Photo: Marcus McDonald
Wine subscriptions are a great way to expand your palate and discover producers and varieties you’ve never tried before, curated to your taste. They also make a thoughtful gift that keeps on giving, especially if you need a last-minute present that will arrive in giftees’ inboxes right on time. That said, with so many subscription services out there, it can be hard to know where to begin and how to avoid the bogus ones that sommelier Ian Bishop, the portfolio manager at Flavors of Italy, says are “full of mass-produced or private-label wine that is, frankly, inferior in quality.” Wine subscriptions also tend to focus on providing customer service and education to their customers that can be less intimidating than walking into a shop. While all of the subscriptions below have easy to navigate sites, as well as plenty of information about the specific wines they offer, there are a few with truly exceptional service that we’ve called out below, including one that even lets you text a somm directly with questions.
While all of the subscriptions below have easy-to-navigate sites, as well as plenty of information about the specific wines they offer, there are a few with truly exceptional service that we’ve called out below, including one that even lets you text a somm directly with questions.
To find wine subscriptions that are worth your money, I asked Bishop and 11 other experts about the ones they trust. Below are their 14 favorites, which include a wine subscription for just about every wine drinker, whether it’s the wine newbie, the sparkling-wine enthusiast, or the nerd who geeks out over the slight variations in every vintage.
Since first writing this post, I’ve been lucky enough to try several of the subscriptions on this list myself, so I also included a few of my personal favorites, including two that are ideal for the natural-wine and canned-wine apologists out there (guilty as charged). A note that while these subscriptions all ship nationwide, laws surrounding wine shipping vary state by state, so availability will be subject to your location.
This may seem obvious, but deciding the type of wine you’d like your subscription to consist of is the first step. Typically, subscriptions will offer all red, all white, or a mixed option. If you can’t stand Chardonnay, then an all-red subscription is for you. If red wine always gives you a headache, then opt for all white wines. And if you’re looking to expand your palate, a mixed option gives you plenty of variety to explore.
The next thing that differentiates wine subscriptions is the number of bottles you can expect to receive in a shipment. If you are the type who likes to savor your wine slowly one glass at a time, you should opt for smaller shipments (typically around three or four bottles). If you tend to drink your wine by the bottle or like to host dinner parties, then I suggest choosing a subscription that offers half- or full-case shipments.
Many wine subscriptions are monthly, but there are also subscriptions on this list that offer quarterly, annual, biannual, and triannual shipments, as well. Taken into account with the number of bottles per shipment, the frequency of deliveries is another deciding factor that comes down to how much (and how often) you drink.
Type: Red or mixed | Number of bottles: Four or six bottles | Frequency of delivery: Monthly
If you’re looking for a way to ease into the world of wine, SommSelect is a great option. SommSelect is curated by master sommelier Ian Cauble, whom you may recognize from Netflix’s documentary Somm. Both Luke Sullivan, formerly the head sommelier at Soho-based Gran Tivoli, and Bishop recommended SommSelect, telling us that it consistently delivers. (That praise, Bishop adds, comes from someone who has had the luxury — and curse — of tasting an “obscene amount of wine.”) Each delivery (subscriptions start at $99 a month for four bottles) is themed, he explains, which means one might have wines that highlight a specific growing region, while another might include wines that explore a grape variety. “If you want to cultivate some basic wine knowledge, this service ticks all boxes,” adds Sullivan.
In addition to their standard four- and six-bottle options, they also have a monthly club called the Blind Six that I was able to test out myself. The six numbered bottles arrive wrapped in black tissue paper so you can have the blind-tasting experience popular at wineries right at home. The wine is also accompanied with notebooks, instructions, and detailed tasting notes written by Cauble himself. Not only is it just plain fun, but I found that it really helped me train my palate when I was fairly new to drinking wine and helped me further identify the types of wines I like best.
