25 on each of your first two shipments when you sign up for an ongoing subscription. No coupon code needed, discount automatically applied at checkout when you use my links.

I have listened to the podcast and I recommend starting there (available wherever you get your podcasts). If you prefer to watch the podcast, you can do that, too on the Wine Access YouTube channel. Shop it or give it

The Subscriptions with Partners

Michelin Wine Club by Wine Access

MICHELIN Wine Club — As noted earlier, Wine Access is the official wine partner of The MICHELIN Guide, the entity which bestows the restaurant world’s greatest honors, their stars. This partnership affords Wine Access all kinds of interesting opportunities and tie-ins, but one of the best ones is the MICHELIN Wine Club.

Each shipment features a different MICHELIN-starred restaurant and is a collaboration between the wine team at Wine Access and the team at the featured restaurant. In addition to an interesting selection of wines that are either on the menu at the restaurant or could be, you also get a MICHELIN-level meal pairing idea (not usually recipes) and other special extras, like a behind-the-scenes look at the kitchen and how the restaurant chooses its pairings.

Save $25 on each of your first two shipments when you sign up for an ongoing subscription. No coupon code needed, discount automatically applied at checkout when you use my links.

Read my Michelin Wine Club review, shop it, or give it

Decanter Magazine Wine Club by Wine Access

Decanter Magazine Wine Club — Perhaps not as well known in the US as it is abroad, Decanter Magazine is a publication for connoisseurs. Like most wine magazines, they review and rate wines, create lists of the best wines, and otherwise wax poetic about all things fine wine. There are two options for the Decanter Magazine wine club based on price, but both feature wines the magazine has given their imprimatur, whether through a rating or inclusion in a Top Wines list. Delivered five times per year (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Holiday, and Winter):

Everyday Excellence — A look at how top-scoring wines aren’t necessarily super pricey, this club is curated to make excellent wine an everyday occurrence. $160-200 for six bottles. shop it, or give it

Rare Luxuries — Another way to enjoy the world’s best wine via Wine Access, these ultra luxe wines are $475-525 for six bottles. shop it, or give it

Exclusive discount: Save $25 on each of your first two shipments when you sign up for an ongoing subscription. No coupon code needed, discount automatically applied at checkout when you use my links.

Read my Decanter Magazine Wine Club review.

Michelin Wine Club by Wine Access

Sunset Magazine Wine Club — This is a really great wine club for the budget-conscious foodie who likes American wine. All of the other subscriptions at Wine Access feature wines from everywhere in the world, but this one focuses on California, Oregon, and Washington.

The editorial team at Sunset Magazine works with the wine team at Wine Access to create travel themes and food pairings for Sunset’s popular recipes.

I was incredibly impressed with the value this wine club, at $120 for six bottles, delivered quarterly.

Exclusive discount: Save $25 on each of your first two shipments when you sign up for an ongoing subscription. No coupon code needed, discount automatically applied at checkout when you use my links.

Read my The Sunset Magazine Wine Club review, shop it, or give it

Wine Access Gift Sets

Wine Access assembles — typically around the winter holidays — fun wine sets to give (to yourself or to someone else). This year’s gift sets are education-themed so you send or serve great wine to learn about alongside your holiday guests.

All sets are discounted below retail price and the price includes shipping.

Four Bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon from Around the World

$142.00 $223.00

Four Bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon from Around the World Buy This Gift

Five Bottles of Red Wine Highlighting Bordeaux Grapes

$145.00 $220.00

Five Bottles of Red Wine Highlighting Bordeaux Grapes Buy This Gift

Six Sparkling Wines to Learn About Different Ways to Bubble

$137.99 $166.00

Six Sparkling Wines to Learn About Different Ways to Bubble Buy This Gift

Explore Five West Coast Wines Where Wine Rules

$148.00 $161.00

Explore Five West Coast Wines Where Wine Rules Buy This Gift

Four Bottles Which Highlight Diverse Winemaking Methods

$118.00 $135.00

Four Bottles Which Highlight Diverse Winemaking Methods Buy This Gift

Discover the Loire Valley — Sommelier's Go-To for Great Wine

$88.99 $104.00

Discover the Loire Valley — Sommelier's Go-To for Great Wine Buy This Gift

Where can I send Wine Access wines and gifts?

Wine Access ships wine to Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming,