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Last updated: June 26, 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 save 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 $15 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).
The California Wine Club, while always a good value for boutique California wines, has really gone out of their way to demonstrate outstanding value in this Case Club Series. Normally you pay around $27 per bottle to have their terrific California wine delivered on a monthly basis ($53.95 for two bottles). We knew that it would be even better to buy those terrific wines by the case and be rewarded for being a volume purchaser, so we begged The California Wine Club to create a case club... and did they ever!
At 48% below their normal prices, you can now get 12 bottles delivered monthly, every other month, or quarterly for just $14.17 per bottle! This is the exact same price as other widely-published case wine clubs, but the wine quality is leaps and bounds above what you'll find in those other clubs. In addition to the boutique California selections, each shipment also contains 1-4 wines from their other wine clubs — Pacific Northwest and International Series — so you can discover wines from all over the world, too.
As if their value pricing wasn't enough, The California Wine Club still offers their full complement of great customer-centric services to their Case Club Series members: personal wine consultants available any time and a Love It guarantee which replaces any bottle you're not satisfied with.
Note: The Case Club is not set up for gifting. If you're looking to give a monthly wine gift, try this best wine club gifts list instead.
Winc has long been one of our favorite wine clubs, particularly because they're constantly reengineering their company to produce more and more value for their customers at just $13 per bottle (or less if you take advantage of all of their deals).
Where does all of the value come from? Well, they're punching above their weight, so to speak. The biggest change they made was when they switched from purchasing existing wines for resale to producing their own. Cutting out the middleman is a time-honored method for reducing costs and the wine industry is rife with middlemen.
Not satisfied with just reducing their production costs, they've reduced their fuel costs (transporting wine to their warehouse in bladders instead of barrels or bottles), they don't use capsules (the little plastic or foil cork cover which is only there for show), and they reduce their cost of customer acquisition by keeping their existing customers extremely happy with great wine and great deals.
Our favorite way to stretch your wine value with Winc? After you sign up (and see what all the fuss is about) you can pre-buy credits at up to 20% off. Then, start buying your wine 12 bottles at a time (you can skip a month or two online if you haven't finished all that yummy goodness) and save another 10% on every shipment. Now that's value!
Note: We love Winc as a gift, but you should know that when you give Winc the recipient will be asked to take a quiz about their preferences. Not everyone wants their recipients to "do so much work," but we think it's fun! Winc gift subscriptions are given as gift cards in fixed amounts beginning with $60.
Award-winning wine is everywhere, but it's so hard to decide which ones you should buy. And while you can find good wine in nearly any wine store, you won't always know what is critically-acclaimed or whether it's priced well. This makes value-hunting among California's boutique producers of wine a challenge.
Enter the Gold Series from Gold Medal Wine Club. Like their competitors, they offer two-bottle shipments delivered around $27 a bottle. This is a good value in wine clubs and in California wine clubs in particular, but if you want to get great value for your wine purchases, we recommend upgrading to their four-bottle shipments — for which they thank you with a 10% discount on the wine and a 40% discount on the shipping.
Want to push your value even further? Pre-pay for six months and save an additional 5% or twelve months to save an additional 10% (gets you down to just $15.75 per bottle, before shipping).
Note: When you join the four-bottle Gold Series club you get two each of red and white wine, or if you choose a red-only or white-only club, you get four of each.
There are different ways to approach creating great value in a wine club. Other clubs on this list focus on deep discounts, or reducing their production/acquisition costs, but Plonk takes a different approach to getting amazing value into their wine club. They only pick great wine that's available to them at killer prices, sometimes by acting as their own importer.
Etty is both the wine club's proprietor and the wine buyer. Her bona fides speak to a well-trained palate: she has certifications at both Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and the American Sommelier Association and has been raved about by Food & Wine Magazine, Wine Enthusiast, Wine & Spirits, Snooth.com, Thrillist, Tasting Table, The Huffington Post, and on and on. All that press doesn't add up to value, but her adventurous, discerning palate and a willingness to go anywhere in the world to find great wine at great prices do.
So, now that I've established the value credentials for the Plonk Wine Club, let's talk about the wine itself for a moment. Each shipment features an eclectic collection of wine from around the world, for when you're bored with Cabernet and Chardonnay. I saw on Wine Folly's Facebook page the other day a request to share your favorite "esoteric wine grape" and Madeline suggested hers is Grenache Blanc. And I thought to myself... "That's an esoteric grape? It's certainly one of my favorites! No wonder I love the Plonk Wine Club!"
Whether it's a Zweigelt (red) from Austria, a white Rhone cuvée from Mendocino, or red blend from Portugal, you'll never be bored — or disappointed — with a shipment of Plonk Wine Club. And you'll never feel like you didn't get more than your money's worth, either.
Bonus! Your first shipment comes with a free double-jointed waiter's corkscrew (the best kind) and even when you order all red or all white, you get four different bottles in every shipment.
Okay, so this one's a puzzler and we're not quite sure how they pull off so much value. We THINK it's because they don't mark up the wine very much from their acquisition cost, but, to be sure, you're getting great value from Wine Awesomeness in every box.
Each shipment contains three or six bottles, and like most wine clubs you can choose a mix of wines (which sometimes includes a dry rosé or something bubbly). The packaging is fun and the box has a handle which we love, because wine is heavy and bulky and the boxes are sometimes dirty from the delivery trucks. The wines are priced at just $15 each when you order three and $12.50 when you order six, but they really taste to us like $20-25 wines most of the time. That's why they're on this value list.
Push your value further with sign-up discounts. They have two great introductory offers to save you some dough up front (hint, this increases value a bit, too). If you join the three-bottle club, you can save $10 and if you join the six-bottle club, you can save 20% on your first shipment.
Extra value is in the wine club extras. One of the areas Wine Awesomeness excels is in creating a delightful experience. We're fond of wine adventures around here and each shipment from WA is an adventure to be sure. Sometimes it's a trip to Argentina or it's a new way to enjoy grilled cheese sandwiches, but it's always documented in a beautiful magazine called The Back Label and it even includes music pairings which you can listen to on Spotify.
It makes a great gift, too. Because of the focus on experience, we think WA makes a terrific gift. They usually have a great deal running on a bonus bottle of wine in the first shipment... a little more delight and you're a gift hero!
Want to try new wines every week? We taste wine from nearly every wine club we review and rate the clubs objectively. Then we look at which subscriptions wine lovers like you actually join each month and rank them for you on this list.
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Wine clubs are the white wine lover's best friend. Excellent & affordable sums it up. There's so much more than Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, so join one!
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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.