Tasha Brandstatter on October 10, 2016 0 Comments Photo Credit: Blue Apron Subscription boxes are all the rage these days — just sign up online and get everything from clothes and make-up to food and gadgets delivered to your home on a regular basis. Naturally, where there’s a trend, there’s booze, and wine subscription boxes are a fun way to try out new wines, with less financial risk than with traditional wine clubs. Here’s why: Most wine subscriptions offer you a choice in what wine you get, either giving you a quiz to match their wines with your personal taste, or letting you preview the wines and switch out the ones you don’t want — or both! The guarantee on wines and shipping is much better than you find with wine retailers, online or off. Nearly all of them guarantee the quality of their wines on delivery, something regular online retailers like K&L won’t do. Several of them will not only guarantee the quality of the wine, but guarantee that you’ll like it and refund your money if you don’t. Try doing that at your local liquor store! Prices vary, but most wine subscriptions average between $13-15 per bottle, not including shipping (which is usually about $10). Whether you’re a long-time wine lover who knows exactly what you like, or the only thing you know about wine is that it comes in red and white, there’s a wine club out there for you. Here’s a quick rundown of the most popular. 1. Winc (formerly known as Club W) Website: Visit Winc Here Price: Around $52/month, depending on how many and what kinds of bottles you order. Pros: This is one of the most popular wine subscriptions out there, and it’s easy to see why. The tasting quiz is fun and easy, and most wines have a sommelier tasting video and very detailed tasting notes so you can get a good idea of what you’re getting before it arrives. It’s simple to skip or change an order, and you get a $10 credit for every 10 wines you rate. Plus, you can do EVERYTHING on their app, from rate wines to track your next shipment. Cons: A bit of a limited selection, and most of it is from obscure — or should I say “up-and-coming”? — wine regions. If you favor Old World wines from France and Italy you’ll be disappointed. About half of the wines appealed to our palate and the other half were meh. Last but not least, there’s no way to search for wines by region or varietal on the website. 2. Tasting Room Website: Visit Tasting Room Here Price: $10 for the tasting kit (unless you find a coupon online), and then $29.99/2 bottles, $79.99/6 bottles, or $149/12 bottles, plus $10 shipping, every 1, 2, or 3 months. Pros: Tasting Room sets itself apart by combining a tasting quiz with an actual wine tasting, which is really fun. Once you complete the guided wine tasting online, they send you bottles based on your flavor profile. It’s super easy to change your ship dates and preferences, and they let you preview and switch out the bottles they recommend. You can find your tasting profile, with lots of useful tips on varietals, regions, and food pairings, in your account settings. A good choice for people who don’t know much about wine. Cons: Pricey, especially with the added shipping. There’s no app to easily rate the wines and some users complain the wines Tasting Room selects for them are not to their tastes and don’t match their tasting profiles. Skipping a month is easy, but to cancel you have to email them and pass on an extended series of hard sells. 3. Blue Apron Wine Website: Visit Blue Apron Here Price: $65.99/month, plus tax and shipping, for 6 bottles. Pros: The wines are selected to pair with Blue Apron’s monthly meals, which sounds perfect for their meal subscribers. The tasting cards are a nice addition. Canceling or skipping an order is super easy. Cons: While $66 for 6 bottles (don’t forget shipping) may seem like a good deal, the bottles are only 500ml (“perfect for two people,” Blue Apron explains), so you’re not getting a full bottle of wine. You also get what you get: there’s no tasting quiz or choice in what you receive, not even in whether you get red, white, or a mix thereof. The quality of the wines can be a mixed bag, ranging from pretty good to “let’s use this one for cooking.” 4. Vinebox Website: Visit Vinebox Here Price: $35/month for “wine by the glass,” aka 3 single-serve flacons of wine. Pros: If you live by yourself, or you’re the only wine drinker in your house, you might be loath to open a bottle of wine knowing it will sit in the fridge for a while. If that’s the case, this might be the wine subscription for you! (Or you could just buy some of those Vacuvin wine stoppers, but hey.) Cons: The serving size is small by US standards, only 3.5 ounces. That makes the $35 price tag pretty outrageous, especially considering most of the wines Vinebox sends retail in the $15-$20 range for a full bottle. Plus, you have no choice in the wines at all, not even in whether you’d prefer red or white. Only one of the three glasses we received was unusual and tasty enough to be worth the effort and price. 5. Bright Cellars Website: Visit Bright Cellars Here Price: $60/month for 4 bottles, plus $8 shipping. Pros: Bright Cellars gets an A++ in packaging: their box arrived with each wine individually wrapped like presents, and they included a nice poster printed on thick cardstock with recommended wine serving temperatures. The wines received so far have been good quality for the price. This subscription is probably the best at matching an individual’s taste buds to the wines they receive. Cons: The end-user experience is frustrating for a variety of reasons. You can’t find out when your next ship date is or how much it’s going to cost on your account page. And while you can cancel or skip shipments “at any time,” there’s no easy way to do it. You have to call them on the phone, which seems ridiculous for an internet-based company in 2016 (you can also try email, but our emails received delivery failure notice bounce-back messages). Overall this box service is very similar to Winc, only more expensive and lacking in transparency and ease of use. 6. Firstleaf (formerly Food & Wine Wine Club) Website: Visit Firstleaf Here Price: After the introductory offer, the price is $79/6 bottles, plus $10 shipping. Pros: The introductory offer is super affordable: $7 per bottle even with shipping. You can select whether you want domestic or international wines, or a mix of both, unusual for these sorts of wine clubs. Cons: Firstleaf is trying to move a traditional wine club into the 21st century, but its efforts seem desultory at best. The so-called tasting profile quiz is incredibly basic, essentially just asking how much wine you drink a month and whether you prefer red or white and domestic or international. Users can rate their wines online, but there’s no app to do it easily from your phone. The wines received are definitely good for $7, but are they worth $15? Probably not. There’s also no easy way to cancel and you can’t preview and switch out wines. 7. inClub by inVino Website: Visit inClub by inVino Here Price: $49, $89, or $149 dollars every month, 2 months, or quarter. Pros: Absolutely the most flexible wine subscription out there, inClub lets you choose the wine you want based on price point, region, grape variety, and type. Only want high-end Champagne? You got it. Obsessed with everyday rosé? They’ll send you a box of it every month. Want wine from Jura, France’s most obscure wine region? There’s an option for that. Plus, you can change it up at any time and order special occasion sparklers for the holidays before switching to white wines for whenever. InVino’s wine guarantee is the most generous of any wine subscription we’ve come across — they even let you return unopened bottles! Cons: There’s no guarantee on how many wines you’ll get per shipment, just that they’ll fit the price point. You can’t see when your next ship date is in your account settings, and even though it’s easy to skip shipments at any time, there’s no easy way to completely cancel your account.