Tuesday, January 31, 2023
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Best Wine Club for 2023 – CNET

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 wines, 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 wine lover, delivering fabulous bottles straight to your wine rack, fridgecellar (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. 

First Leaf

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.

SomMailer

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. 

Roscioli Wine Club

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.

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.