If you are a wine lover, and you would like to be able to sample different selections from various wineries, joining a wine club would be a great way to do that.
You can receive a different selection of wines in the mail every month and you will be able to try bottles from wineries you may never discover on your own.
On this page we’re going to take a look at four of the best wine clubs and we’re going to give you some tips and suggestions to help you choose the one that will work best for you.
California Wine Club
California is home to some of the best wineries in the world and the California Wine Club searches out the small, family-owned wineries that are producing handcrafted, limited production wines that are more flavorful and better tasting than the wines produced by the large, corporate wineries.
California Wine Club likes to focus on smaller wineries because they find that these wineries are more about passion for the product they are creating and are not as profit driven as corporate wineries.
The primary focus of the smaller wineries is to simply make great wine and they don’t usually have the time or the budget for things like marketing and distribution.
California Wine club is helping these wineries distribute their product, while also bringing these hidden gems to their members.
California Wine Club has been in business since 1990 and their goal today is the same as it has been for over 25 years, to find handcrafted, award-winning wines from small family wineries, and to make their customers happy.
To make sure their customers are happy, California Wine Club not only searches for the best wines that California has to offer, they also have a “love it guarantee.”
They provide excellent customer service giving you access to a personal wine consultant that will help you discover the best wines.
When you do find a wine that you like, you’ll also be able to reorder your favorites at up to 50% off of the normal retail cost.
There are five different wine club levels you could subscribe to with California Wine Club.
The Premier Series is their original and most popular level, featuring handcrafted, award-winning wines from small family wineries. This level starts at $39.95.
There is the International Series featuring handcrafted wines from around the world and this level starts at $71.
The Pacific Northwest Series features limited production wines from Oregon and Washington. This level starts at $77.
The Signature Series is for collectors and connoisseurs who desire California’s highest rated and most coveted wines. This level starts at $134.
Finally, there is the aged Cabernet Series featuring Napa Valley’s most prestigious Cabernets aged 8 to 12 years. This level starts at $219.
California Wine club ships to anywhere in the United States, including Hawaii and Alaska.
International shipments are also available and there is a toll-free number you can call for a shipping quote.
Unfortunately for our neighbors to the north, they do not currently ship to Canada.
On their website, cawineclub.com, they say that shipping can take as little as two days, but can also take up to three weeks. Your wine will travel in a temperature controlled truck and you will receive tracking information once your wine is on its way.
Each month, California Wine Club features a different winery, and they hand select two of the best wines from that winery, for their members.
They ship those wines, and their own guide to those wines called Uncorked®, to their members across the country.
You can also choose whether you want to receive wines monthly, every other month, or quarterly, and you will only be billed during the months when you are scheduled to receive a shipment.
There are no monthly membership fees with California Wine Club. You pay as you go and you can cancel at any time.
Some people, who are on the fence about whether they should join a wine club or not, wonder what the benefit is.
Why should they join a wine club rather than simply going to the grocery store and choosing from dozens of different options? The answer is simple. You never know exactly what you’re going to get until you pop the cork and give it a try.
California Wine Club has people on their staff who personally visit each winery, visit with the families and the winemakers, and then select two of their best bottles.
California Wine Club has a credo; “we will ship only wines that we would serve in our own home to family and friends.”
Gold Medal Wine Club
Gold Medal Wine Club was established back in 1992 and for the last 25 years they have been featuring wines from the best boutique wineries in the world.
The selection process that Gold Medal Wine Club uses to choose the wines that they send to their members is different than that of other wine clubs.
Rather than relying only on the palate preferences of their employees, Gold Medal Wine Club only features wines that meet strict criteria that includes high ratings from national wine publications and winning medals in major wine competitions.
Gold Medal Wine Club uses a numerical rating system to give you an idea of what you might expect before choosing a particular type of wine.
Wines that are rated 88-89 points are Gold series wines and are considered very good and usually offer an outstanding value.
90-92 points is a platinum series wine and indicates an extremely well-made wine with excellent style and distinction. 93-95 points includes platinum and diamond series and these wines are outstanding, with brilliant complexity.
96-100 points are diamond series wines and this rating is reserved for extraordinary wines with superior character and style.
In addition to the numerical rating system, Gold Medal Wine Club includes tasting notes and winery information as a guide to help you make a decision.
