Wine tasting is a great way to expand your palate and your wine knowledge, not to mention have some fun. However, most people don't have the time or money to do all of that on a regular basis. Besides the ease and accessibility to some of the best wine in the world, wine clubs also offer something that you aren't able to get from any single vineyard: variety. Wine clubs can introduce you to wines from more remote, smaller, new wineries and often at bottom-barrel prices.
The best wine subscription services also access limited-batch and private-label, as well as international and boutique wines. And many will personalize selections based on your specific flavor preferences so you can avoid the roller coaster of novice wine buying: the thrill of choosing a gorgeous label, only to be followed by the disappointment of a lackluster glass.
The best wine clubs and services go far beyond simply asking if you prefer red wine, white wine, rosé or sparkling. With advanced algorithms and rating systems, they'll plumb your palate over time and learn the wine you really love. But finding the best wine subscription will ultimately depend on your palate, preferences and budget.
If evaluating all the wine club subscription options seems like a lot of work, I get it. It can feel like being in the Wild West of wine country without a guide. That's why we canvassed the landscape to uncork the best wine clubs and delivery options, from wine subscription boxes that specialize in monthly bottle surprises to services curated to your exacting vino standards.
These online wine services offer thoughtful selection, great customer service, helpful tasting notes from trained sommeliers and tremendous value for any, delivering fabulous bottles straight to your wine rack, , (or couch -- no judgment here).
Below you'll find important information on the most popular wine clubs to help you find the best wine subscription service for 2023.
Formerly known as Club W, Winc first asks customers to take a short quiz and then presents dozens of good wine choices and four highlighted recommendations that should match your palate for a monthly subscription. If you already know your wine preference, you can choose which wines to add to your box and use the site's filter options to find sweet wine, sparkling wine, international wine like French wine and vegan wines (yes, that's a thing).
You don't have to pick four wines, but it's generally the easiest way to get to the free shipping minimum. If you don't curate your box or forget to skip the month, your top recommendations will be shipped to you. Winc also sells both its own wines and bottles from independent wineries.
At $13 per bottle and up, Winc provides an overall great value for the wines and a user-friendly website. As a wine club member, you'll also receive a credit toward your next purchase for any wine you don't enjoy. Plus, you can rate the wines (between one and five stars), which improves your future recommendations and helps others make decisions.
You can skip your next delivery if you'll be out of town, but you cannot pause your subscription if you need a longer break. Introverts should know that you need to cancel via phone or online chat (the latter being the fastest way).
Novices and connoisseurs alike can build lasting brand loyalty with Winc's wine selection, but be warned: some wine club subscribers might get tired of its stock in a few months if they want something different with each delivery. Either way, we think there's something for everyone in this popular wine subscription.
I tried this wine club and have to say the hit rate of solid wines was extremely high for my moderately experienced palate. If you've graduated from the Gallos and the Cupcakes and want to include more nuanced, complex and higher-priced premium wine in your life, Firstleaf wine club might be good for you too. Its palate quiz is one of the most involved, asking for varietal (pinot noir vs. shiraz, for instance) preferences in addition to using several household name wines as taste benchmarks.
This intelligent wine subscription service gets to know you by asking about certain tasting notes and qualities you might prefer in your perfect wine -- such as minerality -- in contrast to similar quizzes which assume many don't know what that means. In short, this is probably the best wine club for a wine enthusiast who has the basics down and is ready to launch into expert wine tasting territory.
Firstleaf offers six tailored bottles of wine delivered per month for $90. You can schedule the delivery frequency however you please (according to the company, most customers pick an every other month schedule), and can swap out each of your selections through your account, but if you don't like the replacement, you'll have to email customer support. Otherwise, skipping a single order, putting your account on hold, reactivating it, and canceling your subscription altogether can all be done through your online wine club account.
Cellars Wine Club ($49 and up per month) actually offers four different wine clubs that you can switch between, based on your preferences. A wine expert sommelier team tastes and chooses the curated wines for the clubs every month. Ultimately, these sommelier experts pull from the same pool of wines, but the individual sub-clubs cater to specific tastes and categories.
Most of these sub-clubs ship a wine box with two wine bottles per month. Clubs are curated by themes like 90+ point wines, sparkling wines and even a sweet wine club. While other services, especially palate-based ones, box you into experiencing certain kinds of wine, Cellars allows the wine drinker to be adventurous from wine shipment to wine shipment without compromising quality.
Switching between clubs can be done online through your account, but if you want to cancel your subscription, you have to reach out to customer service.
