By Hannah Kearney
It is no secret that the world of wine can be extremely daunting to many people. The skill set and expertise that goes along with being a wine professional (or even confidently conversing with one) is vast and intimidating. As a 22 year-old with a short few months of industry experience under my belt, I undoubtedly agree with this notion (my mom likes to to call me a ‘just-harvested grape bunch’). Yet I chose this industry because wine is magical and sophisticated and delicious and I believe it will keep me curious. As I embark on this challenging career-path (with the lovely CCA team at my side), the experiences to have and the content to study seem infinite and because of this, I am determined to sustain the magic and leisure I feel from the sound of a bottle opening or my first sip of a great rosé throughout my research.
This is why I’ve been on the search for engaging, affordable ways to develop my palate and wine knowledge, and how I stumbled upon the salvation for me, which are wine subscription boxes. I must note that in the age of Amazon Prime, Uber and Postmates, it makes sense that wine subscription boxes are becoming popular among consumers. However, as I read articles about the alcohol beverage industry’s transition into the world of same-day home delivery, I, among many others feel a bit uneasy about how this will affect the ways we sell and consume luxury-packaged goods like wine and spirits. Will we slowly lose touch with the intimate experience of walking into wine shop and consulting with an expert on our preferences and the quality of wines? Will small, independent wine shops stay in business? Will winery visits remain sought-after celebratory activities? Can an Amazon bot detect the quality of a wine the same way a human professional can? I guess we will have to wait and see. However, as times are changing, it is important for the industry to keep up with what young consumers are paying attention to and investing their money in. What I can say confidently about the subscription boxes I recommend below is that all of them keep the ‘hand-picked by humans with a heart-beat’ aspect intact and offer tasting notes written by their team of expert wine nerds. I also believe they are incredibly convenient and (somewhat) cost-efficient for wine drinkers looking to expand their label/ category familiarity and a fun, trendy holiday gift idea for wine friends. Here’s a guide to help subscribers pick the right box that deliver delicious wines and offer a wide variety of categories and brands:
How it works: Subscribers are asked to answer 6 questions about their wine flavor preferences and the Winc team will curate wines that suit their palate and are delivered monthly. Winc is known for partnering with funky, lesser-known wine brands and many of them have beautiful labels that can be perfect for DIY home décor.
What it costs: bottles start at $13
What you get: 4 or 6 bottle monthly subscription tailored to fit your preferences on nose and flavor.
How it works: Subscribers fill out a preference survey and VineBox will send glass-sized quantities from around the world based on the survey to doorsteps. This is especially great for a consumer looking to have a taste of new wines before purchasing a whole bottle.
What it costs: Starts at $29 for first month
What you get: 3-6 hand selected wines by the glass each month packaged in sleek tubular packaging.
How it works: This is a box that delivers a wine and food pairing to subscribers’ door each month. This one’s great for pairing-and-cheese fans, but not so great if you’re looking for multiple bottles in a box.
What it costs: $70 for 1 month sub, $68/box for 3 month sub, $65/box for 6 month sub, and $63/ box for 12 month sub
What you get: 1 bottle of wine, charcuterie and cheese and tasting notes.
How it works: Ninety + Cellars allows subscribers to choose between their red, mixed/rose? or white wine clubs and only partners with 90+ scored wines. The service includes free shipping, tasting notes, and discount coupons during weekly promotions. This is great for consumers who particularly care about scores.
What it costs: $50 for 3 bottles, $95 for 6
What you get: 3-6 90+ point bottles delivered quarterly
How it works: subscribers choose 6 bottles every 6 weeks or 12 bottles every 8 weeks and choose between all red, all white or a mixed pack box.
What it costs: $49.99- $89.99 / month
What you get: 6-12 bottles hand-picked by Martha Stewart delivered quarterly. The box includes exclusive serving, pairing, and entertaining suggestions written by Martha and if subscribers don’t love the wine, the wine club will replace it for free.