Having been a member of over 100 different wine clubs, from small California wineries in Sonoma and Napa Valley to high-end international wine clubs from Italy and Spain, I’ve learned first hand which clubs are outstanding and which ones aren’t even worth mentioning. Below are the best wine clubs based on price, quality of wine, user experience, customer service, special introductory offer and money back guarantee.
The Best Wine Clubs Available Online
Are you interested in wine and want to branch out and try some from different regions? A wine club may be your best option. There are a lot of choices out there, each with a number of different benefits. I wrote about the best wine clubs a few years back, but the scene has changed at such a rapid rate that it was time to take another look at the clubs that are involved in this business. This review takes a look at nine wine clubs, each offering its own advantages to joining.
I investigated each thoroughly, asking about their shipping policies and whether or not they accept returns. Not all wine clubs are created equally. The best ones are open to communication from their customers. They want you to learn more about wine, putting newsletters and other information in with your packages. Also, there are some wine clubs that give you a certain percentage off your order if you are a repeat purchaser. Most let you cancel whenever you want. And, there are even a couple of wine clubs that let you send back wine that you don’t enjoy.
If your current club doesn’t offer any of the perks mentioned above, it may be time to look for a new club to join by reading up on the best wine clubs online. In particular, both International Wine of the Month and Gold Medal have a lot to offer their customers; they are great for those that are new to the wine scene and those that have a lot of experience. Still, it is important to note that every club is different and you will have a different experience with each. The information presented here is meant to help you make an informed decision when trying to figure out which club to join.
Gold Medal Wine Club
This wine club has been around for a long time, more than two decades, and it places a priority on providing quality wines at good prices. David Chesterfield, the CEO and co-owner, notes that they look primarily at wineries that are family owned, individually owned or that engage in small production. They want wines that are either difficult to find for sale or that can’t be found at all. Chesterfield, along with several wine connoisseurs, try out all the wines to determine which should be included.
There are a variety of membership options with this club. I like the International Series, which you can get starting at $75. There is an option to also get gourmet food from the same region as the wine for another $24.95. Along with the items in your package, you’ll find information on the winemaker, winery and the region. The packaging itself is notable, particularly if you are sending a gift to someone. The wine bottles are cloaked in organza bags and placed beneath a beautiful box lid.
It is the Gold Series that Chesterfield says is their most popular, because it has the most subscribers and it is also given the most as a gift. The Diamond Series has the elite wines. It is free to join this club and you can cancel whenever you want.
International Wine Of The Month Club
This club has also been around for more than two decades, and their focus is on providing their customers with wine from all over the world. Kris Calef is the founder and president and he states that the club wants to expose their members to new wines from regions they may not have previously considered. Of all the clubs out there, this one has a very extensive examination process when it comes to the wine itself. They first put it through a tasting with people from the company. They then do a bigger tasting with up to forty people, some of whom are wine experts and some of whom are not. The wines they select are the ones that are viewed most favorably across both of these tastings.
Calef states that the Original Premier Series is best for those just joining the club. The price is right and the quality is still high; members receive two bottles for $47.95 (including shipping).
Plonk Wine Club
Started by Etty Lewensztain, Plonk Wine Club takes its members on a journey with each shipment. You’ll get a number of different varietals from regions all over the world. One shipment had wine from France and Germany in it. There was a Malbec and a Spatburgunder Rose Trocken included. The wines were great choices, and they were not at all like anything you can get in the store. Plonk Wine Club also includes information in their packages, like recipes, food pairings and tasting notes, and they offer a discount if you order again. One thing that is a little different is that you have to pre-pay for your membership, and you can’t get that money back. Select between a 12 month, 6 month or 3 month membership. However, if you don’t like the wine you get, you will get your money back.
Blue Apron Wine
You may have heard of the Blue Apron meal kits; this wine club arose from that service. Members do not have to buy food, but some will find it beneficial to make the wine/meal pairings. You get six bottles of wine each month, and you have the option of getting all whites, all reds or a little of both. Because the bottles are smaller, at 500 mL, the prices are low. For one month, members pay $65.99 and have a chance to try a lot of different wine.
Lot 18 / Tasting Room
Lot 18 has been heading up the Tasting Room wine club for a few years now. They made several changes when they first got it, including allow members to try out sample size wine to figure out what they liked. For about ten dollars, you get six small bottles to taste. The process is supposed to help you figure out what you like and don’t like. If you are already an expert in wine, this won’t help you, but newbies find the process very valuable.
Once you have your tastes down, you are sent wines that match your preferences. You get a package every three months, and it costs a total of 168.99 (with shipping). If you like a wine, you can get another bottle of it by navigating to the “Bottle Shop” within the main site.
Club W is very unique in the wine club world. They don’t look around to find the best wines out there. Instead, they have growers and wineries that they work with that bottle wines for them. You can only get Club W wines as a member, and you cannot buy them in stores.
Each month, members are sent a list of what is available. They pick the wines, using their Palate Profile as a guide. The profile is completed online when you join. With a basic membership, you get three wines per month for $45 (including shipping). One common complaint is that it is difficult to get a wine again that you really like. However, if you find yourself growing bored often, and you want an ever changing selection, this is the club for you.
It does not cost anything to join, but some people have complained that canceling is hard.
Only dealing in wines from Oregon, Washington and California, this club is located close to San Francisco and has been around for nearly eight years. It was founded by Mark Aselstine and Matt Krause, who make it a point to form relationships with a variety of winemakers along the West Coast, helping them to get smaller lot wines that others have difficulty finding.
Their mid-range selections cost around a hundred dollars and shipping is extra. After a quick glance at the site, I determined that there are at least three wines that could be purchased just about anywhere. These included Sojourn, Stonestreet and Paul Hobbs. However, one of the luxuries of belonging to a wine club is that you don’t have to go out and physically drive to the store. This club has high quality wines and is a solid choice for anyone that likes West Coast wines. It is free to sign up and you can cancel whenever you want.