the best wine clubs

With something as complicated as wine it’s all too easy to stick to the same trusty supermarket buys when you find something you like. You know there’s so much more out there but that Oyster Bay comes through for you time and time again so before you know it, you’re stuck in a wine rut. Having the time to research and discover new wines is a time consuming and expensive habit so that’s where a wine subscription service can help out, delivering new and interesting bottles direct to your door every month.

We checked out two services recently, one well respected UK company Wanderlust Wine and one French company Le Petit Ballon, which has just launched in London. Both operate on a similar premise – a curated selection of wine delivered to you at regular intervals – but there are some subtle differences that will suit some more than others, so read on to see which one is best for you.

Wanderlust Wine

This club is the subscription service of wine seller Wanderlust Wines and in going with them you also get discounts across their entire range as an extra perk. They have more membership options about their best wines than Le Petit Ballon so if you have a more specific idea about the amount and quality of the wine you’d like to receive then they certainly offer the greatest flexibility. It starts with a Bronze membership at £25 per month, which features ‘everyday drinkers’ and goes all the way up to Platinum at £75 per month, a 12 bottle box of prestigious and rarer wines for the real wine nerds. The wines are curated by hand each time so you’ll always get something tailored to your tastes and preferences.

We were very happy with the first wines of our Silver membership (£35/month) which featured a light and crisp organic prosecco; a Fontaine du Clos Vacqueryas, a rich red made next door to Chateau Neuf du Pape, from the same blend and for half the price; and a rare (one of only 541 bottles) Syrah/Grenache blend from young winemaker Jeremy Recchione.

We loved the variety of wines delivered and learning something about the wines too. Plus if you want to learn even more, you’ll get two free tickets to regular Wanderlust wine tastings so there’s some great value to be had if you make the most of it. You can also get £10 off your first order by signing up to the Wanderlust Wine mailing list.

Le Petit Ballon Wine

This might be the one to go for if you’re new to wine or are looking for a bit more help and information with your bottles. There are just two subscription options here: Grape Expectations for £24.90 a month or Age of Raisin for £39.90 a month, featuring more prestigious labels for the connoisseurs. Whichever you choose, wines will be selected by master sommelier Jean-Michel Deluc, who previously worked at The Ritz in Paris so he certainly knows his stuff.

We absolutely loved The Gazette, the free magazine that came with the wines, which was packed full of not only tasting notes but interviews with the winemakers, advice on how to taste wines, a guide on how wine is made, and even some wine-friendly food recipes! It really is a great touch, especially for the novice. We enjoyed a fruity and spicy red from the Rhone Valley, a Grenache and Syrah blend that was very easy to drink. We also had a fresh and fruity white, Altesse, with salmon and spinach for dinner as recommend by the included tasting notes. If you enjoy the wines, you can also order them again at a discount from Le Petit Ballon.

Each service has its strengths. For those less confident with wine we might suggest Le Petit Ballon as The Gazette really is a useful guide and resource. Wine enthusiasts may find more variety and flexibility in Wanderlust Wines so it really comes down to what you’re looking for. Whichever you choose, however, you can be sure of discovering some fantastic new wines and never resorting to boring supermarket buys again.

London on the Inside readers can get £10 off their first month with Le Petit Ballon with the code INSIDE10 – valid until 1st May 2018.