Wine clubs prompt some whines

Some of the selections from popular clubs didn't taste fresh

Published: October 2013

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Illustration: Alison Seiffer

If you’re sending a gift of wines to yourself or a friend every month or so, how would you feel about sipping a selection that lacks freshness or tastes a bit like waxy crayons? Those are among the descriptions our experts supplied after blind tastings of 12 bottles shipped from each of three wine clubs.

Wines sent by  Wine of the Month Club Cellar Series ranged from fair to very good; those sent by the  Wall Street Journal’s WSJwine Discovery Club, from poor to high good; and those sent by The New York Times Sampler Club, from fair to mid-good. The clubs offer refunds if you’re dissatisfied, and you can cancel after one shipment.

Bottom line. You can do better and will probably pay less by using our past Ratings or visiting a good wine store and asking for suggestions from around the world. Note that wine can’t legally be shipped to every state, so not everyone can order from the clubs. They ship to 26 to 32 states.


What it sends

Cost per 12 bottles

What we got

Wine of the Month Club

Cellar Series

Six wines every other month. You choose red, white, or both.

$132 plus $40 shipping ($14.33per bottle)   Eight varietals (including the uncommon macabeo and negroamaro) and two blends from four countries. Limited breadth of choices, but even the worst wine outscored clunkers from the other clubs. Average:mid good.  


Discovery Club

Twelve reds, whites, or mixed every three months.

$150 plus $20 shipping ($14.17 per bottle)

Nine varietals, three probable blends from seven countries. The sauvignon blanc drew praise and this collection was best at showcasing the world of wine, but the grenachas smelled musty from contact with moldy or tainted cork. Average: low good.

The New York Times

Sampler Club

Four reds and two whites every one, two, or three months.

$180 plus $40 shipping ($18.33 per bottle) Ten varietals (including the uncommon verdicchio and dolcetto) and two blends fromseven countries. Only club to include a pinotage, but experts called it “horsey, burnt, bitter, sour, and strange.” Average: fair to low good.  
Editor's Note:

This article appeared in the December issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

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