Everyone’s palate is different and a numerical rating system may influence your decision about which wine to buy, but the tasting notes offer you more information to make a more informed decision.
Gold Medal Wine Club has six different membership levels for you to choose from. Each of their six wine club series offers something different depending on your budget and your wine preferences.
The Gold Wine Club is their most popular option and costs $39 per shipment. This option gives you a taste of some of California’s best, small, family-owned and operated wineries.
Each month you will receive two award-winning wines from boutique wineries.
The Pinot Noir Wine Club costs $69 to $79 per shipment. This option gives you two different bottles of limited production Pinot Noirs from some of California’s top winemakers and acclaimed international wineries each month.
The Garagiste Wine Club costs $65 to $85 per shipment. This option includes two or four bottles in each delivery shipped monthly.
The wines at this membership level are from small lot winemakers who typically make less than 1500 cases. These wines usually come from California, but you will also occasionally get wines from Oregon and Washington.
These are rare wines that are next to impossible to find in your local supermarket.
The International Wine Club also cost $65 to $85 per shipment. With this option, you will be able to taste wines from around the world.
Ultra premium wines are imported and are virtually impossible to find anywhere else. You will receive three carefully selected wines each month, usually two reds and one white.
The Platinum Wine Club costs $79 to $99 per shipment and features collectible wines from California’s top winemakers.
You will receive two hand selected wines each month and a personal note from the winemaker or the owner of the winery.
The Diamond Wine Club costs $165 to $195 per shipment and is limited to just 500 recipients.
With this option you will receive exclusive, top of the line, premium wines. This option features quarterly shipments in which you will receive two memorable selections.
Gold Medal Wine Club also has an online store where you can buy exceptional wines at up to 40% off of retail prices.
This is a great option for someone who doesn’t necessarily want to be a member, receiving regular shipments, or for someone who wants to get an extra bottle or two in addition to their regular shipments.
Wine of the Month Club
Wine of the Month Club was founded in 1972, making it the oldest mail order wine club in America.
It was started by Paul Kalemkiarian, who owned a premier wine shop in Southern California in the 1970s and wanted to find the best wine values for his customers.
His customers started asking him if he could deliver the wines he was finding and Wine of the Month Club was born. The company is now run by his son, Paul Jr.
Wine of the Month Club specializes in value oriented wines, finding their customers the best quality wines that also offer the best value.
The owner of the Wine of the Month Club personally tastes over 400 wines from Italy, Germany, Argentina, Chile and California every single month.
Out of all of those wines, he only selects two to represent the best wine values in the world.
Wine of the Month Club offers five different membership options. The Classic Series Membership is the option that has been offered since the very beginning.
Each month, you will receive two carefully selected bottles of wine. Standard shipments will include one bottle of red wine, and one bottle of white.
However, you may choose red or white only if you prefer. This membership level will never cost more than $23.96 per month and includes two bottles of wine that would retail for at least $12 to $15 each.
With each order, you will also receive a 24 page newsletter packet containing information for both novice and experienced wine tasters.
The California Wine Series Membership celebrates wine from the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Paso Robles, Santa Barbara, and other areas of California.
This membership focuses primarily on red wines, and again, you will receive two bottles each month.
The Vintners Series Membership is the most recent offering of the Wine of the Month Club.
This option allows members to experience wines in a price range that gives you a greater variety of grapes and growing regions. Because of that, you will be able to experience a wide range of flavors
Each wine with this membership is guaranteed for quality and value. With this membership you may sample wines from classic regions like the Napa Valley, Bordeaux, and Tuscany, but you may also receive bottles from places like Hungary or New Zealand.
You will receive two pre-screened bottles each month, one red and one white (or you can choose two red, or two white).
This membership level never costs more than $33.96 per month, but you will receive two bottles of wine that each retail for at least $18 to $20 per bottle.
The Limited Series Membership allows members to sample super premium wines at less than premium prices.
Each month you will receive two remarkable, limited production wines. These hard to find, boutique wines are in short supply so they are rarely, if ever found in stores.
The wines you will receive with this membership are more expensive, but they are also some of the best wines available.
The wines you will receive with this membership are selected by a panel of wine authors and critics who taste and compare more than 1200 different wines each year and only the very finest wines are selected for the Limited Series Membership.
