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Last updated: June 29, 2017
Where do you buy good red wine? If you're looking for a new way to buy red wine, try a red wine club. We've reviewed hundreds (seriously) of red wine clubs — some feature only red wine, some just French or California reds, some just one grape or only red blends, not to mention all of the different price-points offered — it's easy to get overwhelmed.
The great news is, we've got your back. We use the same (mostly) objective ratings criteria for picking the best red wine of the month clubs as we do for all of our top wine club lists — and we know you'll love every red wine club on this list.
Buying for someone else? See our Best Red Wine Clubs for Gifts list, too. Interested in a specific grape? Check this page for all of our single-varietal red wine clubs.
Plonk Wine Club has been one of our favorite wine clubs for years. Their proprietor and wine buyer, Etty, goes out of her way to procure excellent, interesting, and, where possible, biodynamic wines to delight her customers. As a serious foodie, she also has chef-paired recipes for each selection. Among other great red wine clubs, Plonk makes it to the top of this under $30 per bottle list not just because of it's price and awesome wine, but because if you sign up for an all Red club, you actually get four different red wines! (Several of their competitors simply send two of the current mixed wine shipment's red wine.)
Wine Selection: Here at WineClubReviews.net we have what we like to call "curious palates." We always want to try new things and we sometimes get bored with the selection of wines available through grocery stores. Plonk is the perfect wine club for people like us. This month's selection includes a Zweigalt (red) from Austria, a red blend from Portugal, a Rhone-style red blend from California's North Coast, and a red blend from the Asturias region in Spain. Plonk's Red Club is available in 2, 4, and 12-bottle shipments. If you select the 12-bottle shipments you'll get three each of four different wines.
Wine Quality: Plonk only works with high-quality wines, it's a point of pride for Etty to select the best wines around the world that retail for less than $30, and then bring those beautiful wines to a market who would otherwise never see them, month after month, year after year. Each wine is distinctive, balanced, and shows "typicity" (which means it tastes like the grapes it says are on the bottle). Each wine also has character, creating enjoyment and adventure in every sip.
Wine Price: Plonk, despite its name, does not offer cheap wine, so you can't get it at cheap prices, but it's really quite affordable for the amazing selection of wine you receive. Their 4-bottle wine club (recommended) is $94.99 per shipment ($23.75 per bottle), with free shipping. You can get that down to almost $20 per bottle if you join the 12-bottle club. Bonus! Save $10 on your first order with promo code NEWMEMBER and get a free double-jointed corkscrew in your first shipment — our favorite corkscrew, and we've got dozens.
Gifting info: Plonk doesn't place a heavy emphasis on gifting. They offer gift shipments, pre-paid like most other wine clubs, but there isn't any gift wrap or pomp and circumstance around their shipments. You can create an email gift announcement or print a customized gift announcement to give on the big day. If you're a corporate gifter, they WILL customize shipments for you. Don't forget to tell them you learned about this from WineClubReviews.net, please.
Winecrasher is a small wine start-up who wants to bring highly-rated red wine to market at the lowest price possible. Their focus is on quality, price, and making their customers happy. It's a bit like Hotwire (the travel discount site): You know the vintage, the grape, the origin, the critic's score, average retail price, and your price — but not the wine — before you buy. Then when you buy it, you find out what you ordered. It works for us for hotels and it's really not much different than picking out already-rated wines and comparison shopping until you find the right price — except they do all of the work for you.
Wine Selection: Normally to check the red wine selection in a wine club, we just visit their online store and see which wines they've got for sale. Since Winecrasher keeps the wineries a secret (the wineries would never let them sell wines this cheap if they were published to the open market), that's a little trickier. But we see enough here to know it's an eclectic mix of wines from around the world, some examples we want to order: a 91-pt 2012 Barossa Valley GSM Red Blend for $21.98 (34% below retail), a 91-pt 2011 Super Tuscan for $29.99 (14% below retail), and a 92-pt Spanish Mourvedre for $10.89 (27% below retail).
Wine Quality: Every wine sold by Winecrasher has been rated at least 89 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, or Antonio Galloni's Vinous Media. These are leading wine publications who have not been caught accepting money for increased ratings (as some of the other publications have), and therefore 89 points indicates a certain level of quality that will be consistent. That said, many of their wines are rated higher than that, too. The shipment we received had the expected quality.
Wine Price: Winecrasher offers a Best-Price Guarantee on all of their wines. When we spot checked these during the time of our initial review, their prices were good, and as advertised, the lowest available, but often not by much. Wine prices are fluid in the market — as new vintages come up older ones get marked down, and sometimes wine stores offer loss-leaders to get people in the door. Most importantly, we think the prices are very fair for what you're getting. Shipping is $5 in California and you pay the actual cost of shipping everywhere else.
Typically the best deals in red wine are when it is purchased by the case (12 bottles to a box). Since many people don't drink more than a bottle a week, case clubs are typically sold on a quarterly basis. Some of us, ahem, not mentioning any names, definitely drink more than a bottle a week and this Case Club Series from The California Wine Club is happy to oblige you with monthly or bi-monthly shipments if you're like us.
