We live in an era of instant gratification — there’s a digital shortcut to just about everything. And now that the majority of us are stuck at home flattening the curve, these modern conveniences are all but essential. While many businesses have suffered greatly in the wake of COVID-19 closures and their ripple effects, some are flourishing more than ever, among them wine delivery and wine subscriptions. They’ve been steadily on the rise in recent years but have unsurprisingly skyrocketed over the past couple of weeks, according Brian Smith, the chief operating officer at Winc, a hybrid winery and online wine subscription club based in California. Its business, in particular, saw a whopping 684 percent increase in new member sign ups between March 15 and March 28 and an 80 percent increase in revenue for the month of March over February, Smith said.
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In this article
- Best approachable and affordable wine delivery
- Best wine delivery subscriptions with variety
- Best customizable wine delivery clubs
- Best by-the-glass wine delivery subscriptions
- Best natural wine delivery subscription clubs
- Best speciality wine delivery subscription plans
Founded in 2012, Winc has become one of the most popular options within the wine club landscape. Its concept is a bit of an anomaly in the world of wine subscriptions: By producing and selling its own wines in addition to acting as a négociant (bottling wines from other growers), it provides members access to a breadth of bottles that other clubs do not offer — the model aims to bring wines to market accessibly and unpretentiously. “We have certainly seen an increase in our sales and membership [while] people are working from home and stocking up on necessities,” Brian Smith, COO of Winc, tells NBC News. “The next few months will be big for our at-home delivery and our [direct-to-consumer] sales."
Beyond the inherent convenience, the shared goal of Winc and its competitors is fostering the discovery of new wines based on your existing tastes, broadening your palate in the process. Each subscription concept achieves this in a unique way, attempting to fit all experience levels. That means there’s a club for virtually every taste and lifestyle — from no-frills blends to obscure orange wines and by-the-glass options for the non-committal. Here are the best wine subscriptions for every kind of drinker throughout isolation and after, whenever that may be.
Best approachable and affordable wine delivery
1. Winc Wine Club Membership
A Winc membership is simple, straightforward and intuitive. Start out by taking a brief questionnaire about your palate and preferences and it will help inform your curated deliveries. The minimum order size is three bottles — four bottles gets you free shipping. Otherwise, you can subtract or add bottles as you wish. If you order 12 or more bottles at once, you’ll get 10 percent off that order.
The wines — which, again, are either produced by Winc or bottled in partnership with other producers — start at $13. And you can start rating your wines after you’ve tasted them. If you don’t like one of your bottles, you’ll receive a credit toward your next shipment. Otherwise, members can skip a month or cancel altogether at any time without penalty. Winc operates on a credit basis, meaning your monthly membership fee gets you a set number of credits each month to use toward your wine shopping (these do not expire).
2. Martha Stewart Wine Club
Martha Stewart Wine Co. is an online wine marketplace, offering a straightforward shopping experience for those who wish to make individual purchases, as well as a membership platform: Martha Stewart Wine Club. The club ships either six or 12 bottles every six or eight weeks and features bottles selected by Stewart herself — you’ll choose from red, white or a variety pack.
The six-bottle option comes out to just over $8 per bottle, and the 12 bottle shipment equals out to around a dollar less per bottle. First boxes feature a standard selection designed to introduce new members to the cellar offerings — and shipping is free, regardless. You can easily skip boxes or change your preferences online, and if there’s ever a bottle you don’t like, Martha Stewart Wine Club will replace it at no charge.
3. Blue Apron Wine
You might know Blue Apron as a meal planning concept, but their monthly wine membership can be just as appealing. Subscribers receive six 500-milliliter bottles (two-thirds the size of a standard 750-milliliter bottle) and members can select reds, whites or a mix. Pre-selected bundles of three, six, or 12 bottles are available via the website’s Market tab.
These wines are designed to complement Blue Apron’s meals (they’ve even created a special wine pairing key to help marry the two), but they can of course be enjoyed on their own. Note that the wine program is separate from Blue Apron’s meal offerings so it operates and ships separately. You can skip or reschedule wine shipments.
Best wine delivery subscriptions with variety
4. Cellars Wine Club
The Cellars Wine Club is actually a collection of different clubs versus one singular membership – choose the one that best fits you based on your budget or palate preferences. You can also select your frequency (options include total number of boxes and the frequency of delivery, whether monthly or quarterly — one-time purchases are available as well. Membership categories include 90 Point Wines, West Coast, Natural Wines, Red Trio, Sparkling Wines and many more with bottle quantities varying by category.
Across all memberships, Cellars Wine Club’s selection process seeks to “balance new discoveries with timeless classics,” so you can generally expect a good variety of popular and unexpected producers and styles. Single bottle deliveries start at $12 and boxes begin at $29. Shipments generally go out to members around the 20th of each month. Standard shipping is always free and you can shop with confidence thanks to Cellars Wine Club’s “No Bad Bottle” guarantee, which will replace any corked or bad bottle, no questions asked. You can cancel your membership at any time.
