With bars and restaurants around the world either closed or operating on significantly restricted schemes, online sales of wines are currently booming.
Which leaves the question, what wines should you order?
Off course, you could simply re-stock on those you already know and like. But what about discovering new wines – which in normal times you would likely do going to the wine country, tasting wines on-site guided by knowledgeable staff at the wineries.
If you are looking for alternative ways to discover new wines and learn more about wine, wineries and wine regions in general, joining a wine club or wine membership is a great alternative.
In fact, joining a wine club is a fantastic way to get immediate access to a large range of wines from around the world delivered to your doorstep as well as constantly enlarge your wine knowledge.
What are the benefits joining a wine club
- If you want to discover new wines on a regular basis without having to go out and find them yourself, wine clubs will provide you with a large range of different wines from all over the world.
- Becoming a wine club member will help to increase your wine knowledge: Wine clubs are much more than simply a place selling and delivering wines to their customers. Along with your regular wine delivery, you will also receive detailed information on each of the wines send to you, including tasting notes and wine profiles. In many cases, information about the winery and winemaker will also be provided.
- Get access to rare and exclusive wines: Most wine clubs will source their wines following a strict process of quality control. This includes visiting wineries to taste the wine and learn more about production and the winemaker. As a wine club member, you can therefore be sure to receive only the best wines (in your respective price category, more on this later).
- Wine club members will typically get early or exclusive access to new wine releases or vintages with small production batches. Many wine clubs also offer access to wines that are otherwise not sold through retail stores.
- In most cases, a wine club membership means you will a discount on the regular price. Depending on the specific wine club, the frequency of new shipments and how many bottles you receive, wine club members can often expect discounts of 20-30%.
- As a wine club member, you might also get access to dedicated wine blogs, online tutorials, videos from the winemakers and other material specifically crated for the wine club.
- If you are a club member with a specific winery, your membership will also include invitations to events and exclusive tastings at the winery. In addition, you will get discounts on events open to the public like harvest parties.
How does a wine club membership work
Becoming a wine club member can mean two things, depending on the sort of wine club you choose.
Firstly, you could become a wine club member with a specific winery. This will give you the privilege to know about new releases before the wider public as well as early – and sometimes exclusive – buying privileges.
On the downside, signing up with a specific winery means you have only access to this winery’s wine range. Since you will likely be obliged to either buy a certain number of wines or to spend a minimum amount per year to remain a member, you will likely not have many of these memberships and therefore stick to a limited range of wines.
Secondly, and this is likely the more interesting option, you could join one of a growing number of wine club memberships who work as a platform sourcing wines from different wineries around the world.
In this case, your regular delivery will each time include different wines sources from different wineries.
How to choose which wine club to join
Today, there is an almost endless list of wine clubs to chose from. Thus, the big question is, which one is the best for you?
Unsurprisingly, there is no straight answer to this question. Wine clubs are not structured equally. What you get from a subscription and how much you have to pay varies quite significantly from wine club to wine club.
It very much depends on your own expectations, preferences and personal taste to determine if a wine club is a good match for you. Therefore, it is quite difficult to determine what the ‘best’ wine clubs are.
However, here are a couple of points you should look out for to find the wine clubs most suited for you.
- Is the wine club giving you the opportunity to specify your preferences, thus sending you wines that align with your taste? Or will they control the selection of wines, which could mean shipments could include types of wines you are not too keen on?
- Is the wine club focusing on international or regional wine offerings? There are many wine clubs that will provide you with a range of international wines. However, there are also many that will focus on specific regions or types of wine only. That could be a particular country, like wines from Italy or wines in a specific category like bold red wines, quality wines of a specific price range, etc.
- How much you are prepared to pay. Subscription costs can vary widely, from somewhere around $40 per delivery to more than $150 per delivery. In addition, check if a wine club membership includes any other fees as well. This could be anything from a fee for signing-up to the club in the first place, an additional annual membership fee on top of what you spend on the wine delivery?
- Will the delivery be monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or can you choose between different options?
- How many bottles will you receive with each delivery? Again, is there an option to choose the number yourself?
