So, you think you want to join a wine club.
There are lots of reasons. You seek wine exploration and experience, discounts and buying power, advice and reviews from professionals or you simply get overwhelmed with choices going into your local mega-liquor-mart. Now, you could be just lazy and wanting alcohol delivered so you don’t have to change out of your jammies, but since you’re reading this, we’ll assume you’re not.
Before you sign on the dotted line and start getting boxes filled with who knows what, ask yourself a few questions. What kind of wine do you like? How’s your willingness to experiment? How much can you afford? The answers will shape what type of club you are seeking.
As for types of clubs, there are a few options:
Wine Of The Month Club
These have been the standard for a long time and are what most people think of when discussing wine clubs. Generally, these clubs send out 1-2 bottles based on your desires and pre-determined themes. Themes are almost limitless; red, white, rosé, country, region, grape, blend, style, vintage, winery, price or rating. Most of these are operated by retailers or distributors trying to boost sales, expand their market and move product that might not move otherwise. That doesn’t mean the wine is sub-standard. On the contrary, many wines offered by these clubs are outstanding and budget friendly, just unknown. If you do your research, some of these clubs are superb for quality and value.
Case clubs are somewhat newer on the scene, but are backed by some major players. Wall Street Journal has a popular one, as does the New York Times. No, the newspapers don’t generally run these clubs. Instead, they partner with powerful national and international distributors to add name recognition and weight behind the operations. Most of these clubs ship quarterly and focus on value and experience over quality. They exist to move wine on a large scale. Again, that doesn’t make them bad. Put simply, if your palette isn’t overly discriminating, you don’t mind wines that few have heard of, tend to drink more than a couple bottles a week and don’t like to go outside, one of these clubs might just be perfect.
Winery Direct Clubs
These clubs are ideal for those who love the product of a specific winery. Since distributors take a healthy chunk of profit from the wineries to get them to local stores, many wineries are willing to discount wines that are bought directly from them. That gives the club member great prices and ability to taste everything that winery produces – even many rare, small batch and library wines. Most of these clubs also come with other perks; parties at the winery, behind-the-scenes opportunities and free tastings when you visit. These are also great for wineries that don’t distribute outside their local towns. Basically, if you dig their wine, join their club. The down sides are there can be a lack of variance and prices can fluctuate wildly.
Clubs we like:
Le Metro – A highly regarded and rated club. There are many options, shipped monthly or quarterly and the selections are well thought out. For most wine club seekers, there is much to like about this one.
WSJWine – Yep, the Wall Street Journal is probably the most popular case club out there. Their buying power means great prices on lesser known wines. They only have a couple choices and ship you a case every quarter.
Lot 18 and Club W – Sort of a wine club revolution, these clubs are born out of the tech and social media explosion. The focus on personalization, learning your tastes and shaping their club offerings to your desires. And they really want you to share your thoughts on Facebook.
So, ask yourself some questions. Figure out what kind of wine you want and and what you want to afford. Then, go hunting for a good club. Just make sure they ship to your state. Although there are many clubs out there, every state is different when it comes to personal alcohol delivery. They’re so untrusting.