Wine Selection: The Case Club is like a closeout club. The wines that were originally selected for other wine clubs but were purchased in higher volume than those clubs' memberships required get sold via the Case Club at a steep discount. The California Wine Club mostly works with boutique California wineries so the selection in the Case Club is largely red wines produced in small quantities by small California wineries. In addition to 8-11 wines from their Premier Series, you will also receive 1-4 bottles of red wine from the Pacific Northwest or other places in the world.
Wine Quality: Unlike other 12-bottle wine clubs, this Case Club will never send you what the industry not-so-affectionately terms "bulk wine." We go into detail elsewhere on this, but bulk wine is produced on a very large scale and substitutes finesse, character, and care for price. At WineClubReviews.net we're not super judgy about this as many people can't tell the difference or don't care about how the wine was produced as long as they can afford it and they like it. If you DO care about this, then THIS is the red wine club you're looking for. Membership perk: At The California Wine Club you get a 100% Love It Guarantee and a personal wine concierge!
Wine Price: If you've been researching red wine clubs on your own, you've probably seen a lot of these case clubs around (sometimes on Groupon or other discount/closeout sites), and you may have noticed they're typically $170 per shipment once shipping is factored in. That roughs out to $14.17 per bottle delivered. This Case Club also costs $170 per shipment, including shipping. There are no introductory offers for the Case Club Series from The California Wine Club. Priced 48% below what this wine club normally charges for these same wines, we think you can understand why. Plus, you get better value in every box than you'll find in the shipments from the other clubs.
This is the original Wine of the Month Club® (with the registered trademark) and it still run by the same family that invented the concept way back in 1972 (it's been around longer than I have!). I mention this because the wine industry has changed just a wee bit since then, and now everyone and their brother has started a subscription box service, but the original Wine of the Month Club® is still kicking — with members that have been a part of it since the 70s!
Wine Selection & Quality: This is the high-end wine club for Wine of the Month Club® but it's actually an affordable premium wine club, not a super-expensive club like you'd find on our other Best Red Wine Clubs list. Looking in their online wine shoppe [sic], I discovered an interesting selection of reds that we haven't received but most notably, there is very little leftover inventory for this wine club! This is a really good sign as it means members like the wines so much they reorder in large quantities. One red wine we are familiar with is the 2013 Three Saints Cabernet Sauvignon from Santa Barbara County. The vineyard lies in three AVAs (Santa Ynez, Santa Barbara, and Santa Maria), making it rather like the vineyard equivalent of Four Corners! This is a great everyday Cabernet and the price is below winery retail.
Wine Price: Paul (the owner of the Wine of the Month Club®) is really good at getting great prices on the wine he buys for his store and his wine clubs. He also really likes charging a fair price for his wine, instead of marking it up or even charging retail. So at $22.48 a bottle (plus shipping), we think you're getting really good red wine typically priced in the $25-30 range at a local wine shop.
Insider tip: It is possible you live somewhere where shipping will push the price of your wine club over $60. If this is the case, give yourself a gift membership where shipping is included, use our exclusive 10% discount code (BESTWINE), and get that price back under $30 a bottle!
Gift Info: The Wine of the Month Club® has great gift packaging! In addition to a either a lively or a classic gift box, the recipient gets a custom binder to keep all of their wine info in and a free gift which varies by how many months you've purchased. Don't forget our exclusive 10% off coupon (BESTWINE) at checkout!
The new Bold Reds Series from The International Wine of the Month Club just squeaks it's way onto this list of wine clubs with bottles under $30, but it deserves to be here based on the interesting wines they ship, the focus on bigger reds that hold up to BBQ, pizza, and spicy pastas really well, and of course, it's a great wine club that's been around for years because they know what they're doing.
Wine Selection: With so many California wine clubs on the market, this wine club which is International in scope is a welcome addition, though you will occasionally get a California or other US wine in your shipments. We love that wines show up from every corner of the earth. This month's Bold Reds shipment includes a 2013 Petite Sirah from Maipo Valley, Chile and a 2012 Priorat from Spain. This is typical of their Bold Reds selections which also have included: a 2014 Russian River Syrah (California), a 2014 McLaren Vale Shiraz (Australia), a 2011 Bordeaux Blend from Mendoza (Argentina), a 2015 Ribera del Duero Tempranillo (Spain), and a 2010 South African Shiraz.
Wine Quality: As with all big reds, it's important to chill them and let them breathe before you drink them and we recommend decanting 30 minutes before serving. As the wines come up to room temperature you'll discover all of the markers of high quality in these selections.
Wine Price: The International Wine of the Month Club isn't known for generous pricing on their wine, but they're not unfair either. We think $30 a bottle is about right, given that shipping isn't free. But you can always save a little extra by pre-paying for your wine club membership: save $10 on any 4-shipment order with coupon SAVE10.
Gifting Info: The International Wine of the Month Club is a premier gift service for monthly clubs. In the business since 1994, they've done a great job assembling all the pieces for great gifting: gift wrapped bottles, customizable gift cards to be given on the big day, and a crack customer service team to handle any issues your recipients encounter.
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In addition to the selection of best wine clubs based on general consumer preferences and what our readers like, we've gone ahead and cherry-picked the monthly wine clubs we'd most likely join if we weren't getting the subscriptions for free.