With this membership level, you will receive two bottles of wine each month and you will never pay more than $44.96 while the retail value of each bottle is at least $25 to $30.
The Cellar Series Membership offers members the opportunity to sample six bottles of wine each month.
You may choose to sample six bottles from the classic or limited series, four reds and two whites, chosen from hundreds of different wines tasted each month.
This is a great option for people who like fantastic wine at a great value and always like to have a few bottles on hand.
With any of the membership plans mentioned above, you also have the option to reorder your favorite selections at a special savings.
When you are a member of any of the Wine of the Month Club membership levels, you will be able to get discounts of up to 65% while supplies last.
The Wine of the Month Club also offers a fantastic guarantee. They never want you to pay for a wine you don’t like.
If there is a bottle that you’re not happy with, you can call their toll-free number to get a replacement, a credit toward next month’s selection, or a refund.
Cellars Wine Club
Cellars Wine Club was established in 1999 in the Seattle, Washington area.
It started as a small Internet club, but quickly grew into a retail wine shop and then it went on to become one of the premier wine clubs on the West Coast.
Over the years they have developed partnerships with world class wine producers and they have an in-house team of wine tasters to find the best wines possible for their members.
Cellars Wine Club has 16 different membership levels for you to choose from. The single bottle membership level costs $29 per month and you will receive one bottle of red wine or white wine.
All memberships also include a monthly newsletter detailing the wineries and wine featured, and you will be eligible for a discount on any additional wine orders.
The High-End Bottle membership costs $39 per month and is designed for the wine aficionado.
This membership level features wines of limited quantity from boutique wineries and vineyards.
This membership level will let you sample wines from all of your favorite varietals as well as lesser-known varietals from different regions.
The Premium Club costs $42 per month and includes two bottles of wine, either two red, two white, or one red and one white.
With this membership level you’ll be able to sample wines from Italy, France, and California as well as some wines from premium regions in Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina and South Africa.
The International Club costs $49 per month and lets you sample some of the finest wines from Europe, Australia, South Africa, South America, and many other areas around the world.
This membership level also includes two bottles of wine each month.
This Sweet Wine Club is another $49 per month option that also includes two bottles of wine each month.
This particular membership focuses on sweet wines, usually white wines, but also an occasional blush or slightly sparkling wine.
The West Coast Club is a $49 per month option that offers you two bottles of wine each month.
These bottles come from some of the best wineries in Napa, Sonoma, and Monterey as well as the Willamette Valley and Columbia Valley regions of Oregon and Washington.
The Sparkling Club is a $55 monthly membership featuring two bottles of sparkling wine or champagne.
True champagne is a specific type of French sparkling wine, but with this membership you will also receive bottles from California, Australia, Italy and other parts of the world.
The Red Trio Club is a $59 per month option that focuses on red wines, but includes three bottles each month.
These wines come from all around the world and this membership offers an eclectic selection of red wines.
The Washington Club is a $60 per month option that includes two bottles of wine, red or white.
Wines produced in Washington state have gained some notoriety over the years and have joined the ranks of wines produced in some of the most prestigious wine regions in the world.
If you’d like to sample wines from the Columbia Valley to the Walla Walla and everywhere in between, this is the membership level for you.
The Platinum Club is a $65 per month option that gives you two bottles of wine per month, red or white.
This option is designed for the seasoned wine aficionado and lets you sample the best wines from premium vineyards around the globe.
The 90+ Point Club is a $79 per month option that gives you two bottles of wine each month.
You can select two red wines, two white wines, or one red and one white. The wines you get with this membership come from world renowned regions in California, Europe, Australia and South America.
Each wine is carefully selected to make sure they meet the expectations of the most discerning palate.
The Cellars Club is a $125 per month membership that gives you two bottles of wine each month.
The wines offered with this membership are ultra premium, highly rated wines that you can drink when you want to pamper yourself, or you can give them as a very special gift.
The Case Club is a membership level with quarterly shipments and costs $139 per shipment.
With this membership level, you will get a case of 12 bottles of wine every three months. This membership level lets you sample a very wide variety of exquisite selections from premier wine regions around the world.
The Passport Case Club is another quarterly option that costs $216 per shipment.
Each shipment is a case of 12 bottles of wine that include international selections from wineries with a rich history of making great wines.
