(Part 1: Budget)
Wondering if you should join a wine club? Plot twist: There’s more to the decision-making process than loving wine! In fact, there are a lot of different factors to consider, and that’s why we’re here with a few top tips to simplify the process.
Although you might be envisioning a glamorous wine club in your neighborhood where you gather with friends to discuss books, politics, and anything else that makes us sound classy and pairs well with wine, the sad truth is that’s not accessible to everyone. Whether you live in a rural area, have a demanding life schedule (think work or young kids!) or you just can’t stand your neighbors, a local wine club might not be available. But the good news is that you can create your own (even if the only local member is you!).
Joining an online wine club is a great option that’s accessible to everybody, but it’s important to know how to find the right one for you. Although there are multiple factors which can affect your choice in a wine club, today we’re just going to explore the question of budget. All wine clubs are not created equal and budget is one of the main features which distinguishes the different types of wine clubs you’ll encounter.
So, with that in mind, it’s best to be informed and be honest with yourself about what you can afford (on a monthly basis) out of the gate. However, that doesn’t mean setting yourself up for disappointment! There’s a wine club out there for every budget- you just have to know what to look for.
1. If your budget is around $15/bottle
Don’t sweat it! Spending $15 per bottle is great and enables you to take advantage of a lot of deals on white label wines. (If you’re not familiar with that term, just know that it means “private label.” Think “Kirkland” branded wine from Costco). These wines are purchased in bulk from winemakers whose businesses are built on selling mass quantities of pre-made wine to be personalized by the retailer.
This means that the wines you’ll be buying are likely one-offs, not available anywhere else (or at least, not that you will know of), and you won’t be able to trace them back to their original makers and buy more.
Some great wine clubs for this budget include:
With super obvious branding (I feel like the name is kind of a hint…) and great deals on wine for under $20 a bottle, this club lets you choose your subscription based on the results of a personalized taste quiz. You’ll get four bottles of wine per month and you get to choose each month’s selections from your favorite reds, whites, and rosés. What’s not to love?!
Shockingly, specializing in more than just chicken, Blue Apron has a selection of tastefully curated (yet very underrated) wines. If you’re new to the wine scene and not so confident in your ability to choose well, you might try having your selections picked out for you by people who know what they’re doing and care about crafting quality wine. This option will give you five smaller bottles — as opposed to other clubs’ standard three or four full-size selections. In addition, you’ll get a few handy recipes and suggestions about which wine pairs well with which foods.
One of the best online retailers out there and, yes, they have a wine club. In fact, they have multiple wine clubs at varying price points and interests. Their “Best Buy Wine Club” starts at $19.95/month (excluding shipping) and, while it may be focused on their white label brand, Kalinda, it will definitely include a number of treasures from small producers that you may not be able to find easily in the States. For this option, you’ll usually get one preselected red and white wine.
2. If your budget is a little more flexible
For those who are willing to spend around $30 a bottle, your options can expand to include possibilities like membership in a curated wine club. (I know, it sounds so fancy!) This can give you a chance to experience a more personalized service– kind of like having your own Sommelier—that will happily challenge you to expand your palate.
Some awesome curated wine clubs to check out in this range:
Take a hint from its zany name (British slang for “cheap booze”) — this is a unique and fun club specially curated by Etty Lewensztain. You can expect to pay around $50 for two bottles, and you can choose your shipment to reflect your preferences by selecting options like red only, white only, or even get more specific by opting only to receive Cabernet, Pinot, or Sauvignon Blanc.
If you want to let your palate travel the world, The Grand Tour is a great place to start! Focusing primarily on the history and regions of its carefully curated selection, this is a wine club that will let you experience a new region every month. Although it offers less personalization than other curated online wine clubs — you won’t get to personalize the selection according to your preferred color or taste — you will get a highly unique shipment of four bottles for $95, along with wine maps that give you a little extra info about the region. So, if you’re looking for a club that offers a mini-vacation, a history lesson, and four bottles of wine, what are you waiting for?
Yes, SommSelect is not only a great flash sale website, but it also has an equally amazing wine club. Here, you’ll get four bottles pr month, curated by Master Sommelier, Ian Cauble, for $99 plus shipping. The focus is artisanal wine from small producers around the world and there is usually a theme each month. For example, “New World” vs. “Old World”, Sparkling Wine Style Spectrum, Volcanic Wines, and the infamous Bordeaux “Left” vs. “Right” Bank challenge.
If you need a little more space between your shipments and are up for something less conventional, try Vinebox. Deliveries are quarterly and run $79/quarter (including shipping). You won’t get bottles of wine but instead vials of wine, nine in total. Each vial contains a glass worth of wine. In addition, you will receive detailed information about the wines which highlight seasonal finds, wines you should be drinking right now, as well as more interesting experiences. Each shipment will also come with a $15 credit to purchase full-sized bottles of the wine you like.
3. If you’re feeling fancy
For those who want to spend over $30 a bottle and are willing to commit to a membership, the world is your oyster (or vineyard, I guess!) Here are a few of our top picks:
If you want your wine to ooze history and class, you can’t get much better than this subscription, personalized for you on a quarterly basis and hand-selected by the Sommeliers of the Biltmore Estate, a National Historic Landmark and the largest privately owned home in America. Originally built in 1895 and currently open today as a museum, the Biltmore Estate continues to maintain its historic vineyards. Membership entitles you to receive three bottles of wine four times a year (that’s twelve bottles you can look forward to!), each of which will be selected according to your tastes.
You can choose from the Red, White, Mixed, or Sweet wine club options (Rosé lovers should head straight for the latter!) and prices range from $35-$95 a bottle (shipping not included), depending on which membership option you choose. You’ll also get a great selection of seasonal and holiday wines with each shipment, in addition to tasting notes and recipes selected by the Estate’s top chefs.
For those who feel that wine tastes better when it’s exclusive, get ready to add your name to the long waiting list for the Viticole club! The project of Master Sommelier Brian McClintic, this subscription features an international curation of some of the most unique wines in the world. Starting at $105 per month without shipping, membership will provide you with up to three pre-selected bottles per month. Did we mention there’s a waiting list?
So, no matter what your budget looks like, remember there’s an online wine club out there for everyone — you just have to know what to look for and what suits you best. And luckily for you, you’ve got us at Wine Bounty! (I know, I know, we’re kind of awesome). Happy hunting!
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