The Complete Guide to Wine Clubs For Beginners

Sarah PritzkerBySarah PritzkerSep. 19, 2019
Wine clubs are a great place to start if you're new to the world of wines
Wine should be something to enjoy and savor, but some people can make you feel nervous to even choose a bottle of house red. If you’re feeling overawed by self-declared “wine experts” who chatter on about “bouquet” and tell you which wine not to drink with your chicken dinner, wine clubs for beginners could be your salvation.

The best beginner wine clubs are a great way for novice wine drinkers to get to know different types and flavors of wines. If you already enjoy a good bottle of wine, but you aren’t quite sure what you prefer, or you want to broaden your tastes to different grape varieties and winemaking methods, wine clubs are still a good choice. Wine clubs give you the opportunity to taste wines you might never have picked off the shelf, and to try top-rated vineyards and winemakers who you may not otherwise have heard of.

At the very least, once you’ve tried a range of different wines through a wine club, you’ll have the confidence to order from the wine menu when you’re out with friends.

Why You Should Subscribe to a Wine Club 

A wine club is meant to give you a steady series of new wines to try, with anything from weekly, monthly or quarter year delivery and some level of personalization as to what kind of wine and flavors you might like. There are many levels of quality as well, with opportunities for expensive or rare wines that might be hard to find (or afford) on your own. 

Here are the top 3 reasons a wine club could be a good fit for you:

1. It’s easy and customized 

You’ll be able to manage your wine club account online and select only the types of wines you want to try or already prefer. Only like white wine? You can do that too. You’ll be able to write and read wine reviews, skip a delivery if you’re on vacation, or order extra if you’re planning a party. It’s all about you, and the more you order and give feedback, the more tailored your deliveries will get. 

2. It’s affordable 

Take advantage of the discounts the wine club services get by buying nice wines in bulk and selling them as a package to you. There are fewer players in the pie, as the companies often buy directly from vineyards rather than distribution companies as liquor stores do. There are also re-ordering discounts offered through many wine clubs, which means you can get your favorite wines, even cheaper. Some wine clubs for beginners offer a sign-up discount, too, making it a low-risk buy for your first time. 

3. It’s diverse and selected by wine experts

Wine clubs offer a huge range of wines that you won’t find in your corner liquor store or grocery. If you’re an expert or a wine rookie, you’ll be able to find something to broaden your wine palate. You’ll find wines from the top vineyards in the world from all regions, as well as boutique wineries and single-grape producers that wouldn’t usually be accessible to someone who didn’t already know of them. 

What to Expect From Wine Clubs

Wine at your front door every month or quarter? Yes please. 

With the best wine clubs, you can expect personal service, from wine types and colors to frequency and price, amazing value, savings, and flexibility to change your preferences. You can increase or change deliveries or cancel when you want. 

Start with trying the wine you’re sent. Once you enjoy it (at home, on the beach, at a party, or for the holidays), submit a rating and refine your results for your next shipment based on what you like best. Each box is increasingly tailored to you. The best wine clubs for beginners will also offer 100% money-back guarantees, easy unsubscription and even a wine return policy for any individual box or bottle you don’t want. Firstleaf, for example, will credit you right away if you’re dissatisfied. 

Many beginners’ wine clubs will also include educational materials about the bottles they’ve included, often with a summary or description of the grapes, methodology, and local. Rather than drinking a random bottle, you can really get to know your wine and understand how it got to you. 

How to Choose The Wine Club That’s Best For You

When you’re starting out with a beginner wine club, it pays to choose one based on only the factors that are important to you. Do you want a totally customized experience or a local winery’s monthly selections? Do you want US wines, or international flavors from all over? What’s your price point and desired delivery frequency? If you’re looking for 5 bottles a month, you may want a different wine subscription than if you want only 3 every few months.

If you expect to host a few parties, you may want a plan that offers at-will delivery of extra boxes. Price might be a large factor, but consider that most plans offer a money-back guarantee, so if you’re not satisfied with the value you’re receiving, there’s always another plan out there. Compare all the top wine clubs for beginners and pick the one that highlights the things that are important to you. 

How to Register for a Wine Club

Each wine club has a unique online sign up. Some are more like an online ecommerce store, where you select the membership type and plan you want, add it to your cart and then purchase by providing your credit card information and mailing address. Most will accept all major credit cards. 

Other wine clubs for beginners work by starting the process with a quiz to determine which wines to send and finalize the plan that’s right for you. You’ll then submit mailing and payment details and receive an introductory box, which you then provide feedback on to improve your selections even further. Winc, for example, offers a 6 question quiz with questions such as, “How do you like your coffee?” and “Do you like earthy flavors like mushrooms and black-truffles?” in order to help you select the right plan before you pay. 

Wine Club Pricing 

You’’ll find different prices for each wine club based largely on the personalization options you’ve chosen. More wine, or more quality bottles, will obviously be more expensive than a quarterly bottle or budget wine choices. Shipping is often free, or free for members. Monthly costs range from about $30 to $200+ based on the plans and wine you choose. Some providers will charge per bottle or per box prices, with prices as low as about $5 per bottle. No matter what your price point is, if you’re ready to try new wine, there’s something out there for you. 

Beginners’ Wine Clubs FAQ

In case your questions haven’t been answered yet in this beginners’ guide, here’s a short list of the most frequently asked questions asked to our top providers: 

What happens if I don’t like the wine I’ve received? 

Each wine club service has a different policy, but overall you’ll find responsive customer service and satisfaction guarantees on every bottle and shipment you get. If you’re not happy, contact the company and they’ll likely refund you, mail you a replacement or add an additional bottle to your next shipment. 

Can I pause my membership when I’m traveling away from home?

Yes. Wine clubs allow you to pause and resume service as soon as you get back from your trip. There’s no penalty, and no wondering who could stop at your stoop to store your wine until you get back. 

Can I get a wine club subscription as a gift for someone? 

Yes! Wine clubs make excellent gifts, though some states do not allow alcohol to be shipped at someone else's request to another consumer. Make sure your recipient’s state is covered by 

the wine club you’re considering, and then ship away! Some providers offer cards or gift announcements you can give before the boxes start arriving, while others will gift wrap and dress up the actual shipment. You can choose their wine for them, or select a plan that will allow your friend to customize their own plan. ‘

What if I want to stop receiving a wine subscription? 

If you’re ready to end your subscription, you can cancel at any time. You pay for each shipment when it comes, so there is no need to pay for anything you haven’t received or get any kind of reimbursement.  As soon as you cancel your subscription, you’ll stop getting shipments and being charged for them. 

Sarah PritzkerBySarah PritzkerJun. 13, 2019
Sarah Pritzker has years of experience and a keen interest in researching and reviewing the vast world of online consumer products. She enjoys helping readers make sense of the options on the market in industries including dating, DNA, meal delivery and psychic reading.