Last updated: March 5, 2017
There's a persistent rumor among wine critics that wine clubs ship "bulk wine" made from inferior grapes with inferior winemaking techniques. We've reviewed several hundred wine club shipments from dozens of companies and we find that's actually very rarely the case (and we let you know when it is).
We define the best wine club values as those which deliver wine priced significantly below retail (for any level of wine) or wines that seem underpriced, whether it's because of their wine region, their winemaking, or their actual taste. We consider the quality-to-price ratio of every wine we received, and that's what fuels the decision to put a wine club on this list.
When you really want to push for more value, look carefully at the pricing structure of the club you want. Many wine clubs give you better and better prices (for the same wine) when you're a volume buyer. For a wine club, volume-buying might be 12-bottle shipments (get them quarterly if that's too much every month) or smaller shipments but pre-paid for a high number of months (6 or more usually breaks into discount territory). In addition to saving on wine on volume, the shipments can be delivered for less per bottle when they're larger, so larger shipments saving on delivery fees, too.
This list focused specifically on value and not on affordability. Our Best Affordable Wine Clubs list is very popular and focuses on wine delivered under $20 per bottle, but this page is designed for people who want to get great value out of their wine budget while drinking what the industry called "ultra premium" wines. (Learn more about this industry term here at the bottom of the page).
When it comes to wine clubs that deliver interesting, "ultra-premium" wines at the right price, Plonk comes to mind as the best. With a long history of selecting unusual wines of exceptional quality, you can't go wrong with a subscription to Plonk. Well, I suppose if all you want is Napa Cab or sweet wine, you could go wrong, but if you want a varied selection of food-friendly wines on hand, pick Plonk.
Plonk has a place on this list because of their excellent quality-to-price ratio (QPR, as it's frequently referred to), and there are ways to improve your ratio when shopping with Plonk — specifically, join their 12-bottle club (and have it delivered quarterly) or join their 4-bottle club and pre-pay for 12 shipments.
In addition to great value and wines you won't find in any other wine club, Plonk offers three well-paired recipes for each wine (some wine clubs offer generic recipes that go with the varietal, but not necessarily the actual wine you received), and shipping is always free.
One of our favorite Plonk features is that when you order a 4-bottle subscription all red or all white, you get four different wines in each shipment. Many wine clubs double their 2-bottle selections which is great if you loved both wines, but less great if you prefer adventure in your wine drinking.
Winecrasher is a new(ish) wine club that set out to make value it's core value proposition. It uses the Hotwire business model to sell wine by the bottle — you get a full description of the wine and its rating bona fides but you don't know the winery until you buy. The same great consumer-friendly pricing finds its way into their wine clubs.
To control for quality, Winecrasher ONLY sells/ships wine that has been rated by one of four lauded wine critics: Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, Antonio Galloni's Vinous Media, and Burghound. While critics aren't the end-all be-all in wine taste, as thousands of terrifc wines never even get rated, it is a good way to cull the herd before settling in to pick the best wines to carry.
Pricing is simple. They increase the price they paid by 15% and that's what you'll pay. A 15% profit margin is narrow, but they're betting this model creates repeat customers, and we are, too.
In addition to a clever pricing and selection method, Winecrasher delivers extra value through extreme personalization. They offer a custom wine club, with the wines selected by their Sommelier after she talks to you and asks about how you drink wine and what you like, but they have a similar interview process for their regular wine clubs, too. Which means you'll get wine that a professional thinks is right for you. We think that's pretty amazing and that's why Winecrasher is on this list.
After the movie Sideways came out and gained a cult-like following, California Pinot Noir (especially from the Santa Ynez Valley) also gained a cult-like following — and then cult-like prices came, too. Pinot Noir was always expensive because the grape is finicky and the yields are low when it comes time to harvest. This makes it challenging to produce an inexpensive Pinot Noir and why finding a source that prizes value in Pinot Noir is so important
Gold Medal Wine Club only selects wines that have been rated at least 90 points by some critic somewhere (or won Gold in a wine competition). They leverage their relationships with California's best producers of Pinot Noir to select those highly-rated gems and offer them at a surprising price.
Like other clubs on this list, Gold Medal rewards higher-volume customers with a buy-more save-more pricing scheme. For the Pinot Noir Series, that means upgrading to four bottles (two each of two different Pinots) and buying 12-months for an additional savings of 5% on the wine and a big savings on the shipping costs. This is on top of their already-discounted prices, as Gold Medal typically sells their Pinot Noir at 7-15% below winery retail.
We've hand-selected these wine clubs for you because: They exceed our expectations as compared to similar wine clubs; They offer better value or a better selection of wines than similar wine of the month clubs; Our readers prefer these to similar clubs.
The best red wine clubs are a mix of two things: the best wine clubs overall, and getting the most value on red wine (which can be expensive for the good stuff). We sifted through our independent wine club reviews to figure out which wine clubs are really the best red wine clubs. These red wine clubs are sure to delight.
Not surprisingly, there are a number of amazing values in white wine clubs. Since white wine is often cheaper than red for similar quality, we went even further with our best white wine clubs list, looking for the clubs that offer you interesting whites, not just good whites. Use our reviews to further refine your selection.
Seen one of those great offers for a super cheap case of wine and want to know which one is really the best quarterly case wine club? Well, we’ve looked at ‘em all... and most of them aren’t worth it. Here are a handful of quarterly case clubs that pass our test to be called best.
Looking for the best affordable wine clubs? Our editors have carefully scrutinized budget-oriented wine clubs to help you extract the most value and enjoyment out of your wine-club dollars.
Looking for a cut above the regular wine selection in your next monthly club? Try one of these Premium wine clubs. The wines typically cost a little more, but you’ll find you have access to a more unique selection, and wines that are much harder to find at your local store or in another wine club.