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You won’t waste a drop with this affordable and clever wine subscription

Sending taster-sized vino samples for you to fall in love with, By the Glass is exactly what it says on the tin

Emma Henderson
Wednesday 30 June 2021 15:27 BST
The vino you receive will last two weeks in the packages, and your first box is free
The vino you receive will last two weeks in the packages, and your first box is free (iStock/The Independent)

During the past year, we’ve all signed up to subscriptions to make our shopping easier, whether that’s one for plastic-free teabags, loo roll, beauty boxes, flowers, books or cocktails. But did you sign up for a wine subscription? I did, after trying the Wine List a few months ago, which has now been added to my fairly long list of subscriptions.

The idea behind Wine List is to "taste, rather than just drink", helping you to order better wine when you’re out (we all hate that feeling of spending an OTT amount on a bottle we’d never order again). But this is a subscription with a difference, as not only does it select more unusual wines that you likely won’t be familiar with (move over New Zealand sauvignon blanc) but it also helps you learn about wine with its 12 month course, Wine Roots, aimed at amateur enthusiasts. It covers everything from the basics of how to taste to the importance of climate, region and styles. It’s cleverly designed for people who want to know more about wine, but don’t have time to do a qualification or are put off by the stuffiness of the wine world. This is at home, in your own time.

Although, have you ever just wished that instead of receiving a whole bottle, you could just try a glass? Perhaps you live on your own and don’t get through a full bottle before it goes a bit off, or sometimes the wine’s not quite for you and you feel wasteful not finishing it? We’ve all been there. Well, now you can enjoy "just the one" with this subscription. The Wine List’s latest offering is called By The Glass, and sends out small glass size pouches of the good stuff for you to taste and learn about. I tried out the brand’s new offering to see how it fares.

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Wine List By The Glass subscription box

Wine List – By The Glass subscription box indybest.jpeg

Buy now £15 (plus postage),

Arriving in letterbox-friendly packaging is the dream for any subscription you recieve. Although many of us are still working from home, when we’re not, it means we can still get our goods delivered without worrying about them being left on our doorstep or taken to a depot that’s only open at annoying times, risking missing out on the vino.

Landing on my mat was three little pouches of wine – two white and one red. The trial box (which is the one I received) is made up of three favourite wines from the virtual Wine Cellar list on the website, which you can rebuy if you really like them (I assure you that’s pretty likely). After that box, two of the choices follow from the main full wine bottle subscription, and the third is again from the Wine Cellar. Each wine you receive comes with a tasting card, including information such as where it’s made, the climate and grape variety, along with the winemaker story (this is 2021, we all like to know provenance), suggested food pairing and trivia, which will no doubt set you up for your next quiz.

After opening my box, my first thoughts were the pouches are fairly small. I think that suggests I’m greedy more than anything, as in fairness, they are marketed as "small" glasses of wine. But when I pour the contents into my usual wine glass (albeit, I use a large gin glass…), it looks decidedly smaller than my usual self-poured measure.

The red is from Bulgaria – true to the Wine List’s form, it’s not a red I’d usually pick, nor see in supermarkets, or many restaurants, unless it had a really good wine list. It’s made from the ruen grape which, again, is not one I’m familiar with, but after tasting am very much into, thanks to its flavour bursting with blackberries that is incredibly smooth and deep in colour. It’s aged in Bulgarian oak and is the last vintage overseen by the grandfather of the current vineyard owner before passing away aged 85. Who doesn’t love details like this?

Read more: This wine subscription taught me how to taste vino properly

The first of the whites I’d actually already received in my first Wine List bottle subscription box a few months ago, the Quinta da Ribeirinha’s vale de lobos reserva white 2018. Made from four grapes: sauvignon blanc, verdelho, chardonnay and gewurztraminer, the winemaker is all about long-term sustainable farming. On the nose it’s fruity with notes of lychee making it perfect for summer. It’s creamy and full bodied, but still extremely easy to drink and is gone pretty quickly.

Last up is another unexpected yet welcomed wine: a riesling from Czech Republic. Riesling is a resurrected relic from the Eighties of cheap and oh-so sweet wine but now it’s way more grown up. This one is just pure apricot for me with notes of citrus and is nicely acidic on the palette too, and is something I’ll absolutely be looking out for in shops and wine lists from now on too.

Creating a wine subscription that doesn’t involve wine bottles is also a better way of shipping wine, as bottles are heavy and more expensive to ship. Wines will last two weeks in the packages, you can cancel anytime, and your first box is free – all you need to do is pay the £4 postage. Boxes are usually £15 plus £4 postage, but for three glasses, that’s an awful lot cheaper than going out for wine. And if there’s a glass you really like, you can order a full bottle from the online shop and be confident it’s money well spent.

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The verdict: Wine List’s By The Glass subscription

I think the Wine List’s By The Glass subscription is a great opportunity to also share learning about wine with your friends, whether that’s over zoom or in real life. You can follow the online tastings on the Wine Lists’ YouTube channel too, for whichever wine you receive so it feels very much like a lesson, and isn’t just something that falls by the wayside. It’s an incredibly affordable way to learn about wine in your own time, with pals and without leaving your house, so get pouring.

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Bored of your go-to vino? Try our best natural wine subscription boxes which are worth signing up for

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