Type: Red, white, or mixed | Number of bottles: Six or 15 bottles | Frequency of delivery: Monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly
For a more affordable option, “Splash Wines Club offers a unique wine subscription that allows members to choose from a wide range of high-quality, competitively priced wines,” says Susan Kostrzewa, former editor-in-chief of Wine Enthusiast magazine, adding that the selection ranges from classic vintages to offbeat choices to creative new releases. Where Splash excels is in subscription options, which include monthly, every other month, or quarterly shipments, and tiered pricing. Its cheapest option would be to receive six bottles a quarter for $59 a shipment; but if you want more deliveries, you can also opt to pay $59 for monthly or every-other-month shipments, too. If you pay $79 a shipment, those deliveries (whether every month, other month, or quarter) will include 15 bottles. If you pay an extra $10 on top of either of those options, you get access to higher-quality wines from its “vineyard collection.” And if you pay an extra $39 (for 6-bottle subscriptions) or $70 (for 15-bottle subscriptions), you get access to the highest-quality bottles from its “cellar collection.”
Type: Mixed | Number of bottles: 12 bottles | Frequency of delivery: Monthly
If you consume a healthy amount of wine every month and want to support a New York City–based shop, Astor Wines and Spirits’s “Top 12” monthly subscription is a really good option, says Karen Lin, the executive general manager and sommelier at Tsukimi in the East Village. For $175 a month, they’ll send monthly shipments containing 12 bottles of their newest discoveries, which works out to a little more than $14 a bottle — less than you’d pay in any store.
Type: Mixed | Number of bottles: 12 or 24 bottles| Frequency of delivery: Biannual
There are “great” selections to be tasted through Viticole’s wine club, according to Bishop, who notes their selections aren’t relegated to just wine. While shipments mostly contain red and white wine, they can also come with ciders, meads, botanical infusions, sake, and multi-fruit ferments. There are two tiers to membership: Viticole’s standard wine club costs either $99 or $198 per month, depending on if you want one or two 12-bottle cases, one in the spring and one in the fall. Part of what you’re paying for with this club is exclusivity. Viticole’s founder, master sommelier Brian McClintic, works very closely with organic producers from around the world to create custom bottles only available to club members, according to Bishop, so you can be sure you’re getting something special.
Type: Red, white, or mixed | Number of bottles: Three, six, or 12 bottles | Frequency of delivery: Monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly
Whatever buzzword you want to use — natural, low-intervention, low-sulfite, biodynamic, organic — to describe the category, Primal Wine Club can’t really be beat in curating it. Its club’s offerings include monthly shipments of three, six, or 12 bottles — of white, red, or mixed — starting at $85 per month. After Bishop recommended it for this story, I was gifted a mixed, three-month subscription for my birthday, and every single bottle was stellar. Overall, the wines were interesting but still reliable crowd-pleasers. Plus, it now also sells a selection of tinned fish from Spain and Portugal on its site. Sardines and a glass of orange wine? What’s not to like.
Type: Mixed | Number of bottles: Three bottles | Frequency of delivery: Monthly
For $79 a month, Brooklyn-based Leon & Son Wine & Spirits’ — one of the city’s best wine shops — Leon Circle subscription will get you three bottles of “restaurant-quality,” natural-leaning wines, according to Kirk Sutherland, the former wine director at Roberta’s and Blanca and current maker of Erde Wines. He adds that founder Chris Leon’s mission is not only to expose customers to new wines, but also to educate them, which is why the subscription includes easy-to-understand note cards that tell you more about what you’re drinking and how to order and buy wines like it. Plus, you’ll be supporting a beloved small business.
Type: Mixed | Number of bottles: Six or 12 bottles | Frequency of delivery: Biannual
If Spanish wine is your thing (or even if it’s not), Lily Peachin, the owner of Dandelion Wine and Dandy Wine & Spirits in Brooklyn, recommends Campió Collective, a club run by Ariana Rolich, Joe Manekin, and Veronica Stoler. “They’re a group of Spanish-wine nerds with over three combined decades of experience and expertise (as buyers for retailers Chambers Street Wines, K&L Wine Merchants, and Despaña, respectively),” she explains. “They’re on the ground in Spain, hunting for small producers you can’t find in shops or on wine lists, picking out some of the most interesting Spanish wines I’ve ever tasted.” They send out bottles twice a year, and you can sign up to receive 12 or 24 bottles each time.
