With the help of thousands of Which? members we’ve glugged our way through gallons of plonk to compare wine clubs. They can be quite the investment, so if you’ve joined one, did you think it was worth it?
A selection of wines picked by experts delivered straight to your door, and if you don’t like them you can just send them back. What’s not to like?
Unfortunately, wine clubs are a bit outside my price range, given that the cheapest mixed cases cost around £60. But I do find the idea quite appealing.
Wine is now a key part of the UK consumer experience, and we each guzzle about 28 litres a year according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association. But while many of us know a few wine connoisseurs and can tell a Merlot from a Malbec, few would claim to be able to pick the finest quality bottle from a taste test.
That’s where wine clubs can really shine. The convenience factor is great, but when wines are hand-picked by experts you can experience great wines without delving into books or trawling the French countryside yourself.
The best and the rest?
Ultimately, it’s the quality of the wines that separates the best from the rest, and in our customer satisfaction survey of 12,286 Which? members, one club stood out. The Wine Society was the only wine club to achieve 5 stars for quality, and also topped the bill for its range of wines, delivery and managing orders.
Not all the clubs were so good though. When we asked to hear about your experiences, some of you told us of wines being substituted for others of poorer quality, as well as confusion around membership and cancellations.
There’s only one problem with The Wine Society though – like a gym membership you need to pay a one-off £40 lifetime membership fee to join, so you can’t just try them out.
Most other clubs actively encourage you to give them a try, through introductory offers which often come in at half the full price, say £30 a case. However, be careful what you’re signing up for, as your next purchase could cost twice as much.
What’s your experience?
Besides problems of unwanted substitutions and people finding themselves in rolling contracts after signing up to introductory offers, some wine clubs have other surprises. Delivery costs often come to £6.99 per box, but only some clubs charge them.
There’s also the little matter of what’s in your case. A case of 12 wines doesn’t necessarily mean 12 different wines. We found six different wines (two of each) to be the most common combination, but some only give four.
Have you been a member of a wine club, and if so what did you think of it? Was it good value, or did you fall foul of rolling memberships, delivery costs, or poor quality wines?