Should I Join A Wine Club?
Updated: Mar 17
As much as I love wine, I’ve never been a wine club type of person. I love to shop for wine. And when I say I love to shop for wine, I mean I love to go taste wine and then decide what wine to buy after I taste it.
So, being in a wine club never had a lot of appeal to me. While I know many wineries have a wine club which gives their members special perks, I don’t have one winery in particular that I love so much that I ever had a desire to spend the money to join their wine club.
As far as a wine club that doesn’t have a specific affiliation with a winery, I never saw the appeal of having a case of wine shipped to me each month that I may or may not like.
And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Suddenly, my normal means of purchasing wine – traveling to wineries and doing tastings or visiting my local wine store and perusing the aisles – was snatched away from me. I was facing the prospect of being stuck in my house for months and (gasp!) running out of wine!
So I did the unthinkable. I joined a wine club. And I have to admit that I like it. In fact, even when life gets “back to normal”, I think I’m going to stick with my wine club membership. Keep reading to learn more about my wine club experience and decide if joining one might be for you!
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WHAT IS A WINE CLUB?
Before you decide whether or not joining a wine club is for you, you need to understand what a wine club is. There are two different types of wine clubs that you can join.
LOCAL WINERY WINE CLUB
Many local wineries – both big and small – have wine clubs. If you are a big fan of a particular vineyard’s wines, you may want to consider joining their wine club. While it varies from winery to winery, some of the typical benefits of being in a wine club are discounts on wine, first access to new releases and special wine club member only events.
Tip #1: Before joining a wine club, make sure you consider whether or not you can take full advantage of the benefits, particularly if the winery is not close by. Can you have their wine shipped to you? Are you able to attend special events?
NATIONAL WINE CLUBS
There are also a number of “national” wine clubs out there. Clubs like Winc, Firstleaf, and Naked Wines are all clubs that procure wine on your behalf and send it to you. The big advantage of these clubs is that a case of wine will appear on your doorstep on a regular basis filled with wine from all over the world.
Tip #2: Before joining one of these wine clubs, make sure you understand what sort of buying commitment you need to make. Do you have to purchase a minimum amount every month? What if you don’t want to be in the club anymore? Can you cancel any time or do you have to commit for a certain time period? Be sure to read the fine print!
SHOULD I JOIN A WINE CLUB?
Deciding whether or not to join a wine club really comes down to how you want to shop for wine and what kind of wine you like to drink. One of the things that is very important to me personally, is supporting small wineries. Since small wineries often struggle to get distribution, they aren’t usually included in the national wine clubs. You have to go to the source.
I also like to try all different types of wine from all different regions. While I have favorite varietals, there is nothing better than discovering a new varietal from a region you aren’t familiar with.
Tip #3: If you join a winery wine club, make sure you REALLY love their wine. In most instances, joining one of these clubs isn’t going to make sense unless you purchase a lot of wine from that particular winery.
I WANT TO JOIN!
As I said above, if we had not had a pandemic, I probably never would have joined a wine club. But desperate times call for desperate measures and I needed an easy way to get wine to my doorstep. After looking into a few options, a friend of mine that is also a wine drinker suggested I try Naked Wines. She had a discount code that she offered to me, so I decided to check it out.
Tip #4: Many national wine clubs give members referral codes that allows them to pass a discount coupon on to potential new members. Don’t be fooled! Those discount coupons are how the wine clubs suck you in. That first case you order will be cheap. But the next case may not be so cheap. Again, read the fine print. Be sure you know what you are signing up for.
WHY NAKED WINES?
After looking into it, I decided to join Naked Wines. In addition to the fact that I got my first case really cheap (see Tip #4 above), there are a number of reasons why I decided to join this particular wine club.
I love the philosophy behind this wine club. The whole idea is that they provide funding for independent wine makers to make wines they may not be able to make otherwise. Members are called “angels” and through the money spent in the club, Naked Wines funds winemaker’s project wines. So not only are you supporting independent winemakers, but you have access to wine that you might not have anywhere else.
I don’t have to commit to buying a certain amount of wine every month. The wine club does charge my credit card $40 every month, but that $40 is put in my account. When I do decide to purchase wine, I simply use the credits in my account. If I don’t have enough credits, I pay any remaining balance at the time of the order.
Naked Wines has a great platform and community. When you become a member, you can join various forums to talk about wine or answer questions. The winemakers are also part of the community and they often interact with the members or post information about what they are up to. The platform has great resources to help me learn about the wine I’m drinking – how long I should store it, how I should serve it, etc. And it also lets me rate the wine, and then takes those ratings to suggest other wines I might like.
The pricing for wine club members is quite good. There is a “gift” wine that is put in your cart each month. And as an “angel”, you receive member pricing, which I find to be very good for the quality of wines I’m receiving. I would say that on average – including shipping – I’m paying around $10-$12 per bottle for the wines I receive.
WAS JOINING A CLUB THE RIGHT CHOICE?
So far, it was the right choice for me right now. I’ve been very happy with the wines I’ve received. Over the course of the last 5 months or so, I’ve purchased three cases and I’ve been happy with almost every bottle I’ve received. In fact, there are a few wines that I’ve added to my list of favorites.
I also love the convenience. In a world where nothing is easy, ordering wine has been simple. I go online, pick my case (or let them choose my case for me) and my UPS driver leaves it at my door within a couple of days.
Tip #5: Note that in most states in order to receive a delivery of wine (or any alcohol), someone must be home to receive the package and must be over the age of 21. Also, before you join a wine club that requires your wine to be shipped to you, make sure you understand the rules of shipping wine to your state.
I definitely miss the experience of going to visit a winery and tasting the wine before I buy. It’s one of my favorite things to do. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to do right now and probably won’t be for a little while longer. So until then, I’ll stick with my wine club and continue to explore new wines!
Are you in a wine club? What do you think are the pro’s and con’s? I’d love to hear about your experiences. Comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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