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, The Wine List, a newbie on the scene, and the well respected Wanderlust Wine. 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.
The Wine List
Learning how to taste wine properly is a pretty long and involved process, and not everyone that wants to expand their knowledge has the time or money to go on proper courses. Enter the Wine List. This is a subscription service as much about learning as it is about drinking. Each month you get a selection of wine along with tasting notes and one Wine Roots booklet, which forms part of their wine course that teaches you the principles of wine.
There are three membership options – Core (two bottles a month for £39), Case (six bottles for £99 if you want speed up your learning) and Collector (12 bottles for £189 so you can learn and collect at the same time). No matter what tier you go for, you always get interesting bottles that you wouldn’t find in the supermarket.
We’ve found the Core plan a great way to start. Naturally the wines are great – our first bottles were a Quinta de Ramozeiros from the Douro Valley and an Austrian riesling from Nigl Winery – but it’s the accompanying info that really sets the Wine List apart. The tasting notes provide good background on the individual wines and wineries, and the principles of wine tasting – how to look, smell and taste it – are explained in a clear and relatable way with zero ponciness or pretension. We love that there’s a real focus on drinking wine for pleasure and using what you learn to find other wines that you like – which is the whole point of drinking the stuff after all!
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 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 Silver membership at £25 per month, which features ‘everyday drinkers’ and goes all the way up to Platinum at £100 per month, 10 bottles very two months 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, 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.