Sometimes you’ve got to break some eggs to make an omelet. At least that’s what my grandmother used to say, and I tend to agree. With maybe one exception to the rule: choosing a wine subscription or wine club.
Let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than spending money on a bottle of premium wine and getting your hopes up about it, only to find you hate it. Trust me, no amount of “letting it breathe” will fix that. You’re out the money, and to add insult to injury, you now need a new bottle of delicious wine.
So I shopped. And sampled. And researched. And have come up with a plan to make sure that your wine subscription adventures are smooth and on point (just like those tasting notes!).
Now, I haven’t included a ton of memberships in our list, just the cream of the crop for those with varying budgets and tastes. Besides, you can keep looking if none of my picks resonate with you, though I’m confident you’ll find your wine lover match below.
How to Choose the Best Wine Club For You
Choosing the best wine club comes down to personal preferences, obviously. One or more of the following features may not matter to you personally, but when I when was shopping for wine subscription options, I found these perks to be really handy:
- Membership flexibility. Having the freedom to skip a month or two, or cancel at any time without penalty is great. Also check if you can change how many shipments and/or bottles you receive monthly.
- Satisfaction guarantees. Preferably, they’ll offer a satisfaction guarantee so if you receive a corked bottle, a bottle ruined by excess heat/cold, or just don’t like their selection, they’ll offer you a credit towards a replacement.
- Shipping Policy During Extreme Temperatures. If they don’t have a straight-up replacement policy, it’s a good idea to find out what sort of policy they do have for shipping in extreme conditions. Most clubs will automatically pause your shipments during weather anticipated to be too hot or cold along the route to avoid ruining your wine. Unless you ask otherwise (at your own risk).
- Palate Preferences Test. Most wine subscription services send you through a quick test before selecting your bottles to determine what kind of wines you’re likely to love. For instance, rating how you feel about citrus, whether you’re a fan of dark berries, or how you prefer your coffee.
- Bottle Ratings by Members. This is a great two-fold benefit. First, it allows the company to narrow down your tastes and send you wines you’ll like, but it also allows you to see what others thought of each wine and (perhaps) purchase accordingly.
Now that you’ve got an idea of what to look for when shopping for a wine club, let’s take a look at some of the gems I found while, ahem, researching this topic.
Best Budget-Friendly Wine Subscriptions
Martha’s wine club is so affordable and her site is chock full of useful information for wine drinker novices, as well as those who know their way around a bottle or two.
Subscription options include six bottles every six weeks or a case every eight weeks.
One serious perk: if you don’t like what she’s sent, they’ll replace it for free.
This one happens to be the wine subscription service I began receiving even before the jerk that is COVID took over our planet.
They pretty much hit my tasting preferences on the head after my quiz, and I’ve been getting bottles I love each month since the beginning. A standard subscription includes four bottles per month, but no one’s gonna judge if you’d like more. Like most monthly wine subscriptions, they offer discounts if you order by the case.
Best For Getting Acquainted With Wines
Vinebox curates great wine. You taste the wine by the glass (they send 9 wines in 100ml tasting tubes instead of full-sized bottles), and then you earn credits toward purchases of full-sized bottled versions of what you liked. The wines selected for boxed subscriptions are seasonal, so it’s a great way to learn about when and in what climate different varietals perform best.
4. Tasting Room
Like Vinebox, Tasting Room sends a mini-kit (six bottles of one-glass servings) when you first subscribe. T then you choose which wines you liked best. Some prefer white wine or sparkling wine, and others (like myself) prefer red wine.
Based on your favorites, they develop a unique wine profile just for you and send you full-sized bottles of what you dug most. You can adjust your shipment each month to when and how many bottles you’d like to receive.
Best For Oenophiles (Wine Enthusiast/Lover)
Like most other wine clubs, Firstleaf customizes its curated wine selection based upon your taste profile. Unlike most others, they have a crazy huge portfolio of high-end wines you may not be able to readily find elsewhere. They also provide a “wine concierge” for one-on-one communication about pairings, wine preference, cellar options, etc.
Noteworthy perk: If you don’t think they sent you a great wine, they’ll give you a credit for another.
6. Leon Circle
I love the confidence this wine club projects. Even though I’ve never tried their subscription myself, I’ve got reliable sources who say it earns every bit of that confidence with each shipment. They help you determine your preferences and profile, and they’ll send you 3 carefully-chosen bottles per month based on that profile.
You don’t get to choose the actual wines, so trust is essential here. I’m told it’s like drinking with “that friend” who exposes you to amazing wines you wouldn’t normally choose but end up falling hopelessly in love with.
7. Naked Wines
Operating with a kinda-sorta “crowd-sourcing” model, a monthly wine subscription to Naked Wines runs $40 per month and contributes toward investing in its winemakers. That $40 also goes into your wine account for you to use toward purchases at your convenience, so win/win.
We loved their “Napa Valley Discovery 6 pack” that includes some great California wine like a bottle of Ken Deis Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.
If you’d rather get your wine shipment direct rather than joining the club, that’s an option too. However, club members enjoy deep discounts on individual bottles and a host of other membership perks.
Go Forth And Drink Well!
My wine club subscription has spoiled me. Not just because I don’t have to head out my local wine retailer to restock, but because I’ve tried wines I wouldn’t ordinarily pick, and MAN has it broadened my horizons.
If you’re thinking about investing in a wine subscription, I say make it happen! If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably end up addicted to that buzz of anticipation (no pun intended) as you wait for your new shipment each month.
It’s like a mini happy-birthday-to-me. Even though I paid for it, it’s nice to let someone else pick the wine and still feel confident I’ll love what I get.
By no means am I a professional sommelier, but I love to drink amazing wine for a myriad of reasons. Exploring its complexities and food pairings is such an adventure when trying a new wine. I’d be a liar if I said I’ve ever spat one out for the sake of cleansing the palate during a wine tasting. I’m not ashamed to say I’m a fan of the buzz, too.
I think most of us would drink to that.