Just as there are craft breweries and distilleries that produce smaller amounts of spirits, there are also small-production wineries that, unless you are living in the immediate area of the vineyard, you will most likely never hear about. NakedWines, a wine delivery service, is on a mission to change that by working with independent winemakers to showcase their wines to a global audience. To do this, they work with “Angels,” investors who make a $40 contribution each month to help support the winemakers. Since launching in the United Kingdom in 2008, NakedWines (thanks to the Angels) has invested in 159 independent winemakers in 14 countries.
Through the site, NakedWines allows users to purchase wines from these independent winemakers based on previous user rankings or by choosing a pre-selected box that is made by the company. This is not a subscription service, as there are no monthly or quarterly deliveries. Instead, it functions as a normal marketplace, but with a very specific focus.
Price: Varies according to the wines you pick. Some six-bottle cases are as low as $70 while other cases are as much as $360 or more.
Shipping: Mainland U.S. orders under $100 are $10. Delivery is included in purchases over $100, except in New Jersey ($20 flat), Hawaii ($130), and Alaska ($70).
Frequency: As often as you want.
Options: Red, white, or mixed cases (which can include rosé and sparkling).
Freebies and bonuses: $100 voucher and $50 “angel discount” off your first order, making your first order $90.
Upon visiting NakedWines for the first time, you’re given an offer for 12 bottles of wine (“to get you hooked) and a $100 coupon code, plus an Angel discount. This brings your first box down to around $90 (or $7.50 per bottle). For 12 bottles of what is essentially hard-to-find wine, this is not a bad deal at all and it is certainly a good way to pull you in. From there, you need to select what you want — reds, whites, or a mix — and simply head to check out.
This is most likely the last time you’ll get this sort of deal, but as an introduction to the service, again, it’s a hell of a steal. You can preview the wines in the cases before you buy, so if you’re unsure if the whites in your case are what you’re looking for, you can go for the all-red box instead, for example.
Once the introductory box is out of the way, the fun begins. There are a couple different filters on the NakedWines site, which help narrow down your future selections. First, you can do it without thinking at all by selecting one of the boxes curated by the site. Or, if you want more of an active role in your wine choice, you can filter by user rating or by grape type. If you rate the wines you’ve been sent, NakedWines also can use that to suggest future selections. If none of those seem to be working, you can call them and they will help you choose wine.
The prices of some of the cases may seem steep, but if you are one of the site’s Angels, those prices are reduced to a great extent. To be an Angel, you invest $40 a month; in turn, you gain access to exclusive wines at prices that are 40 percent to 60 percent off retail. Unfortunately, there is currently a waitlist to be an Angel. You can put your name on that list here.
One of the cooler things about the wine labels on each bottle is that they feature snippets of stories from the winemakers themselves. Whether they’re explaining their history or simply thanking the Angels, it adds a nice personal touch to the bottle.
Overall, NakedWines is a great wine to try out-of-reach wines. Too often, even in the best of wine stores, you won’t necessarily find small, independent growers. This service circumvents that and opens up new wine avenues to explore. The most beneficial way to use NakedWines is to be an Angel, thanks to the deep discounts, but it is still worthwhile trying a box or two waiting for the list to open up.