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Wednesday 15 February 2012

Weekly Wine: Join our Club

If, after reading the title to this post, you aren't now singing the Club advert song, then I feel I've failed.

Anyway, I've been waxing lyrical about wine for the last few months and nearly every week I urge you to explore, and to try something new. Discovery is super fun, especially when it gets you tipsy, but sometimes we can't be bothered to walk up and down the shelves for half an hour wondering what on earth to try next. Wouldn't it be nice to have a team of experts to pick the most interesting bottles for you?

Enter: the fuss-free wine club.

There's plenty of them about; in fact, most of the wine merchants worth their sulphites will offer some kind of hassle-free service where you get sent a case of tasty new treats every few months or so. Here are some of the best options available to you:


Laithwaites and the Sunday Times Wine Club are one and the same, and they offer a dizzying range of options and smashing flexibility.

You can receive a case every eight or twelve weeks, be it red, white or mixed, and the one unique feature they have is a rose case too (I'm going to make full use of that one when the sun finally decides to show up.)

They let you know what you're going to get in advance, and another mega awesome plus is that if you don't fancy the look of one of the bottles you can ask them to swap it for something else before the case turns up. You can also skip or change a case, and I really love the themed cases they've come up with: I massively heart the Big Red Experience option for winter nights, and they've even got a super spesh selection by wine God Hugh Johnson himself.

You might have guessed already but this is one of my favourite schemes on the market. The only down-side is I don't think the wines themselves are always top dog in terms of wow-factor, but they're not a bad bunch of bottles.

Naked Wines

Naked Wines' Wine Angels scheme keep things simple: you squirrel away £20 a month and in return they give you at least 25% off the wine you choose. Why? Because your £20 monthly investment supports small wine producers in the creation of shiny new, exciting vino. This means you get to feel all ethical as you slurp.

They don't choose the wines you order for you, but they're mega-friendly and sociable over there so they'll always help you make your choice, and the fact they source wines from independent producers means you know you'll discover things you wouldn't necessarily find on supermarket shelves: great for those of us that like wine to be an adventure as well as a pleasure.

The Wine Society

Wine Without Fuss is probably the most flexible scheme I've found. While most clubs just bung you a case every twelve weeks, at TWS you just pick which months of the year you fancy receiving your wine and you can chop and change whenever you fancy. The wines are always delicious and hand-picked by a Buying team with more Master of Wine qualifications than you can shake a stick at.

The only downside is you can't change individual wines in the case before it arrives - and you don't find out what you're getting until it appears at your front door - but the element of surprise is rarely disappointing.

This is the club that recently came top of the Which? review, but you do have to join as a member for £40 before you can start getting your paws on the good stuff.

The Others

The rest of the schemes out there follow a similar theme: Marks and Spencers and Virgin Wines both do three-monthly packages along the same kind of lines so if you like to keep things simple they're a safe and reliable, albeit not that exciting, bet. I much prefer to keep things interesting, and the three schemes I've mentioned above seem to be the best if you want to conquer new regions and be a bit snazzy and different.

Tell us about your wine club loves and loathes in the comments, or have a good old chinwag about it on our Twitter and Facebook pages. Or send me wine. I like wine.

Image taken from JonathanChanUK's photostream under the Creative Commons License


  1. I've had virgin wine delivered for the last 3 years and I love it. It's everybit as flexible as the ones you mention. I usually have a case every three months. It works out at one great bottle every Friday night. If I've ever disliked a bottle the nice man at virgin refunds me my money. If I've not got through my case ( very unlikely, but it did happen once, I was getting married and honeymooning) then
    you can skip a case. I've ordered additional cases in the build up
    to a birthday party and Christmas. I've also had cases of my favourite wines over the years put together for me on a few occasions. I'm an absolute convert and I promise I don't work for Mr Branson!

  2. Wow, you're both convincing me about these schemes. I like the idea of having a stash of wine in the house too, and getting to know what I enjoy, rather than running to the supermarket for something at the last minute.


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