5. Wine of the Month Club
Delivering wine since 1972, Wine of the Month Club is one of the originals, a tried and true platform with a variety of subscription options (and delivery cycles) and spanning the world’s great wine regions. This club is ideal for the casual wine drinker interested in getting to know wines approachably.
Choose from two-bottle options, large-format boxes, “mystery” selections and more: Two-bottle deliveries start at approximately $38 and go up to $95, and the larger offerings begin at $98 and go up from there. One of the benefits of this club is its guarantee: If you don’t like one of the bottles you’ve received, they’ll send you something new, no questions asked. You can also shop plenty of peripherals and wines outside of membership options. Each order comes with a breadth of information from second-generation owner Paul Kalemkiarian, who says that he personally tastes every single wine offered across the site.
6. Wine Awesomeness
While discerning, the curation process at Wine Awesomeness is not exclusionary or limited to specific styles or regions. These boxes are served with a side of education – each shipment includes pairing ideas, tasting notes and information surrounding the month’s theme (past themes include Return to South Africa, California Roadtrip, and Film Noir).
Both the three-bottle and six-bottle membership formats feature free shipping and access to the Wine Awesomeness publication, thebacklabel. Once you’ve selected your quantity, you’ll set your preferences to red, white or a mix, which you can adjust later. Wines can be purchased à la carte via the website’s wine shop, and members are allowed to skip boxes or cancel without penalty at any time. Lastly, Wine Awesomeness touts perhaps one of the most generous guarantees of all subscriptions: if you can create a comparable box of wine elsewhere for a lower cost, they’ll give you a whole year’s worth of wine on the house.
Best customizable wine delivery clubs
7. Firstleaf Wine Club
Using a custom algorithm made up of 13 billion data points, Firstleaf reslies on churning information to match its members with wines they’ll love. The system constantly evolves as it gathers customer ratings — between this and your personal tasting profile, you’ll typically receive a curated box of six wines based on these factors.
Heightened order volumes brought on by the pandemic have Firstleaf offering a choice between themed, pre-selected bundles (e.g. Big Reds, Founder’s Favorites and more) or an extended wait time for your personalized bottle collection. Either way, you’ll get an impressive introductory discount on your first order: $40 plus tax (shipping is free) — from there, pricing is significantly lower than retail pricing, which is one of Firstleaf’s main selling points. Lastly, if you don’t like a bottle, you’ll receive a credit in its place.
8. Bright Cellars
The first step for Bright Cellars’ members is a seven-question preferences quiz that was designed by the two founders, both MIT graduates, and uses a matrix of 18 wine attributes to match palates with suitable wines for each monthly delivery. Boxes are $80 each and include four wines.
Bright Cellars’ selection as a whole focuses on “unique, hidden gems from small vineyards from all over the world,” so you can expect lesser-known bottles from wine regions across Italy, Portugal, South America and more. You can skip a shipment or cancel your membership at any time.
Best by-the-glass wine delivery subscriptions
9. Usual Wines
Usual Wines is a by-the-glass négociant offering minimal intervention wines by the glass — referring to preserving the integrity of the wine’s most natural state by keeping manipulation to a minimum. Chemicals, preservatives and sugars are not added to these wines, allowing the wine’s most natural qualities to shine through. And a healthy 6.3-ounce pour helps, too.
Usual Wines’ grapes are sustainably sourced in California, and its range — red blend, rosé, and brut — is available for one-time purchase or a discounted monthly delivery that enables mixing and matching the contents of your box. The wines are bottled in glass beakers with screw caps on the red and rosé and a traditional bottle cap on the sparkling (though corks have long been a norm for wine, caps like this generally seal in oxygen more effectively, keeping wines fresher and more crisp). Usual Wines is an excellent place to start for those who wish to dabble in or try new low-intervention wines without purchasing a whole bottle.
VINEBOX is made for the curious wine drinker who prefers to make informed decisions — using an inert gas bottling technology, this club offers 3.4-ounce tasting vials of European wines, delivered in boxes of nine on a quarterly or annual basis (you’ll get a discount for choosing the annual option or if you double your boxes). The wines themselves are exclusive to VINEBOX and generally represent rare and special regions, varietals, and producers. The boxes each follow a theme — for example, this quarter’s box is “Hidden Gems,” focusing on underrepresented wines from around the continent.
Each box includes a comprehensive guide to what’s in the vials. And if you’d like a membership preview, you can make a one-time purchase of a box via the site’s shop tab. With a membership like this, you can taste a wide variety of wines before committing to a bottle, and with each box you receive, you’ll get a credit toward a full bottle purchase ($15 for quarterly members and $30 for annual, though note that these credits expire at the end of each quarter). Shipping is free and you can skip boxes or cancel your membership at any time.
Best natural wine delivery subscription clubs
MYSA, the only direct-to-consumer natural wine importer in the country, is a go-to digital destination for all things natural wine, offering all types, from red, white, orange and rosé to sparkling and dessert wines. Each of MYSA’s wines is selected from small producers, and the company has partnered with multiple environmental organizations and women’s business groups to give back to, so this is a club you can feel good about joining.
