LIFESTYLE WINE CLUBS
What does your wine club say about you?
by Geordie Clarke / Contributing Editor
Fancy drinking a bottle of wine from the “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” case or how about the “Playboy Blind Date” selection? If you’re among the American wine drinkers who sign up to Playboy’s new wine club, these are just two of the case options available to customers, all of which will purportedly be tailored to fit the theme and culture embodied by the brand.
For $129 per case, customers will be able to see what is in each month’s offerings and can choose whether or not they want, for example, the “six sensual whites” contained in the ‘Blondes’ case.
Some people might feel like boobs drinking wine sold by a company that isn’t even remotely an expert in the wine business, but if we’re trying to make wine appreciation as inclusive as possible, perhaps we shouldn’t poo-poo it too much.
Nevertheless, Playboy’s launch highlights the fact wine is becoming big business, particularly when it is marketed as a lifestyle product. Earlier this year Lot 18 entered the UK market with a splash made much of the fact customers had to become members before they could see its exclusive, time-limited offers. Unfortunately that Lot 18, which had no upfront costs, came to a quick end due to low sales figures.
But the sheer number of wine clubs and mixed cases being marketed these days is clearly proof this market has legs.
Offerings from the likes of Berry Bros, The Wine Society, countless local merchants and of course the Sunday Times Wine Club, are all aimed not only at making things easy for consumers, but also educating them by exposing them to different styles and taking the mystery out of buying wine.
But the idea of targeting a lifestyle or recreational interest takes the wine world to another level and provides us an opportunity to think of other ways mixed cases can be constructed.
Here are just a few that could be launched:
- Spearmint Rhino wine club
This would be similar to the Playboy wine club but this time targeted specifically at British fans of the female form. This is aimed at the gentleman – or perhaps more accurately the lad – who chooses to unwind at the end of each in the presence of scantily clad women while drinking a fine wine. More than likely he will drink Champagne and finer white wines. Cases might be named along the lines of “Titillating twelve with great legs” and “Vivacious reds”. Each case will come with its obligatory bottle of Moët just to tell everyone it’s time to party.
- City banker wine club
Bankers have gained a reputation for long hours, testosterone, a lot of ego and the occasional bankrupting blunder. When they aren’t drinking beer down the pub they’re cracking bottles of Bollinger or anything else they can get their hands on. Choose from a case of Bolly sent to your trading desk each month (because traders spend 18 hours in the office every day anyway) or a selection of Bordeaux super seconds because when you’re making the cash, you want to throw it around to show it – but not too much.
- New money insurance broker club
These cases are for those new money guys who wear loud suits with obvious designer labels just to drive the message home that they have cash. They’ve earned a fortune selling every imaginable form of insurance to everyone in their hometown; they drive bright red Ferraris with loud exhaust systems; and they won’t drink anything less than Dom Perignon, even if it costs them £300 a bottle. Each case consists of six bottles of Moët & Chandon’s luxury cuveé (or Cristal if they prefer), while the remaining six bottles are a mix of grand crus Chablis, first growth Bordeaux and a bottle of Penfold’s Grange because it’s big, bold and brash.
- Hoxton hipster wine club
When they aren’t in a pub off Shoreditch High Street downing pints of Brooklyn Lager, the average Hoxton hipster is probably in a Vietnamese restaurant on the Kingsland Road where ‘bring your own’ is as far as the wine list stretches. Sure, they could stop at the local off-licence for a chilled bottle of Wolf Blass Chardonnay before sitting down for the their rice vermicelli, but what if each month they were sent a case of wine that helped soften the financial blow somewhat? This case would be tailored for cheap wine drinking – since the customers are most likely to be artists, students or squatters – and consist mainly of wines that go well with take-aways. With that in mind, crisp, off-dry whites and light-bodied, fruity reds are the name of the game. Sparkling wines will mostly be Prosecco and Cava. All sub-£6 per bottle.
- Broke university student wine club
While easily confused with the Hoxton hipster club, the difference here is most university students will know very little about wine and care even less about the finer details related to it. The name of the game here is value for money and ease of drinking. Each dozen will be easy to drink and consist of the best bargains from Lidl and Aldi. Most wines will cost no more than £3.99 per bottle.
- Footballers wine club
For details, see new money insurance broker club and substitute the name.