It seems like everyone – daily newspapers, wine magazines, wine stores, and vineyards – has a wine club that promises to deliver wonderful wines to your door every month. There's a huge range of club types, so you can customize how much you get, how often, how much you want to spend, and more.
But, the main issue: Should you join a wine club in the first place? The answer: Probably not, unless you're a real connoisseur.
Ask yourself which describes you more:
A. You're a wine drinker who expects the best. Whether or not you join a wine club, you'd normally pay to be treated like a VIP and to find exclusive, off-the-beaten path wines.
B. You're a wine fan with a tight budget, but you don'tt mind an occasional speed bump in the quest for fun, affordable wines.
If you answered A, you may want to look into a wine club. California-based wine writer Jessica Yadegaran says that the reason most people join wine clubs isn't strictly the high money value. Instead, people join for the perks that a wine club can offer, such as a lot of limited release and reserve wines that may be available only to wine club members, as well as the convenience of having bottles delivered straight to their doors. Members also join in order to have their wine choices curated so they don't waste money on mediocre libations. Jeff Lefevere of the award-winning Good Grape: A Wine Manifesto agrees. He says that wine clubs "frequently cater to club members with special wines that aren’t available at retail." Lefevere reminds us to factor in the costs of shipping the wine, and those fees aren't so cheap. Essentially, wine clubs don't provide a great deal in terms of cost, so unless you would have spent big bucks tracking down those exclusive wines anyway, going after a membership might not be the most sage financial decision.
If you answered B, a wine club is probably not right for you. Though some clubs feature affordable wines, there are no "Two Buck Chuck" style bargains to be had. If you're really sticking to a budget, your best bet is to stroll into your local wine store, talk to the clerk, and start building a relationship. Based on your feedback, over time, he or she will be able to steer you toward wines you might enjoy, within your price range. Whether or not you are stuck with a few duds along the way, you'll be your own judge.