The West Coast Case Club is a quarterly option costing $288 per shipment.
Every three months, you’ll receive a case of wine from the best vineyards on the West Coast from Napa to Walla Walla and all regions in between.
The Connoisseur Case Club is a quarterly option costing $389 per shipment.
This membership option is for the connoisseur who loves great tasting wine and must have a bottle of fine wine on hand at all times.
These are highly rated wines from world renowned regions and each case features an exquisite selection.
As you can see, Cellars Wine Club has many different membership levels for you to choose from. You can sample many different wines from vineyards around the world.
A Buyers Guide for Wine Lovers
We have looked at four of the best wine clubs you can join. Now, we would like to give you some tips on what to look for when shopping for a bottle of wine as well as tips on selecting a wine club if you would like to have bottles shipped to you on a regular basis.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
If you’re not very well versed in choosing the right bottle of wine, you can simply ask someone else for help.
Maybe the person at the grocery store knows more than you do. Maybe they do they don’t. If you are shopping at a place that sells nothing but wine, there is a very good chance that the employees there are knowledgeable and can help you find the right bottle.
You can also bring your smart phone with you when shopping for a bottle of wine. There are apps that you can download with tips for picking the right bottle and you can search the Internet to see ratings and opinions about certain bottles.
Read the Label Carefully
It’s easy to be fooled by a pretty bottle and a fancy label. Try not to be taken in by the way things look, but search the label for specific information.
If the label says something like “California wine” it might be a perfectly fine bottle of wine, but it could also be an indication that the grapes used to make the wine were grown at a number of different vineyards and grapes from different regions being mixed together can sometimes result in a substandard wine.
Pairing a Bottle of Wine with Your Meal
Conventional wisdom says that you should use a light wine with a light meal and a dark wine with a dark meal.
For example, some people say you should drink white wine with fish and red wine with meat. It really is your own personal preference though.
Some people prefer wines that complement their meal, while others like contrasting flavors. A lot of experts will tell you that the color of wine is not as important as the origin and the overall characteristics of the wine.
For example, lighter bodied red wines will not overpower a seafood meal and some Chardonnays are heavy enough to eat with pork or beef.
Stick with What You like
One good tip is to simply make a mental note when you come across a bottle of wine that you like. The best way to know if you’ll like a particular type of wine is to taste it.
When you find one you like, make sure you remember details like the type of wine it was and the winery came from.
Getting the Most from Even a Mediocre Wine
Even if you end up purchasing a relatively cheap bottle of wine that’s nothing to write home about, there are some things you can do to get the most enjoyable flavor out of that bottle.
One thing you can do is to make sure that the wine is served at the right temperature. Most red wines will taste best when they are between 55 and 65°F. White wines are often best at 41 to 48°F.
It’s usually best to take a red wine out of the refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving it or to cool room temperature red wines before serving.
It also helps to let your wine breathe. Oxygen reacts with the wine and letting it breathe often results in a better flavor.
Some Tips for Choosing the Right Wine Club
If you drink wine regularly and have considered becoming a member of a wine club that delivers bottles to your home every month, there are some tips that can help you find the right wine club that you are most likely to be happy with.
The first thing you may want to consider is your budget. Most wine clubs have a number of options and there is usually an entry-level option that is very budget friendly.
Of course if you’re getting more bottles, or if you’re getting fancier bottles of wine, prices will go up.
Having said that, prices will vary from one wine club to the next, so if you can find a wine club that is offering a similar wine at a better price than some other club, it makes sense to go with the more affordable option.
Perhaps just as important as your budget, is making sure that a wine club offers wines that you will like.
Most wine clubs have websites that have a considerable amount of information on them. You can learn quite a bit about the types of wines they select and why they select them, so doing a little bit of research will certainly help you make a good decision.
Another important consideration is their return policy. You will never know if you like a bottle of wine until you actually try it.
Some wine clubs will let you return a bottle of wine for an exchange, a credit, or a refund as long as the bottle has not been opened.
Other wine clubs have a like it or you don’t have to buy it type of guarantee, where they will give you a credit or a refund even if you have tried the wine, but didn’t like it.
Most wine clubs have some information about their return policy on their websites, and you can also call their toll-free numbers to ask any additional questions you might have.