Beginners Corner

Snooth User: tb76

Mail order wine club reccomendations

Posted by tb76, Oct 14, 2011.

I am looking to join a mail order wine club to increase my options of tasing more wine. Is anyone a member of a quality club they would reccomend? At this time I have not limited my search to a particular region or varietal.

Replies

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Reply by 1 jayjay, Oct 14, 2011.

i would recommend Laithwaites wine , its an english company but i think they are now in the US

give them a try they have a very good range of wines from all over the world

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 14, 2011.

I recommend against wine clubs except for those from specific wineries that you like, or your local wine shop, assuming you have one that you like.  I had a bottle that was sent to my father from the WSJ club that was absolutely cooked--the cork had been pushed up in the neck and when we opened the wine, it had plainly undergone another, unhealthy fermentation, as evidenced by the pop and fizz of CO2.  Any club that sends a bottle or 6 every month is putting them at weather risk in the vast majority of months.  They are a subscription fullfillment company, not a wine company, at least in the shipping aspect--get it there the same day every month so the customer doesn't call asking about it.

I also wonder about the attraction of buying wines you know nothing about and then reading notes about them written by the very club that is selling you the wine.  Invariably, they claim you are getting twice the wine for half the money, but what if you only like a third of it?  And who is charging those prices?  An awful lot of terrific wine sells at something quite a bit less than the MSRP without committing to drinking a bunch of potential swill, or even wines that just aren't your type.

Many wine shops offer 6 per month or 12 per month clubs.  WineHouseSF has "the dirty dozen," K&L has several "clubs" for different tastes and budgets.  You have to pick them up, for the most part, but who knows, you might learn something while you are in the store, or find something else you like.

That's my two cents worth.  Which normall retails for a nickel, but when you sign up for a daily rant...

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 14, 2011.

Here here, Fox.

tb, you could actually ask questions about what you are interested in drinking here on Snooth, and then buy just those bottles from perhaps your local wineshop but certainly online vendors like KL, to much greater satisfaction and cost efficiency....

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Reply by spikedc, Oct 15, 2011.

From being a complete wine novice I have now tasted a lot of different wines without joining any clubs. Snooth for me has been my main source of recommendations and information.

I'm always browsing around my local retailers and generally find them very helpful, I also go to as many local tastings as possible ( nothing like actually trying before buying).

My advice is to stick with Snooth, ask about certain wines and you can be certain of unbiased views.

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Reply by aderyn, Oct 15, 2011.

Wine.woot.com  Not exactly a club, but an outstanding source, at a true discount, with a wide variety and a highly knowledgeable group of participants.  I've learned more about wine just reading their forum than any other single source on the web, and discovered some amazing wines. 

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Reply by gibbo1, Oct 16, 2011.

I have some great wine from OZ (which you seem to like) available on line...have a look and I'll set you up on www.robgibsonwines.com if needed.The 2005 Eden Valley shiraz is a stunner ...guaranteed if shipped in cooler weather!

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Reply by ScottLauraH, Oct 17, 2011.

TB, I have to second, third and fourth the others who have recommended against mail order wine clubs.  My husband and I tried a regional "Wine of the Month" club for about six months, but the wines arrived on the same day of the month, no matter the season.  It was not good to arrive home and find our wine had been cooking outside in the August heat on our back porch for several hours.  We also joined a national mail order wine club.  With that one, about every third bottle was absolutely awful.  It was totally not worth the price. 

A better bet is take recommendations from others here on Snooth, then go to your local wine shop and build a mixed case to take home and try.  Most wine shops offer discounts on 12 or more bottles.  In fact, some even start discounts at six bottles.

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Reply by wino1173, Oct 17, 2011.

I rather disagree with most of these posts. Mail order wine clubs are a great way to get wines that you may not be able to get at the grocery store. In addition, it takes the overwhelming decision of which wines to buy next when you are at the grocery store and don't have a clue as to what wine to try. A reputable wine club will NOT deliver wine during hot summer months. I believe Wine Library has a wine club membership and I am fairly certain that they do not deliver during hot months. I actually purchase most of my wines through mail order either from Wine Library or the Vineyards themselves. Wine Library has a great selection of wines, offer outstanding deals, and Gary V has tasting notes on most of the wines. Good Luck and Cheers! 

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Reply by outthere, Oct 17, 2011.

Wine clubs in general tend to be clearing houses for wine that doesn't sell or labels that have no marketing. I have never had a wine from a wine club that even tempted me to finish the bottle lest buy more.  Seriously, you can do better with a good wine store that listens to your needs.

Or, try a broker. People often sell off parts of their wine collections to generate cash flow. Especially these days. You can use the secondary market suppliers such as Benchmark Wine Group, or BP Wine, or Hart Davis Hart to name a few. They have wines in all price ranges and in older vintages that give you a better idea of a wines aging potential. Just a thought.

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Reply by Balashazar, Oct 17, 2011.

