If you want to explore wine and taste selections from a range of regions, joining a wine club is a terrifically convenient way to do those things. The wine club business is more competitive than ever, with myriad choices that offer very different experiences. After reviewing several clubs and quizzing them on everything from their return policies to their shipping challenges, I’ve come to view the better ones as akin to a relationship with a good wine retailer. These are the clubs that want you to call with questions and these are the clubs that put tremendous effort into your wine education—stuffing your shipments with newsletters and full-page descriptions of the wine, the winemaker, and the region as well as recipes to try. Most clubs also offer discounts on re-orders and allow you to cancel at any time. A select few will accept returns of any wine you didn’t like. If your club isn’t doing at least some of these things you might want to revisit your membership. After reviewing all of the information, clubs such as Gold Medal and International Wine of the Month deliver the most versatile, well-vetted offerings that will please both the novice and the expert wine drinker. And yet, each club has its own “style”—hopefully this story will guide your decision-making.
Plonk Wine Club
Plonk Wine Club is the brainchild of Etty Lewensztain (named by Wine & Spirits Magazine as a Top New Talent in the Wine World). If you love a wine adventure, then this is the club for you. Plonk’s playful “let’s explore” wine approach means you’ll get interesting varietals from diverse regions. A recent shipment featured a Malbec from France’s Cahors and a Spatburgunder Rosé Trocken (dry Pinot Noir rose) from Pfalz Germany. The wines were delightful, but indeed not what you’d typically find in retail. Tasting notes, recipes and food pairings are provided for each wine, and discounts on re-orders. Unlike other clubs, memberships are prepaid (and non-refundable) for a duration of 3, 6, or 12 months. She does offer a 100% money-back guarantee on any wines you don’t love.