Vinebox has moved away from the subscription model, but it's still a great way to try high-end wines from around the globe in its many tasting boxes available for purchase.
The cool and very giftable twist-top vials hit the middle ground between a tasting pour and a standard glass pour. This way, you can try these wines and maybe even have enough to pair with a meal or just unwind at the end of the day.
Themed tasting packs start at $78 for six 100ml vials of wine and go up from there.
For some people, wine is a way of life and The Panel gets this. Each month a group of winemakers, sommeliers and other wine experts blindly taste a wine selection. You'll then receive three or six of what they determine as the winning vinos. You can also explore wines from various regions with the custom blind tasting packages that include a range of options from premium Italian reds to California wine picks.
There are three tiers of club membership at $99 per month and up which also give you access to The Panel's lounge in Sonoma, California, as well as invites to special events. The most premium membership ($299 per month) includes perks like cellar consultations. Any membership level can reach capacity as subscriptions ebb and flow, so we can't promise that you'll be chosen right away (or at all).
For Francophiles, this wine club seeks to replicate the sommelier in a fine French restaurant or wine bar but from the comfort of your home. For one, all the wines come from France, but the team selecting them also lives and works in French wine regions and thus are intimately acquainted with the nuance of the product. To further drill down on the sommelier experience, SomMailer includes thoughtful food pairings and in-depth descriptions with every bottle.
To sign up for SomMailer, you'll choose either three bottles ($110 per shipment) or six bottles ($209) to be delivered quarterly and then select all red wine, all white wine or a mix of both. Subscriptions to SomMailer can be canceled anytime, but if you want to just try one box or gift a box of three or six French wines to a friend, you can do that too.
The best part is if you find a wine you really love, SomMailer will sell you a case of either three, six, or 12 bottles a la cart. This is great because you may not be able to find every wine you try in your local package store.
The popularity of biodynamic wines aligns with a growing desire to consume more natural foods and this organic wine club has its finger on the pulse of that shift in preferences. Organic grapes are a great place to start, but biodynamic farming and processing doesn't deteriorate the soil or add traditional winemaking additives like artificial sugars to natural wine.
Plonk Wine Club pulls biodynamic wines from all corners of the globe. As with everything else that's organic, this is a pricey box ($110 per month) that only contains four bottles. You can also order a dozen at a discount, but instead of getting an additional eight unique wines, you'll be stocking up on three bottles of each of that month's picks.
For those partial to old-world wine, Roscioli curates a selection of Italian bottles for decidedly discerning palates. The Roscioli family has been a fixture in Italy's food, wine and hospitality scene for two centuries. More recently, they've bottled up all that knowledge into a high-end wine club for serious imbibers and collectors alike.
Members of this wine club will receive two 12-bottle shipments per year (24 total) of Italian and old-world wines with an emphasis on biodiversity and biodynamics. Roscioli offers three subscription tiers starting at $755 per year for the "entry-level" tier. Join the exclusive collector's tier (currently on a waitlist), and this club will run you $2,000 to $4,000 per year (prices vary depending on the selection) for 24 special wines.
Roscioli Wine Club ships nationwide in the US, and each shipment includes pairing suggestions and scannable QR codes that trigger video introductions to the winemaker. Membership also includes access to Roscioli's online community platform of wine courses and a portal where they can ask anything (well, anything wine-related) of an Italian winemaker or sommelier.
The best part? Club members can cash in on a complimentary wine tasting at Roscioli when visiting Rome.
A vegan wine club? Now we've heard it all. Knowing whether or not a wine is vegan at your local wine shop is nearly impossible, and you often need to do some sleuthing if you want to ensure it is. Not so with this vegan wine club, which aims to take that winemaker research off your plate and fill your glass with quality wine every month.
Subscriptions start at $90 per month for three wines but for $90 you can choose or gift a starter box that includes three premium bottles of vegan wine. If you do know what you want, simply subscribe to either Red Lovers, Light Lovers or Signature Club. The three wine clubs ship six wines per quarter from international vegan wineries, and you can add vegan cheese pairings from Miyoko's Creamery. You can also change what kind of box you receive every month. In order to change your subscription type or cancel it, you need to email their team before your next shipment.
Maybe wine isn't your drink of choice, but it's always nice to have a few great wine bottles around. Ninety Plus Cellars ships rebranded wines from reputable wineries every three months. Meaning, they purchase a small percentage of bottles from vineyards with histories of highly rated wines and repackage them.