Type: Mixed | Number of bottles: Six or 12 bottles | Frequency of delivery: Biannual or triannual
Flaneur focuses on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay — specific, yes, but if you’re a fan of those varieties, there’s no better club to join, says Margaux Reaume, co-founder of online wine shop Argaux. It has different tiers (12 bottles three times per year, 12 bottles twice per year, or 6 bottles twice per year). The membership not only gets you wine that’s made specifically for the club (and literally not sold anywhere else), but for those who live nearby, it also gets you invites to bottlings and other events at Flaneur’s beautiful vineyard. “Their wine is organic, sustainably farmed, and really just incredible,” says Reaume.
Type: Red or mixed | Number of bottles: Three or six bottles | Frequency of delivery: Monthly or quarterly
Kostrzewa says those who prefer wine made in Washington, Oregon, and California’s Sonoma Valley should check out the subscription from WOW Sonoma, which offers monthly shipments of three bottles from those areas for $107 a month. You can choose between a recurring subscription or a onetime order, and WOW will waive its flat $25 shipping fee if you commit to a year subscription. In addition to being made in the U.S., all the wines in WOW Sonoma’s subscription come from women-owned wineries.
Type: Red or mixed | Number of bottles: Six or 12 bottles | Frequency of delivery: Biannual
Sommelier and writer Belinda Chang told us about the subscription club at Matthiasson, which she describes as a small, woman-owned, family-run winery known for pioneering sustainability and natural wine before those things became trendy. The wine club offers shipments of six or 12 “delicious, tough-to-get wines” twice a year, in October and April, starting at $335 a shipment (that’s 10 percent off what the bottles would cost at full price). And for an extra $48, you can get some of the vineyard’s homemade jam — which Chang calls the best she’s ever tasted — as part of your subscription (the jam delivery occurs once a year in early December, according to the company, which doesn’t say how many jars it sends).
Type: Mixed | Number of bottles: Two, six, or 12 bottles | Frequency of delivery: Monthly
Reaume also loves Wednesday Night Wine Club, started by Sam Rethmeier, who currently runs the wine program at République in Los Angeles. For $69 a month, you receive two bottles. Every time it sends out a shipment, Rethmeier uploads videos of himself tasting the wine and talking about it, so you can learn as you drink.
Type: Mixed | Number of bottles: Six or 12 bottles | Frequency of delivery: Biannual
For those who already have an impressive wine fridge at home and want to dig even deeper into new varieties, Jordan Salcito, the CEO of Ramona who formerly worked as the sommelier at Eleven Madison Park and Momofuku, loves author and sommelier Raj Parr’s wine club. Its offerings include twice-yearly shipments of six wines as well as twice-yearly shipments of 12 varieties that let you experiment a bit more. While it is pricey, Parr shares his cell-phone number with club members and encourages members to text him with any questions they may have about the world of wine.
Type: Sparkling | Number of bottles: Two bottles | Frequency of delivery: Monthly
For sparkling-wine aficionados, Chang — who has “a serious sparkling-wine and Champagne habit” — suggests Sonoma-based Iron Horse Vineyards’s subscription service. While “they make a full range of still wines that are wonderful,” she is obsessed with the sparkling-wine-only options it offers via its various subscriptions. Those options include the Winemakers’ Choice Club, which will send you two bottles of sparkling wine every month for $110; the 2 Bottle Club, which will send you two bottles of sparkling wine every other month for about $120 a shipment; and Chang’s favorite, the Corral Club, which costs the most at around $210 per shipment, but sends five shipments containing four to five bottles a year, plus an additional holiday shipment.
