To an outsider, the world of wine — with all its varietals, regions, tasting techniques, and pairing rules — can seem intimidating and difficult to navigate. Online wine clubs, however, aim to bring these barriers crashing down and make the process so easy you don't even need to leave your house.
These wine clubs are typically subscription-based and send you monthly or quarterly shipments of wine that fit your existing tastes while helping you expand your horizons and discover new favorites.
"No one is born with a great palate," said Vanessa Price, a sommelier, wine writer for New York Magazine, and author of Big Macs & Burgundy: Wine Pairings for the Real World, "they develop it over time. The more you expand your experiences with different types of wine, the more evolved your palate will become."
Online wine subscriptions can fast-track that evolution if you don't necessarily have the time or energy to do all the work.
"Generally, wine clubs are great for those who want to be introduced to new things, but who may not be confident enough yet to select new things for themselves," said David Hamburger, director of special events at Acker, the oldest wine shop in America. "A good wine club should be somewhat instructive, sharing with members enough information about each wine to provide background, but also allow members the flexibility to enjoy it their own way — with a recipe, or food pairing suggestions." And if you need extra guidance on how to taste or store your wine, head over to our FAQs here.
In our tests of some of the most popular online wine subscriptions, we found that safe and reliable shipping standards, subscription flexibility and customization, and unique, high-quality offerings are also important factors to keep in mind.
With every service below, our bottles arrived on time and securely packaged. Member experience was also great across the board. You can easily skip shipments or cancel your subscription directly from your online account.
Remember, an adult 21+ years old must be present to sign for the wine shipment.
The best subscription for natural wine:
Plonk Wine Club
For natural, organic, and biodynamic wines, you can rely on Plonk to take care of the expert vetting, thoughtful curation, and spot-on food pairing recommendations.
Subscription frequency: Every month
Shipping fee: Free
A la carte shop: Yes
Plonk, which is British derogatory slang for cheap, low-quality wine, provides wines that are anything but. The online club focuses exclusively on natural wines that are grown with organic, biodynamic, and sustainable vineyard practices, meaning they don't contain pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or commercial additives (like colorants or artificial sugars). There's also an impressive selection of sulfite-free and unfiltered bottles.
If you're interested in the specific distinctions among the terms "natural," "organic," and "biodynamic," founder Etty Klein breaks them down here.
Plonk prides itself on selecting and importing wines from small, boutique winemakers and lesser-known wine regions, flouting big industry names to give you a carefully vetted selection. While other online wine subscriptions may offer natural and sustainable options, few can boast both the convenience and range of Plonk's one-stop natural shop.
When you sign up, you have your choice of an all-red, all-white, or mixed variety box, with either four or 12 bottles per shipment. What the included informational printout lacks in glitzy presentation, at least compared to other services, it makes up for in precise tasting notes and ultra-specific food pairings courtesy of Food52. For example, one of my favorite Plonk discoveries, a 2019 Pinot Noir from Margaret River, Western Australia, should be enjoyed with stuffed peppers with lamb, orzo, and halloumi cheese.
Plonk has seasonal offerings throughout the year, including a Thanksgiving 6-Pack that will be available in November, and a Holiday Sparkling Wine Sampler in December.
Pros: Only natural wine offerings, pre-curated, easy to skip shipments or cancel your subscription
Cons: Pricey, cannot be personalized