- What are the cancellation policies? Many wine clubs will give you the opportunity to cancel after the first year. However, there are also a couple of clubs that will let you cancel your subscription monthly or quarterly (which will be typically aligned with the delivery frequency).
Six great wine clubs worth joining
Wine Month Club
Wine Month Club is a wine club that is dedicated to high quality boutique wines from around the world.
The wine club will give you the opportunity to sign-up for one of four different wine club offerings. All four will provide you with a range of rare wines from award-winning boutique vineyards on a monthly basis.
You will receive two bottles each month with the option to choose between only white or red wines or a bottle of each.
Prices for the subscription are different for each of the four options and at the time of writing start at around $50 (incl. delivery) for the least expensive up to around $85 for the most expensive.
Blue Apron Wine
You might be familiar with the name and you are right. This is indeed a subsidiary from the well-known delivery service shipping recipes along with the required fresh ingredients to cook at home.
Just that with Blue Apron Wine instead of food you will get a selection of wine carefully selected from renowned wineries.
A particularity of this subscription is the size of the shipments, which includes a monthly delivery of six half litre bottles (instead of the more typical 750 ml bottles).
A personalization of your delivery, like getting only red, white or a mix of bottles is also possible.
Alongside tasting notes and information on the winery/winemaker there will also be wine pairing suggestions; and wines are indeed selected to compliment Blue Apron’s food delivery service.
On the downside, there is no flexibility on delivery frequency or the number of wines you receive per delivery. In addition, pricing is an average of around $10 per bottle for a 0.5 litre bottle at the time of writing plus additional delivery fees. Therefore, an annual subscription is relatively high.
California Wine Club
California Wine Club sources their wines from artisan wineries with small-batch production, following a strict selection process to assure only the best quality wines are included.
Wines come mainly from around California, but the club now also offers a subscription for wines from Oregon and Washington as well as international wines.
The club offers a good choice of personalization through different wine club ranges including a premier series featuring handcrafted award-winning wines from small family wineries, a signature series including the highest rates wines from California, an international series and several other choices. In addition, you can choose to receive only red or white wines, half-bottles only, two or four bottles per shipment and shipments any month, every other month or quarterly.
This is a great wine club to join for lovers of wines from California. However, unfortunately at the time of writing, the club only ships across the US.
This one is quite unusual. When you join Vinebox, you will get wines from around the world delivery by the glass.
Yes, that’s true. When you join the Vinebox wine club, you will receive nine different wines every quarter, each one equalling the quantity of a wine glass.
The wines will be hand selected from small boutique wineries across the world.
For the subscription, you can chose to receive sample for either one or two people, with the latter at a discounted price per person.
If you like a wine, you can also purchase full size bottles at a discount of 15%.
Unfortunately, Vinebox too currently ships across the US.
Wanderlust Wine Club
Wanderlust Wine Club is one of the few offering a ‘discovery box’ at a discount price to just test what you could expect to receive from your subscription.
For the formal subscription, the wine club offers three different levels (silver, gold and platinum wine) with an option to chose between 6 or 12 bottles each quarter.
The different levels are based on the exclusivity of selected wines with the most basic level focusing on good quality every-day wines going up to more rate and exclusive wines in the platinum level.
In addition to the quarterly shipments, they offer free invitations to their tasting events along with a 15% discount on any additional bottles purchased through the platform.
Cancellation of the subscription is possible at any moment, again giving you a great flexibility should you not want to continue.
Savage Vines offers monthly subscriptions for wines which are from small, independent winemakers focusing on organic and bio-dynamic wine made with minimal intervention and as little impact on the environment as possible.
The subscription, which starts from around £ 30 per month, can be tailored to include either red, white or a mix of both with an option to chose between 2, 3, 6 or 12 bottles per month. In addition, you will get tasting notes and information on the areas the wines come from.
The subscription can be cancelled monthly and thanks to the high flexibility in the numbers of wines you will receive, Savage Vines is a great subscription for new starters as you can just test if you like what you get.
Do you already have a wine club subscription? Which one and what has been your experience?