Type: Champagne | Number of bottles: Four, six or, 12 bottles | Frequency of delivery: Quarterly
Kostrzewa says that those who like bubbles, but specifically Champagne, should turn to Fatcork. Founded in 2010 by Bryan and Abby Maletis, Fatcork is focused on small, family producers, she explains, noting that members benefit from the Seattle-based couple’s expertise and direct-to-consumer, import-and-distribution business. Because “it’s Champagne,” Kostrzewa cautions, “it’s not going to be cheap,” with subscriptions starting at $264. But should you have the budget, options include three-, four-, or six-bottle shipments that are sent quarterly and curated around a tasting theme.
Type: Mixed | Number of bottles: Three | Frequency of delivery: Monthly
Zwann Grays is the wine director at Brooklyn’s Olmsted, a neighborhood favorite known for its backyard garden where diners sip a glass of rosé next to a quail coop. “[Grays] has the ability to taste some of the greatest wines in the world,” says Lily Peachin, the owner of Dandelion Wine, “and can’t put all of them on the restaurant list. This is really a way for her to create packs of wines she finds exciting.” When you join the club, you’ll get three bottles of natural-leaning wine (for $96), but the real win is getting to experience Grays’s impeccably cool taste. It’s the stuff Grays is trying and loving herself: A recent fall shipment was filled with her favorite “sweater weather” wines. If you’re looking for a low-key subscription from one of the most knowledgeable wine pros in New York, this one is for you.
Type: Red, white, or mixed | Number of bottles: Two, four, or six | Frequency of delivery: Monthly
Our friends over at Eater are as obsessive about food and drink as we are about shopping. That’s a big reason why we think anyone who likes wine should consider its subscription, which is basically the mail-order version of a trusted restaurant sommelier asking you to try their new favorite bottles each month. “Every month we choose a new wine expert from a restaurant or shop that we love and they put together a box of restaurant-quality wine from small producers they’re excited about,” explains Eater editor-in-chief Amanda Kludt. Subscriptions, which start at $70 for two bottles, also come with newsletters that provide more information about the wines you receive and invites to virtual wine parties with experts, she adds.
Type: Mixed | Number of bottles: 36 cans | Frequency of delivery: Quarterly
If you prefer drinking your wine in crushable cans, Nomadica is a sommelier-curated canned-wine company that made my list of the best canned wines. It sources all of its wines from vineyards with responsible farming practices and works with winemakers who specialize in low-intervention (or natural) winemaking. Lauren Friel, founder of wine bar Rebel Rebel, told us that Nomadica’s owners “are wine lovers first” and that its “natural California wines are complex expressions of West Coast terroir.” Chang told us the sparkling rosé is a particular favorite and that she keeps cans on hand everywhere: “In my cooler for the boat, on ice in the bathtub for my apartment parties, and also in my fridge.” And it offers a monthly subscription, so you can always have cans on hand. Nomadica was kind enough to send me samples of all of its wine. I was particularly fond of its still rosé — which features notes of strawberry, sage, rose petals, and violets — as well as its slightly saline sparkling white, both of which were perfect for beachside sipping.
• Ian Bishop, sommelier and portfolio manager at Flavors of Italy
• Belinda Chang, sommelier and writer
• Lauren Friel, founder of wine bar Rebel Rebel
• Amanda Kludt, Eater editor-in-chief
•Susan Kostrzewa, former editor-in-chief of Wine Enthusiast magazine
• Karen Lin, executive general manager and sommelier at Tsukimi in the East Village
• Lily Peachin, the owner of Dandelion Wine and Dandy Wine & Spirits
• Margaux Reaume, co-founder of online wine shop Argaux
• Jordan Salcito, CEO of Ramona and former sommelier at Eleven Madison Park and Momofuku
• Luke Sullivan, formerly the head sommelier at Soho-based Gran Tivoli
• Kirk Sutherland, the former wine director at Roberta’s and Blanca and current maker of Erde Wines
• Dominique Pariso, Strategist writer
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.