Well, to each his/her own, but my 3 cents(inflation ya know) is you can get a better experience by visiting a local shop that specializes in wine.  Staff there will actually enjoy talking with you about what you like, have tried or varieties/vinyards to explore.  Saying something like "I'd like to try something new" has never failed to fill up my basket with exciting opportunities.  Shopping like this is so much fun.  Cheers!

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Reply by frosty1, Oct 20, 2011.

Lot 18  is a good site to try.  I think their descriptions are for the most part accurate and the prices seem fair.  good Luck

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Reply by 2 Wine Lovers, Oct 20, 2011.
Edited Dec 12, 2011

From 2 Wine Lovers:

Unfortunately, the state you live in will determine even IF a wine club can ship wine to you! 

But if you're in a place that hasn't tried to reinstitute 'prohibition', know that we've enjoyed being members of the California based "Wine of the Month Club that has 3 levels of membership: Classic, Vintners & Limited.  We get 1 bottle of red & 1 of white each month at the Classic & Vintner 'levels', then around Nov/Dec the club sends a 'Sparkling' & a 'Dessert' wine as a change of pace. 

We pay abt $10/btl (Classic) & about $15/btl (Vintner) plus nominal shipping via UPS (as a signature is required for receipt in our state). 

You can even put a 'vacation hold' on a shipment if you want just by calling its toll free #, combining it with the following month's selections.  In all the yrs we've been enjoying our monthly 'surprises', we've never rcvd a bottle that's suffered fm its west to east coast travel ... 'tho we do store them for at least 3 or 4 months at a minimum before trying them. 

Another nice thing abt the wines is that they're usually the kind we'd probably never come across or even think of trying ... so for us it's a lot of fun, pure and simple.

The monthly newsltr that comes with the wines is full of info re. each wine, the winery & winemaker PLUS we've gotten some great recipes that the head of the club personally tries out beforehand!  (We learned about that during a friendly phone call one time when we were putting a 'vacation hold' on our shipment. 

Check the club out at: 

www.WineoftheMonthClub.com

www.facebook.com/WineoftheMonthClub

Hope this helps!

 

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Reply by you1952008, Oct 24, 2011.

I agree that you can get a lot of you information here on snooth. Ask a question one day get several people's opinion on what you should try next. Then go out to your local wine shop and get it or ask their wine guy what the closest thing he has to it. I have been really pleased with the wine that I have purchased through lot18. Remeber that their goal is to sell you the wine. So they talked each bottle up as if it is the absolute best bottle ever. However, every bottle that I have receieved from them has been spectacular. I believe that when you purchase wine through Lot18, they (lot18) does not ship it to you. You receive the wine directly from the winery. So you can contact the winery if you would like to postpone shipping for a cooler day. Hope this helps!

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Reply by tb76, Oct 26, 2011.

Thank you for all the reccomendations. I have decided to do the following; 1) Follow Snooth 2) Join a local wine of the month club from one of three great retailers in my area..I will keep you posted...Thanks again.

 

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Reply by alobregon, Nov 4, 2011.

I went through the exact same thing you are going through in my journey with wine.  If you are just starting and are looking for some good values, try Cameron Hughes Wine online for their good value wines.  Haven't really had a bad wine yet from them.  On the other hand, I have purchased more crappy wine from Lot 18 than I care to admit.  Lastly, I agree with many of the comments on the local retailers.  Get to know the really good ones who specialize in French or Spanish or Cali Cab and tell them what you like and make sure they meet your needs!  Remember, many stores just want to sell their "hot" items (The Wine Library does this often) and their suggestions just don't fit your tastes!...Find one you really trust and stay with them and try all the wines your heart desires!!

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Reply by Nathan Ophardt, Nov 4, 2011.

If you like the mystery and surprise of someone helping you select your wine, consider signing up for a restaurant's wine program. We are members of Public Restaurant's Wine Mailbox Program. Every month we visit the restaurant to try a bottle of that month's selection. Not only do we get to enjoy fabulous wine, we are always treated like royalty. They are not the only one's doing it, either. The only caveat is that you must consume on-site (thank you, prohibition!) but that's also part of the fun. We wrote about the experience on our site. http://localvinacular.blogspot.com/2011/08/public-special-place-and-special-wine.html

Part of the fun of a wine club is being a member of something, but I agree with the others here that a mail program can be risky. Perhaps more restaurants will try the direction Public is doing in future. It's a neat concept.

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Reply by dtrumpet, Nov 4, 2011.

quick response:Laithwaite is a good one.

mail order is fun in that you get to try a lot of wines you might not ordinarily see, the downside of that is that when you try one you like, you probably won't find it near you, and you'll have to buy more from the wine club, and there aren't really any decent deals to be found there. My experience with Laithwaite is that most bottles are around $9-11 and are probably worth that. They are good solid wines, but not any better than you can find at a good wine shop.

So the bottom line is that they're kind of fun, but they don't beat a local tasting.

