The real question is, which one is right for you? We’ve set them against each other, comparing the most important factors in wine club sign-up to help you figure out which one suits you best.
Here’s what you need to know:
Bright Cellars doesn’t share much about itself on the website, a crying shame for such an interesting company! This Milwaukee, Wisconsin based wine-tech company started only a few years ago with some Facebook ads and a minimally viable product ready for under-the-radar customer testing, and has grown to selling over a million bottles of top-quality wine. MIT grad founders, Richard Yau and Joe Laurendi, both say they knew more about beer than wine when they started, but after taking a two semester wine class in university, knew it was time to understand the industry better and share that with casual wine drinkers all over.
Winc is technically a winery, giving customers access to local and international wines of spectacular quality. COO Brian Smith is his own name in wine, as an experienced sommelier and winemaker, and it’s easy to tell the focus of this company is on the wine offerings. Winc launched as Club W in 2012 and rebranded to the name Winc in 2016. Winc ships out over 200,000 cases of wine per year, or about 1 million glasses of wine per month. Wincs basic bottles start at just $13, making it a really affordable option for almost any wine shopper.
Bright Cellars: Bright Cellars’ subscription box includes 4 customized wines for $80, making it a top-range monthly wine club. You also pay $8 shipping. If you’re interested in paying for individual bottles above your 4 per month, as a gift, or you just want a 1 bottle shipment, you’ll pay $20 for that bottle. The wine can’t be found anywhere else, so it’s hard to price compare, but you’ll get $50 off your first box, which doesn’t hurt. You can also get a gift membership for a friend or family member for $75 per month, $150 for two, etc. Bright Cellars also offers a member rewards program, where you can save points for free bottles.
Winc: Winc’s package is slightly smaller than Bright Cellars, but they make up for it with a 4th bottle discount and free shipping from the 4th bottle. Individual bottles are just $13, and shipping is $9 per shipment, but only for shipments of 3 or less. Winc has a special for 4 bottles with $22 off your order, drastically reducing your price down below the 3 bottle regular plan. Looking to save money on this winery’s finest? With these low prices, it’s pretty easy to get good wine at reasonable costs. Gifts start at $60, which with these prices, can get your friend two months (8 bottles total). Sounds like a steal.
With those low prices? Winc stole this one, with its 4 bottle package falling under half of Bright Cellars’. However, Bright Cellars does offer a first time discount that lowers the price for your first shipment, and the gift package is even cheaper than the regular one. Why? We’re really not sure, but it could be it’s time to buy yourself a gift.
2. Wine Selection
Bright Cellars: Only 1 in 12 wines tried by the Bright Cellars team of vinters makes the list and into your monthly collections. Your choices are selected from among those 1 in 12 to best fit your tastes and preferences, so if you’re up for adventure or would rather stay with wine that’s close to what you know, there are options for that. The focus is on finding hidden gems from all over the world’s top wine-making locations, including Italy, Spain, South America, Portugal and California. In addition to the wine, Bright Cellars has a cute gift-shop-style selection of cheese boards, t-shirts with snappy phrases related to wine, and coasters, so you don’t drip any of the red magic on your sofa (or coffee table).
Winc: Winc is not just a wine selling startup; it’s a winery run by an expert sommelier. The team curates over a hundred wines from all over the world with a selection easily displayed on the website with pictures and lovely descriptions, such as “Brambly, Vibrant, Crowd Pleaser” or “Oaky, Bold, Food Friendly.” Our favorite? “Complex, round, geeky.” If you’re looking for vegan or eco-friendly, there’s no comparison. Everything is sorted by color and wine type, so it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. Like cider? It has that too. If you want to sort by country, Winc has sections for French, Argentinian, Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish wine, though that’s not the only wine they offer by far. They have categories you may not have heard of, which makes the quiz-based selection process that much more important and helpful. Into bubbles? Time to celebrate; it has that too.
Once again, Winc blows it out of the water. The selection is clearly laid out on the site, broad, interesting and super reasonably priced, going up into the $30 range for these hand selected choices. Bright Cellars is keeping pace, with wines from all over the world, but it would be nice to see more details about the wines offered on the website.
3. Delivery and Flexibility
Bright Cellars: Bright Cellars ships via UPS or FedEx, and as with any wine subscription, packages must be received by an adult over 21 years old. It’s able to arrange for your shipment to be held at a UPS or FedEx branch for you if you won’t be home to receive the package, so you can pick it up and sign for it at your convenience. You can also send your wine to your workplace. If your package has been marked as delivered, the concierge team can’t make more changes your order. But you can cancel shipments or make changes to your account up to 24 hours after ordering a shipment. Gift cards are not refundable, but if your friend doesn’t like wine, Bright Cellars recommends enjoying it yourself.
Winc: Shipping with Winc takes 3-7 days via FedEx, and packages should be delivered to a place where an available adult over 21 years can sign for it. You can choose to skip a delivery anytime for free, and though there’s no commitment, you do have to actually call in or live chat with an associate in order to cancel your account; there’s no easy online opt-out. You can order custom gift packages, which is a plus, and shipping costs are free if you got more than 4 bottles.
WINNER: Bright Cellars
Bright Cellars ships via both UPS and FedEx offering details about exactly when you can change your order, what happens during extreme weather (your shipment may be delayed) and how you can best work within any shipping limitations. It also will arrange for your wine to be held at a shipping company branch for pick up, which means one less thing you need to deal with directly. Just show up and get your wine.
4. Customer Service and Guarantee
Bright Cellars: Bright Cellars has a wine concierge team available by phone, 9 am to 5 pm CT, or by email, with a pledge to try to get back to you within 24 hours. Your request is time stamped, and they respond as quickly as possible no matter what. Most items are not refundable, but if you receive a defective or damaged item Bright Cellars may refund the item at its discretion if notified within 30 days of your having received the wine. Delivered packages are otherwise not eligible for returns, so the company recommends that you save your order receipt every month. Bright Cellars also reserves the right to send you messages via SMS, MMS, text message or other electronic means via automated telephone dialing system, which you can opt out of. Receiving those messages is not a prerequisite for purchasing the wine.
Winc: Winc offers customer support via a comprehensive Help Center, available 24/7. You can reach out over text message or Facebook Messenger for help, or call the company 6 am to 5 pm PT, Monday through Friday, or Saturday and Sunday 7 am to 4 pm PT. If you email them, you’ll get a reply within 24 hours.
Winc is the reigning champion in this category, beating Bright Cellars here. Weekend customer service simply rules the court here, and the text messaging and Facebook access beats the competition by far. Bright Cellars customer service is good with a 24 hour turnaround time, and the advantage of being on Central Time, which is easily accessible to the whole country.
OVERALL WINNER: Winc
Winc beats the competition here, though both offer options that could suit your wine club preferences. Winc has superb customer service, excellent wine selections and fantastic prices. Bright Cellars rules though, when it comes to shipping details and flexibility. If you’re not ready to choose one of these great wine subscription companies, read reviews of more top-notch choices or dig into the competition on our comparison page.