Starting at $95 per quarter, you'll get the six best wines of the season, six reds or a mix of six reds, whites and the occasional rosé and bubbly wines. It recently added the option to choose a dozen reds or a mix of a dozen bottles, in case you want to stock up for a party or the holiday season. Some of the older, legacy wine club companies still do four shipments a year, but we think Ninety Plus offers a better value and has a more user-friendly website.
Simple to use and straightforward, if you're looking for the convenience and discount associated with wine delivery but not the commitment of a full subscription service, you might try Wine Insiders. The wine delivery service offers wine lovers a careful selection of wines including reds, whites, sparkling wine and rosés all under $20 with zero subscription or monthly commitment and free shipping on six bottles or more.
Which subscriptions didn't make the cut and why
Our picks were chosen through a mix of personal experience, reviews from industry-leading wine and food sites, and customer reviews from casual enthusiasts via third-party sites like TrustPilot and HighYa. We also took into consideration factors such as customer service, ease of site navigation and breadth of selection.
Though media companies are credited with kicking off the wine club renaissance in 2008 (think The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times), they use one of a few, massive wine merchants to fill their orders. As a result, these companies, along with older clubs like Laithwaite's and Turner Classic Movies', essentially pull from the same lot, often marking up prices in the process. The lack of value and unique offerings excluded these services from our list. Some of the older clubs like Vinesse and California Wine Club do deliver a high-quality selection, but they also have text-heavy sites that are exhausting to navigate as well as cancellation policies that involve tedious phone calls.
Winc and Firstleaf are great examples of quiz-based wine clubs that offer customizable breadth to consumers. However, Bright Cellars, which also uses a quiz to discern customers' likes and dislikes, did not make our list. We found that this particular club ships lackluster wines, the palate quiz often spits out the same or nearly identical recommendations for very different people and its customer service could be better.
Wine Awesomeness, which taps into millennial wanderlust with its international offerings, gets tons of press (it even publishes its own magazine). Despite this impeccably crafted aesthetic, the club's subscribers and reviewers found the wines boring and also reported some serious shipping issues.
Tasting Room was considered for our trial-size wine pick, but it has gained a reputation as a bait-and-switch service. Most online reviewers loved the introductory taste test, only to be disappointed with the wine curation afterward.
In recent years, food-delivery services have also gotten into the wine-subscription service. Both Blue Apron and HelloFresh rolled out wine subscription add-ons to their popular meal delivery services. Blue Apron's smaller, half-liter offerings tend to be more premium than HelloFresh's, but both have a strong hit-or-miss reputation and don't take your palate into consideration by only providing direct meal pairings, which is why they ultimately didn't make our list.
We absolutely loved the premium, boutique wine offerings of Pour This from renowned sommelier Ashley Ragovin, but her subscription service has been terminated. We looked into SommSelect monthly wine club as an alternative, but its selection is more closely aligned with that of The Panel than the rare finds Ragovin could produce.
How we evaluated wine clubs and subscriptions
Our picks were chosen through a mix of personal experience, in-depth reviews from industry leaders and customer reviews from third-party review platforms such as TrustPilot and HighYa. We also took into consideration factors such as customer service, ease of site navigation and breadth of wines to choose from to help you find the best wine subscription services. We did not personally test every service on this list but we update as we try them.
Best wine subscriptions FAQs
Is wine cheaper when you buy it online?
It depends. In my neighborhood of New York, wine is exceptionally expensive to buy in package stores and so I find I can find the best wine for the best prices when I purchase it online. Some of the most popular services including Winc and Firstleaf have excellent plans that will deliver great bottles for as little as $13 each. I can almost never find decent wine that cheap in my local shops and so buying wine online is cheaper.
Are wine clubs hard to cancel?
Generally speaking, no. We haven't yet subscribed to every wine club, but the bulk of the ones we have tried make it fairly easy to cancel your subscription at no cost. Just be careful to read the details and fine print before you sign up. Some services will have options to commit to three or six months in advance and in those cases, it may be harder to cancel until your commitment is through.
How do I pick the best wine club for me?
You may want to start by asking yourself a few questions that go beyond red or white, flat or sparkling. Do you want a wine service that is highly curated to your specific tastes and favorite wine types? Do you have a roster of usual wines or would you rather try (mostly) new wine? Perhaps you'd like a master sommelier sharing their tasting notes and opinions of certain bottles? Are you looking for premium fine wine or a bottle of some other artisanal specialties? Then there are vegan wines, naked wines, organic and biodynamic wines to consider, each with a niche wine club or two specializing in them. Most importantly you must decide what a high-quality bottle of wine should cost. From there, you can use our list to find the best wine club or subscription service for you.
This article was written by J. Fergus and originally published on CNET's former sister site Chowhound.