Jeff Flowers on October 7, 2013 3 Comments Wine clubs are a popular trend for the most adventurous wine lovers. Once you join, these clubs send their members various bottles of wine to try based on their selected preferences. There are a couple different types of wine clubs out there, so before you join the first one you find, it would be wise to weigh your options and find the right one for you. Here’s some of our tips to help you select the best wine club for your wine preference, expertise and budget. Types of Wine Clubs Winery Wine Clubs — Many wineries have their own special wine club they would like you to join. One advantage is the attentiveness winery wine clubs give their members. There are special events just for members, exclusive visits to the wine center or tasting rooms, as well as discounts or complimentary bottles of wine every year. Some exclusive wineries issue bottles of a Vintner’s Reserve or a Grand Reserve to their club members. The main disadvantage of winery wine clubs is that members select only from that winery’s stock. If you’re a big fan of a specific winery, then this might be the best type of wine club for you. Wine-of-the-Month Clubs — Another popular type of wine club simply mails you a bottle of wine every month. This wine-of-the-month club is for those who find the social aspect of wine not as important as the wine itself. These clubs often specialize in fine wine at great discounts and represent the broadest possible spectrum of wine. While a winery offers the same few wines that repeat every year, a wine-of-the-month club ships wine to your door and usually has international offerings. Some allow you to specify a preference, such as red or white, Shiraz or Chardonnay, for instance. The main disadvantage to this type of wine club is the lack of control over what you get. If you happen to dislike white wine, and the club ships six bottles of Chardonnay from six different countries that month, then there is not usually an option to return them. If, however, adventure and sampling an international palate is your thing, a wine-of-the-month club may be the right choice for you. Local Wine Clubs — Local wine clubs are another popular option. These usually have a wide range of rules making each one slightly different, but they all typically combine the members-only exclusivity with the convenience of wine-of-the-month club delivery. Some allow you to tailor choices to personal preferences. One regional club we’re familiar with allows you to choose from among five options, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon, classic red wine, white wine, dessert wine or bit of everything. Making a Selection To decide the right fit, you must first determine your personal wine style. Are you the social sort who enjoys the hint of exclusivity that wineries offer? If so, do you live near a vineyard or a winery? If you live in Fairbanks, Alaska but have a Napa Valley style, the first choice is probably not an option for you. Second, consider your price range. Some clubs focus on quality. Would you rather spend $100 three times per year and taste rare vintages, or spend $100 per year on a membership fee and get a bottle of wine every month? Style and price are two ways to further narrow your club selection. Think about the type of wine you enjoy most and when you enjoy it. Do you love rich, hearty reds with a full body, or do you prefer crisp whites? Do you drink mostly American wines or are you more adventurous? If the latter is true, consider a club that offers international options. Perhaps you want to start your own club if your choices are very specific, such as enjoying sweet reds after dessert. Budgetary Considerations Make sure you understand all the costs involved with the wine club. Is there a sign-up fee in addition to a membership fee? Does your membership include shipping? Ask if there is a minimum number of months you have to belong to the club to get certain discounts. Find out if there is a penalty for returns or a cancellation of membership. You should also ask if there’s an auto-renewal to your wine membership. Find out the length of the average membership. Do most members leave after a year or do they stay long-term? Find out if there are benefits to keeping a membership for a longer period of time. This can sometimes be an indication to how hard the club works to keep its members happy. The Truth About Wine Clubs There are many benefits to joining a wine club, but at the same time, there can be many disadvantages to them as well. The thing to remember, is that if you drink a lot of wine, then you may be able to save a little bit of money by joining a wine club. If you don’t, then it may not be the right choice for you. The last thing you want to happen is that you get committed to a club that you want to get out of for whatever reason but can’t due to the fine print within the membership. Your club selection should stem from personal style, budget and taste. Just be sure to do the proper amount of research on a club before joining, then your choice should be simple to make.