Joining a wine club is the best way to economically try a wide range of wines from all over the world. Members get exclusive access to a list of hand-curated vints delivered directly to their door every month or quarter. If you are curious about wine clubs, read this beginners guide to learn all you need to know. Find out what makes wine clubs so popular, the different types of clubs, and which club is the best choice for you.
Go into your local grocery store or wine shop and take note of the wine selection. Chances are, you will see the same labels in the next shop and the next – and so on. The fun of joining a wine club is in the unique vintners from which the selections are sourced. Unlike your local stores, wine clubs can afford to source bottles directly from individual small vineyards all over the world. You won’t see these wines in your local wine shop.
Why Should you Join a Wine Club?
Joining a monthly or quarterly wine club has some perks. For starters, you can rest easy in that your wine shelf will always be stocked with interesting selections to share with friends and family. And, when you find a selection that you particularly like, it is easily replenished. Most of all, wine clubs are about having fun in learning about, tasting, and deepening your appreciation for wine.
The variety of wines available with a club membership surpasses that of any local retailer. From the clubs website, you are able to browse the wine selections of the month and choose your desired combination. Some offer a hand-selected variety that is individualized for each members preferences.
What to Avoid
Beware of wine clubs that require long-term membership commitments. You might want to switch clubs at some point, so be sure you can get out of the membership hassle-free.
Shipping costs will, either, be included in your club membership fee, or they will be added on to your membership fee. If you don’t see the shipping cost clearly spoken for, that probably means it will appear on your bill as a surprise charge.
Wine Club Types
The type of wine club you join mostly depends on the size of your budget. They are typically categorized into three groups:
Entry-level Wine Clubs
Entry-level clubs, or budget wine clubs, are a great way to expand your wine knowledge and experience base without taking out another mortgage to pay for it. They provide a private label selection each month, and most bottles are under $15. Even though these clubs offer a more frugal selection, members still get to enjoy unique, delicious, international wines.
Many wines offered through entry-level clubs are white label wines. This means the wine comes from a large vineyard that contributes to big-label wines. These vineyards grapes are mixed with other vineyards grapes to make budget bottles and boxes of red and white blends. Through a wine club, the vineyard’s wine is simply labeled by the club. It is good wine, but it is not reviewed or rated since the private label is not commercially available.
Intermediate Wine Clubs
An intermediate club offers a higher quality wine selection for a slightly higher price per bottle. Members can expect to pay closer to $30 a bottle. However, the curation experience is noticeably more sophisticated.
Intermediate clubs only offer premium quality wines from reputable and officially rated wine labels. You will notice the difference in taste, too.
Wines are chosen by Master Sommeliers, who personally tests each month’s selections. For an additional fee, members can have their monthly order personally selected by the clubs, Sommelier.
Premium Wine Clubs
The top quality wine labels from all over the world are available through premium wine clubs. These clubs are perfect for those who appreciate fine wines and have a flexible budget. Wines cost around $50 per bottle, and up. But, the curation quality is bar-none.
Premium clubs feature wines from the best vineyards in France, Italy, California, and more. Some clubs offer bubbly and food pairings, as well.
Premium wine clubs offer the best savings for the quality of wine available. However, the savings come at a higher fee.
Great Wine Clubs
For a monthly or quarterly membership, wine clubs send a customized selection of wines directly to your door. Most clubs offer vints that are not found in stores. Wine clubs varietals can be customized specifically for drinking in-season. The club you choose will determine the overall quality, uniqueness, and cost of your membership. Here are some great wine club options:
● Wine Down Box
Wine Down Box is a great intermediate wine club for those looking to expand their pallet. The club offers premium quality wines with gourmet cheese pairings. Each month, members receive a bottle of limited production California wine, an artisanal cheese, charcuterie, gourmet crackers, and notes for the pairings.
A one-month subscription will cost around $70 including shipping. For longer subscriptions, the price decreases. A full 12-month subscription will save you around $150 annually. Wine Down Box is a perfect wine club if you enjoy an occasional glass.
● The Panel Wines
If you settle for nothing but the best, The Panel Wines is a perfect choice. It is a highly exclusive and premium wine club and offers some of the finest wines on earth. The selection process involves a team of sommeliers, winemakers, and industry experts who taste through dozens of finalists to determine each months wine selection. The team of judges chooses the final selections based on blind taste-tests, in which color, clarity, aroma, bouquet, taste, texture, and finish are assessed on a 20 point scale.
The smallest subscription costs just under $100 per month and includes three bottles of hand-curated wine. The intermediate membership is around $200 per month and includes three bottles which received the highest scores, and three limited production and cellar selection bottles. The Elite Club membership is around $300 per month and includes the top selections of rarest availability. The Panel Wines is a wine club for the most refined pallet.
Final Thoughts on Wine Clubs
There is a wine club for every pallet and budget. If you want to expand your knowledge and experience of wine, while trying some of the most unique and delicious wines in the world, wine clubs are a perfect solution. Feel free to leave comments and questions, and, don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter. Thanks for reading!