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Reply by jtryka, Jun 22, 2012.

This is a good question, and I agree with much of what's been said here.  There are two types of "clubs" in my mind, the kind that send you wines that you didn't personally choose, and the ones where you did choose.

I would not join any club that chooses wine for me unless it's from a winery specifically that i love.  I belong to two such clubs for wines from Walla Walla, since I've been a fan for more than a decade.  In those two cases (L'Ecole No. 41 and Seven Hills Winery), I love their wines and would be happy with any bottles they send .  Both send out selections only 3 times per year, so you don't have $50 bottles sitting on the front porch all day in August, and not only that, if the selection comes out at a time when the weather is too hot or cold, they will hold it until it's safe to ship.  These types of clubs also offer wine club exclusive or limited bottlings, so that you have even more chances to enjoy limited wines (under 100 case production) from your favorite wineries.

The second alternative isn't really a club per se, but rather just shopping at an online wine merchant.  One that I've really come to love is Wines Till Sold Out (WTSO.com), they are really just a wine liquidator but they offer wines from around the world and will leave them up until they sell them all out.  Usually it's an order of 4 or less bottles to get free shipping depending on the cost of the wine (for intstance, last night they had a $48 Brunello that is usually $120, but you only needed to order 2 bottles to get free shipping).  It's a nice way for those of us with ADD to try many wines from many regions from one website that is constantly changing (that's the fun!).  They are the same way as the wineries in that they will hold shipments if the weather is too hot or too cold, and they have the best customer service I've experienced in a long time.  I've had a few bad bottles now and again (been ordering for 2 years), and when there's a bad one, I just send an e-mail and usually my credit card account is credited for the bad bottles before I get the e-mail reply.  So a fun place to buy and you're never stuck with bad wine you don't want!

Hope this helps!

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Reply by edwilley3, Jun 27, 2012.

outthere said: "Wine clubs in general tend to be clearing houses for wine that doesn't sell or labels that have no marketing. I have never had a wine from a wine club that even tempted me to finish the bottle lest buy more.  Seriously, you can do better with a good wine store that listens to your needs."

I agree 250% with his point.  By wine clubs, I think that the original intent here is to describe generic clubs, not winery-sponsored "clubs".  The latter amount to forecasted purchasing.  You know that you enjoy that winery's products and generally think that they represent a solid value. (I am a "member" of Bell's Carillon Club.) For places in the middle of the country, even large states with big markets like Texas, it's often the only way to get some wines, even if distribution is good on the coasts.  

Have you ever tried to locate even a description of the "club" wine on a non-club site?  They do not exist. Plus, the "competition" is not what you think: Zagat really is Laithwaites.  Here in Texas, for example, the wines are shipped through Bee Caves Wine Cellar (?) in Austin. 

I tried Laithwaites just to see if I was missing anything. I wasn't.  They tend to repeat wines, which indicates that some of them do not result in successive sales.  After all, their GOAL is to get you to like a wine and then order more independent of your quarterly shipment. About 3/4 - over a number of shipments - were wines I would not repeat for any money. Admittedly, I liked a few of them, but I still have the "chaff" lingering in my Eurocave. 

I can find significantly better wines for relatively reasonable prices at large chains such as Total Wine and Spec's (both of which just came to Dallas), as well as Costco (still has great wines around $20), and can get rarer bottles at independent shops run by real aficionados (Perry's and Pogo's in Dallas).   If I go to Perry's and tell the owner my (a) occasion, (b) budget, (c) and basic taste preference (which he honestly already knows), he will select a mixed case for me that has really outstanding wines that may even be relatively "exclusive". 

I cannot stress enough how important it is to develop relationships with your local retailers.  Once they know what YOU like and how much you can afford to spend, they can give you personalized assistance. People pay extra for this kind of service all the time. Why not pay a FAIR price for it when it comes to wine? If you like a wine that they haven't ordered too frequently, they will order more for you. When new releases come out, they will contact their distributors to get on the list for the wine. Plus, if you become a higher volume buyer they likely will give you discounts anyway.

I will give a recent example from the scotch arena. Ardbeg released it's first Committee bottling for their first international Ardbeg Day. The release was dubbed "Ardbeg Day". Only 60 bottles were destined for Dallas/Fort Worth.  The average retail on the bottle was $92.  Well, the HIGHEST price I paid was $92 INCLUDING tax. The lowest price I paid was $68 + tax. Yes, I got a 25% discount on a item that never even saw a shelf and COULD HAVE sold for over $100 had it been put out.  Why? My group of aficionados purchase serious volumes and special bottles in the past. We bought about HALF the Day bottles allocated for D/FW.  Half!  

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Reply by shempxyz, Sep 22, 2012.

I support the winery club you definitely know idea.  I am so new and have such a limited taste range thus far, I believe sticking to what I know is best.  I am now experimenting with wineries I live near to see how they stack up to the winery I found on vacation. 


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