Discounted bottles on a supermarket shelf may seem tempting at the end of a long day, but there is a better way to buy wine. Not only will signing up to a wine club make you instantly feel more sophisticated, it will help you make new discoveries. The marked-down prices offered by these plans can also mean you save a penny or two. But be warned, some clubs can have hidden commitments and delivery costs.
How frequently you would like your deliveries is also worth considering — finding a club that fits your drinking habits is key to avoid overspending or, worst of all, having a wine drought. You can expect to get 12 wines in a delivery, although some of the clubs we tried offered six bottle or two bottle options.
Look out for whether they have a minimum sign-up period, since many ask for a commitment for at least six months. Also be careful of membership fees, although some, such as our Best Buy, offer the best value for money in the long term.
We sipped our way through the wine clubs out there, ranging from the notorious distributors to the obscure, for two months. Whether you are an expert, or just venturing out into the world of wine, we've hunted down the best clubs for you.
1. The Wine Society: Plans range from £28 to £200, The Wine Society
This club consistently scores well with us, year after year, and for good reason. The overall quality of the wine is excellent and there are some true gems to discover. It costs £40 for a lifetime share of the society and they give you £20 towards your first order when you join. As a cooperative, you know you’re spending money on good wine too, rather than just generating profit. Delivery is free for orders of 12 wines or more, or for orders over £75. Otherwise it costs £5. For new members, the minimum quantity is six bottles for the first six months.
2. Naked Wines: Six-bottle cases from £81.94 or £60.94 for members, Naked Wines
This club prides itself on its ability to hunt out the best wines among the smallest independent wine-makers, and it does so with skill. If you become a member and pay £20 a month to fund these wineries, you get a 25 to 50 per cent discount on retail prices, although there was a waiting list to join at the time we wrote this. Members - who the company call “angels” - get a free bottle every month when they order a case and invitations to wine tastings. Cases from this club are consistently delicious, and with a Naked Wines logo stamped on every bottle, you feel you’re trying something you couldn’t get anywhere else.
3. Stone, Vine & Sun Doorstep Dozen: 12-bottle cases from £90 to £150, Stone, Vine & Sun
The simplicity of this club is its beauty. There are four types of plan to choose from and all cases include two bottles of each wine, meaning you get slightly less variety than some other clubs. The wine will be picked from both the old and new world, with a particular emphasis on Rhône, Burgundy, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire Valley, South Africa and South America. Order every month, every other month or quarterly. There is no yearly contract and you can choose to skip a month, so it is less of a commitment than some other clubs.
4. Virgin Wines: Bottles from around £8.99, first 12-bottle case is £59.88 then £119.88 a case after that, Virgin Wines
The Virgin Wine Bank is the most flexible club we tried because you can pick out your own wines from a huge selection. Members pay a chosen amount into their account each month, and for every £5 you add, the company gives you £1 in credit. You will also get free delivery on every order and you’re guaranteed your money back if you don't like a bottle.
5. Berry Bros and Rudd: Plans from £60, Berry Bros and Rudd
These wines, all selected by the brand’s eight “Masters of Wine”, are of a good quality. The company, which is over 300 years old, has 40 of its own different wine ranges, all from classic wine regions. Members receive a case of 12 bottles every other month and you also get tasting notes and food pairings, with plenty of dinner party ideas. And there’s a 10 per cent discount on anything you buy online.
6. Monopole: Six bottle cases from around £100, Monopole
Only consider this club if you’re prepared to pay £15-£40 a bottle, or fork out for fine wines costing even more. It offers a private tasting room in Porchester place in west London where club members can join wine tastings or use the space privately. Membership costs a hefty £500, although this is redeemable against the cost of the wine you buy.
7. The Daily Drinker Wine Club: From £85 for three two-bottle deliveries, or from £145 for two six bottle deliveries, The Daily Drinker
This wine club aims to keep you away from the "tried and tested" wine regions out there. Two specially selected new wines are introduced into the range each month, one red and one white, with a rosé in May. Members can choose between having six-bottle deliveries every three months for six months or for a year. You can also choose to have your wine delivered in two-bottle packages. They specialise in single grape wines, saying it makes it easier for drinkers to understand and appreciate the wine, making it a great option for those new to the wine world.
8. Averys: 12-bottle cases from £109.99, Averys
Members have three options to choose from. The Signature Collection is like other wine clubs, in that you get a case of 12 wines (plus one free), including new or popular wines, for £109.99. Fans of reds from Bordeaux can also try the Claret Club, which costs £149.99 for 12 bottles. Then there’s a luxury Cellar Club option for wine connoisseurs — a specially selected six-bottle case for £165. Beware that delivery costs £7.99 though.
9. Adnams: 12-bottle cases from £89, Adnams
With cases from £89, this is a good option if you're on a budget, and the wine is of a good standard. You can choose from three price bands, either £89, £135 or £180 per case, and you can select whether you'd like to receive all reds, all whites, or a mixed case of both. As a wine club member you will also receive a 10 per cent discount in the online shop.
The Verdict: Wine clubs
The Wine Society is unparalleled in quality and value for us. The customer service is great and they operate on an ‘opt in’ basis, rather than an ‘opt out’ one, meaning you do not get hassled to buy more. The one-off £40 fee is well worth it, so don’t be put off.
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