December 7, 2015
Ever thought of joining a wine club? Wine clubs are great alternatives for those who want to experiment with various wine styles but who don’t have time - or the desire - to browse in local wine shops. It’s an extremely convenient way to explore wine, often for a great price. To help you determine which club you should join, or if a wine club is even a fit for you, we put together this list of the top 5 wine clubs and why you should join one!
Life can get pretty busy sometimes, and there is a better alternative than just grabbing the closest bottle at the store. Wine clubs generally provide several advantages - great value for some, first-rate access to collectibles for others. Most clubs also put a lot of effort into wine education (which is one of the main benefits of joining a wine club): shipments are stuffed with newsletters and thorough descriptions of the wine, the winemaker, and the region, and sometimes even food and wine pairings or recipes suggestions. Other benefits include discounts on re-orders and cancellations, and a select few wine clubs accept returns.
Another big plus: clubs tend to buy in bulk, thus yielding a lower bottle price, and don’t deal with distributors - which usually add on another layer of pricing. This is why wine clubs can generally offer better prices, aside from the shipping costs. Wine club membership also means access to those small production mom and pop wineries you wouldn’t have heard of otherwise. Think about it: there are too many amazing wines in the world that aren’t on the store shelf at your local store.
The most important thing to consider is selecting the right wine club that fits your style. If you like aged Cabernet Sauvignon, consider joining the Aged Cabernet Series from The California Wine Club, for example. We put together the list below to help you learn about the top 5 wine clubs currently on the market; this list is not comprehensive, but it’s a good start!
Plonk Wine Club
This one is for those who are adventurous about wine. Plonk has a “let’s explore” wine approach that allows you to discover interesting varietals from diverse regions. The wines offered by Plonk are not what you’d typically find in retail, and are always accompanied by tasting notes, food pairings and recipes. The wine club also offers refunds on any wine you don’t like! Check them out on their website.
Gold Medal Wine Club
America’s leading independent wine club since 1992, and the most popular, the Gold Medal Wine Club is known for its high-level quality and versatile offerings. My personal favorite thing about the club: its six different membership options. Choose between the Gold Club, Platinum Club, Pinot Noir Club, Diamond Club, International Club and the Garagiste Club. Whether you prefer handcrafted, small-lot wines from independent artisan winemakers, 93+ collectable wines or wines from all around the world, there’s something for every taste! Read about all these options here!
International Wine of the Month Club
Another well-known and experience wine club, established in 1994, the International Wine of the Month Club distinguishes itself from other clubs with its two-tier tasting panel selection process. There is a first tasting done by the company experts, while a second larger tasting is organized with a group of 30 to 40 people - from casual drinkers to experts. The club then selects the wines that are popular among the broadest group of wine drinkers. Each monthly membership comes with two bottles (either two whites, two reds or one of each, at your own convenience) accompanied by a newsletter profiling the winemakers, with tasting notes, food parings, and recipes ideas. The club offers three unique options: The Premier Series, the original, most popular and best value club; The Collectors Series, which focuses exclusive offerings from super limited production - many of these rare wines are not even available outside of their respective countries or appellations; The Master Series, which offers the best of both worlds, with a bottle from The Premier Series, and the other one from the Collectors Series. Learn more on their website!
One of the newest additions to the Wine Club world, Somm Select was founded last year by Master Sommelier Ian Cauble (acclaimed documentary Somm star) and his business partner Brandon Carneiro. What’s so great about Somm Select? Its concept. The website is based on a flash sales, deal-of-the-day model. Somm Select sends daily emails with a wine recommendation available to purchase on their website, along with extremely thorough information on the winery, the vineyards, the winemakers, and tasting notes written by Ian Cauble himself. Somm Select’s goal is to offer high-quality wines - both domestic and international - at incredibly reasonable prices. And that’s exactly what they do. If you’re interesting in their daily offerings, learn more on their website.