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The pandemic has proven that my love for wine is matched only by my love for not leaving my house. And lucky for me, there's a solution that perfectly marries the two: wine subscriptions. With so many wine subscription services on the market, it can be tough to know which is the best fit for your palate, so we've done the very hard work of testing out some of the most popular brands, like Winc and Firstleaf. Read on to meet your wine subscription match.
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How do wine subscriptions work?
No two wine subscription services are exactly alike, but they've all got a few major things in common. The two biggest things to keep in mind when considering a wine subscriptions are as follows: Due to each state's individual alcohol laws, wine subscriptions may not deliver to your state, and you must be 21 or older to accept a delivery from a wine subscription service.
Some services, such as Freshly and Winc, help beginners with wine selections using a handy quiz. Once you complete the online quiz, you'll be given wine options based on your answers and ideally taste preferences. You can take or leave these suggestions, and if you're more of a free spirit in general, most wine subscription services allow you to manually select wines for your box by perusing the various wines offered. If you're going the DIY route, you'll find the wines may be categorized by any of the following: variety, type, color, region, values (think: natural, organic, etc.), grape and more.
Most services have the option to subscribe or make a one-time order (especially helpful if you'd like to give a wine box as a gift). Subscription prices vary depending on which wine subscription you choose, but typically a reoccurring subscription will be more cost effective than ordering a one-off box. Services like Usual Wines and Winc require a bottle minimum for their boxes, which means you can't necessarily treat these as online wine shops like you might Drizly. Each wine subscription delivery is subject to shipping and handling fees.
Winc: For the Instagram fiend
We love Winc. Beyond the user-friendly website and highly aesthetic branding, Winc offers a variety of wine and its inventory is constantly rotating, which means you'll never get bored. To get started, you'll take a six question quiz to determine which sort of wines might be right for you based on your existing food and beverage preferences. If you already know your faves, dive right into the vast lineup of bottles and start curating your box (three bottles minimum).
Members have access to discounted prices on every bottle, but even non-members can qualify for perks like free shipping when they order at least four bottles. Winc's website includes information about each bottle along with suggestions for foods to pair. The only major downside to Winc is the confusing price structure of member vs. non-member, but if you can move past that bit you'll be sipping something tasty in no time. Read more about Winc here.
Firstleaf: For the wine newbie
Firstleaf is a great wine subscription for first-time subscribers and those just starting to dip their toes in the vast world of vino. After you take the intake quiz to find out your flavor preferences, Firstleaf curates an introductory box based on your answer including six bottles of wine for $39 ($6 per bottle). Subsequent orders will cost $79 ($13 per bottle) each, and you'll be able to customize your boxes as you go, as well as rating wines from previous boxes so you can order them again later (or not).
Within each box, you'll find cards that explain the general flavor profile, origin, and ideal food pairings for each wine. We like the educational aspect of Firstleaf and its flexible subscription model. Read more about Firstleaf here.
Blue Apron: For the home chef
While Blue Apron might not be the best meal kit we've tested, we appreciate the one-stop-shopping aspect of this service. You can sign up for a monthly Blue Apron wine subscription through a new or existing meal kit account. Once you sign up, you’re automatically directed to the contents of your first box of six bottles.
We like that Blue Apron provides an informational booklet about the wines included in each delivery, however, this service has some major drawbacks. Blue Apron sends 500 milliliter bottles that are two-thirds the size of a standard 750 milliliter bottles, making its monthly 6-bottle box for $65.99 ($11 per bottle) less of a bargain than it seems because you're getting less wine. Blue Apron is also lacking variety in its wine offerings, however, it's certainly nice to have someone else take care of selecting wines that'll pair nicely with your meal kit recipes.
Naked Wine: For unfussy drinkers
This isn't our favorite wine subscription we've tested because it's not super user friendly and there are almost too many wines to choose from (if that's even a thing?). However, Naked Wines was the perfect solution for making sure my grandma had plenty of Chardonnay to drink when the pandemic hit. She famously doesn't care about where her Chardonnay comes from, as long as it's affordable and chilled, not unlike my aunt (her daughter) who exclusively drinks White Zinfandel. (I love these women very much, though I'm unsure how our taste in wine can be so polar opposite.)
Naked Wines makes you take an introductory "quiz" that's less about your taste preferences and more about your wine sourcing knowledge, which is mildly educational. At its core, this no-frills wine subscription service is all about connecting consumers to winemakers and providing affordable wines. Naked Wines could be good for you (or your grandma) if you prefer a back-to-basics approach over fun, Instagramable branding.
Mysa Natural Wine: For the person who shops at local farmers' markets
This is my personal favorite wine subscription service, not because it ships in flashy, branded boxes (it doesn't), but because they stock tons of my favorite natural wines. The Mysa approach to a wine subscription is all about education, especially when it comes to the winemakers. My biggest complaints when testing this service were the lack of printed information and limited customization.
Mysa has three wine club options: the Natural Wine Club, Orange Natural Wine Club, and Red Natural Wine Club. The red and orange clubs are limited-availability, 4 bottles per month for $124.95 featuring wines featuring exclusively orange and red wines, respectively. For more variety, Mysa offers the natural club, available in 3-, 6- or 12-bottle deliveries and starting at $84.95 per month.
If these prices seem a bit high, it's because natural wine is typically more expensive, which is due in-part to its small-scale production and limited quantities.
I was impressed by Mysa's minimal, yet effective packaging (also entirely recyclable!), and I loved every bottle in the mixed wine box I ordered. Mysa Natural Wine Club won't be for everyone because these wines tend towards the unusual, but it's one of the only wine subscriptions offering exclusively natural wines.
Usual Wines: For those who prefer a 'just one glass' approach
If you're someone who drinks their wine slowly and in small quantities, Usual Wines could be a good option for you. Usual Wines offers by-the-glass bottles in red, brut (sparkling white) and rosé, along with the option to order a mix of all three.
You can order a one-time Usual Wines box with 6, 12, 18 or 24 bottles per box, or you can save money by subscribing so you'll get a monthly delivery of the box size and wine type of your choosing. Usual Wines is definitely on the pricey side, plus the variety of wines is super limited with only four permanent options. Read more about Usual Wines here.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
This article originally appeared on Reviewed: Best wine subscription delivery services