You can shop individual bottles from around the world but joining the club means the brand’s expert team of two will guide you through the world of natural wine — they include a customized information packet with each order. Choose from three-, six- or 12-bottle orders delivered as often as you like. If you’re looking to support small winemakers, get to know the natural wine scene and be mindful of the environment and workers along the way, this is the club for you.
12. Plonk Wine Club
If you’re looking for a hidden gem sort of wine concierge, consider Plonk Wine Club. Focused on natural and sustainable wines only, Plonk offers customized shipments and seeks to expand members' exposure to the world of organic and biodynamic winemaking, aiming to support small farmers and producers from around the world in the process.
This club promises “exclusive access to the best, limited-production, hard-to-find, off-the-beaten-path wines,” so it appeals to those looking to discover really special bottles, and who don’t mind paying the price. Through Plonk, you’ll receive thoughtful wines made from lesser-known grape varieties (think Blaufrankisch, Furmint, Treixadura, and many more) from countries like Slovenia, Georgia, New Zealand, Uruguay, and others. Sign up for the white, red or mixed wine club for yourself or as a gift, choose the four- or 12-bottle option (the latter offers a case discount) and select your frequency.
13. Dry Farm Wines
Transparency is the top priority for Dry Farm Wines, a natural wine club dedicated to bringing quality wines in their purest state (“nothing added, nothing removed”) to your door. Members of this club receive only small batch bottles that have made the cut based on Dry Farm’s requirements, ranging from no added sugar (all wines must include less than one gram of natural sugar per liter), dry farmed grapes (meaning no irrigation), use of wild native yeast in the winemaking process, a maximum of 12.5 percent alcohol by volume and more. Most importantly, all of Dry Farm Wines’ featured bottles must be the product of mindful farming practices, meeting the industry’s natural, sustainable or biodynamic standards.
This club’s wines come from all over the world with a focus on Europe, and all bottles are lab-tested for purity. Dry Farm Wines offers monthly shipments in two formats: six bottles for $159 or 12 bottles for $299 (with either, you can choose red, white or a mix). If you wish to order natural sparkling or rosé wines, there are dedicated memberships for each, starting at three-bottle orders. Ground shipping is always free and members can cancel at any time.
Best speciality wine delivery subscription plans
14. Wine Society
Wine Society brings together quality and approachability, proving that wine doesn’t have to be bottled to be great. Three core California wine offerings — an award-winning red blend, a white blend and a crisp rosé — are available in the subscription variety pack, which is delivered every three months at a discounted introductory price of $37 (future boxes will be billed at their regular price of $49).
Each can is 500ml, or three standard pours, and the variety pack is also available as a one-time purchase along with Wine Society’s new sparkling rosé, larger packs, and limited edition cans. Added bonuses: Shipping is free for all orders and Wine Society is currently donating five percent of sales to the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation COVID-19 Crisis Relief Fund.
15. Cellar 503
Oregon’s wine scene has been blossoming for some time now, and there’s a club dedicated to showcasing the best of the state's 19 winemaking regions. This is an excellent way to dive into a singular wine area and directly support small producers in the process. Cellar 503’s membership program is quite easy to navigate: Select from red ($55 monthly for two bottles), white ($45 per month for two bottles) or mixed ($50 monthly for two bottles).
Each bottle is hand-selected by Cellar 503 founder Carrie Wynkoop — you can adjust your box quantity and delivery frequency based on your budget and needs. There’s a three-month minimum for membership and shipping is $20 per order to the contiguous United States. If you purchase a six-pack of bottles, Cellar 503 will make a donation to the Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation, an organization that provides healthcare and advocacy for migrant workers.
16. Orange Glou
Created in Brooklyn, Orange Glou is the brainchild of German-born sommelier Doreen Winkler, a fierce advocate for natural wines in general, but with a particular focus on the orange wine category. Orange wine is a style of white wine defined by contact with the skin of the grape during the winemaking process, rendering the wine an orange shade on a spectrum ranging from pale peach to deep amber.
Winkler selects each rare bottle herself, and the club offers a variety of subscriptions, like three- and six-bottle monthly deliveries ($105 and $195 before tax and shipping, respectively), surprise boxes, variety packs, special edition artist-designed boxes, glasses, gifts and more. Note that Orange Glou is domestic only and ships to select states, but anyone can join in for Winkler’s Instagram Live tastings, hosted every Monday at 6 p.m. EST.
fatcork is designed for people who are serious about Champagne, or who wish to explore the category further and with purpose. With a focus on low dosage (little to no added sugar), this online wine shop and club works exclusively with growers (small producers who grow their own grapes) so by ordering single bottles or becoming a member of the club, you’re supporting a family-owned business that works with other family businesses across the Champagne region.
fatcork’s main goal is to open up consumers' eyes to Champagne as an everyday wine versus a celebratory ritual reserved for special occasions, and to bring grower Champagne to the mainstream (historically, these wines make up a low percentage of U.S. imports, according to the Comité Champagne). As a member, you’ll receive a quarterly themed collection of three, four, or six bottles, complete with plenty of background information on each, and you can cancel at any time.
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