It’s tough to imagine a better era for wine than the one we’re living in. From canned wine that actually tastes good to brilliant sommeliers opening our eyes and palates up to exciting offerings, it’s a fine time to be alive and sipping.
Now, there are a lot of wine clubs out there. Every outlet or public figure seems to be offering one, from Martha Stewart to the Wall Street Journal. Frankly, many are worth ignoring. But a good club is a godsend, outfitting you with unusual or hard-to-find wines you can enjoy at home. Better, the selections are often vetted by industry pros, meaning they’re also guaranteed to impress when you pop the cork.
There’s a good side to all of those options, however. Namely that you can join up with the best wine club that caters to your every wine preference. Whether you gravitate toward natural wines, orange wines, Italian wines, or certain varietals, there’s an ideal wine club out there waiting for you.
Wine clubs have been around for over 50 years, with the first, the aptly named Wine of the Month Club, starting in 1972. A wine club is a membership-based program that ships you a selection of wines at certain times during the year (monthly, quarterly … and so on). Wineries directly run many of the wine clubs, but in some cases, wine shops and other entities run clubs.
The wine club shipments come with a selected number of bottles delivered straight to your door. In addition to the wine, club members often receive educational materials about the wines in the shipments, including pairing suggestions and recipes. Many times, members will get special discounts and invitations to exclusive members-only events.
How to join a wine club
Most times when you visit a winery, you will be told about the winery’s wine club and be given a chance to join right on the spot. Since wine clubs are a big source of revenue for wineries, some will really push a membership, so make sure to do your research before committing. Also, look for wine clubs online, as some of the independent clubs aren’t attached to specific wineries, but they offer better pricing and access to wines from smaller winemakers that you may not have had the chance to discover.
Before signing up for a wine club, make sure to research the wine shipping laws in your state, as some states don’t allow for direct shipments of wine to consumers.
Here are six wine clubs very much worth checking out. If you do end up signing up, don’t forget to keep your booze organized like a pro.
If natural wine is your thing, this is your wine club. And even if you don’t know much about the genre but just want to try some more adventurous wines, MYSA is a great route. The recent March mixed shipment involved a lively Syrah from Croatia, an extended skin-contact Viognier from the Yarra Valley in Australia, and a bright Spanish Rosé. In addition to the wines, a small sheet is included with a QR code that unlocks specs on the wines themselves. There are three different club options (mixed, orange, and red, of varying amounts), and you can also shop for wines by the bottle on the club’s website.
Sommeliers say great things about this club, which gets its paws on cult wines from all over the place. We’re talking limited-production European wines that even the best restaurants only get every so often, if at all. The collections are split up by region, and there’s even an ongoing collaboration series wherein the club works with a top-rated chef to choose the wines and suggest the best pairings for each wine. Wine education can be intimidating, but Wine Access informs and entertains equally. Another perk? The related materials are well-written and create valuable context as you wonder what exactly you’re sipping on.
If you’re looking for maximum bang for your buck, Laithwaites is up to the task. You may recognize the name, as the brand has been around since the late 1960s, beginning as an importing outfit set up to expose Londoners to Bordeaux wines. Today, it’s a global marketplace of inexpensive, food-friendly wines from all over the globe. The club sets members up with wines they can enjoy no matter what they’re eating for dinner. The three tiers of club membership all come as full cases, so show up thirsty or with a proper wine fridge to make your selections last.
As the name suggests, you get the somm’s choice with this fine club. That means interesting finds from all over the wine map, like Slovakian whites, blends from Lebanon, or Austrian Riesling. Of the four club routes, The Blind 6 is perhaps the most appealing, a half-case that sets you up to have a proper mystery wine experience and sharpen your palate. The wines are veiled so you can taste through and try to figure out what you’re tasting, much like an actual sommelier in training. On top of the club, SommSelect also offers daily specials, case discounts, and a general wine shop full of intriguing choices.
One of the great wine importers of the world, Kermit Lynch also offers some quality wine club options. The company brings the same sense of passion and exploration to its club that it has to its importing business and wine shop for years. There are interesting tag-alongs in each shipment of wine too, like solid food pairing suggestions, recipes, and winery profiles. Presently, five very different club options are available, from an introductory two-bottle per-month tier to a bi-monthly case featuring wines from France and Italy. If you live near Kermit Lynch’s shop in Berkeley, California, you can pick up your wine there and save on shipping costs.
This club would likely be approved by the late Anthony Bourdain, as the food personality was a fan of the Roman tasting room. Now, Roscioli is a club in addition to being a must-visit tag on anybody’s Italy itinerary. The highly-curated family of wines focuses on Italian producers, many of which didn’t end up stateside prior. There’s a focus on sustainably-produced wine overall and several tiers for enthusiasts to explore. The club looks to bring a part of Italy to your home, via educational videos and “ask the winemaker” forums. And the crew has done its homework, having visited 600 wineries firsthand.
Whether you’re looking to dabble in some new wine finds or build up a serious collection, the wine club is the best and easiest route to do so. If you live near a wine country, we encourage you to get out and taste and become members of your favorite local labels. If there’s no wine scene in your backyard, or you simply want access to hard-to-find stuff from near and abroad, try out one of these six standout clubs.
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