Not long ago, I was at a dinner party. Nothing unusual, but this time we were all asked to bring a bottle of wine that we’d try at the dinner. Again nothing unusual. I knew the others who were coming and let’s just say it wasn’t a gang of wine lovers. Most of them picked wines from ones they’d had at an airpot lounge or worse, Costco. The day of the dinner the strangest thing happened. All the dinner guests would look at each others bottles and start laughing. In fact some of them even brought the EXACT same bottle. To them it was amusing….But to me, WTF was going on?
The bottles were nothing to write home about. Not bad, but ok. To be expected with this particular crowd. However, clearly they’d all been to the same wine shop, or supplier, or something….It took a couple of minutes before in amongst all the laughter I could hear the words Sunday Times Wine Club being punted around…
Aha – all made sense now…
Once everyone got over the fact that they were clearly all members of the same wine club, the discussion about other wine clubs arose. And YES, bringing the same wines to a dinner party is much like wearing the EXACT same outfit as someone else there.
Having never joined a wine club, I needed to get my research done, because I really wasn’t sure what was out there. After a couple of weeks of research, I think I’ve distilled what I believe to be a good list of wine clubs outside of the Sunday Times Wine Club.
Whilst of course this article is about finding alternatives to the Sunday Times Wine Club, that’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with it. In fact since 1969, the Sunday Times Wine Club has been dealing with vineyards all over the world. Their wine club is very popular (as you can tell from my dinner party) – probably the most popular wine club in the country.
How It Works
Well, to start with this wine club, you would sign up to their introductory offer by picking a case from a choice of introductory cases. After that, just sit back, and every 3 months the Sunday Times Wine Club will send you a new case. See their explainer picture below:
How To Sign Up
To join the Sunday Times Wine Club, just click here and pick away.
Alternatives To The Sunday Times Wine Club
Part of Richard Branson’s empire, Virgin Wines was established in 2000 and currently holds the title of Online Drinks Retailer of the Year. They offer three different wine club services, so you can choose which best suits you needs.
The Discovery Club provides 12 bottles of carefully chosen wine each quarter, which is perfect for wine connoisseurs who like to be introduced to new things without having to make decisions. The justREDS club features red wines exclusively, chosen by wine writer Matthew Jukes. WineBank, their most popular club, allows members to choose their own wines more freely, with flexibility on quantity and type. It offers free next-day delivery and the opportunity to earn a £1 bonus for every £5 you save into your account, as well as an attractive £40 voucher for new members. Any bottle you don’t enjoy can be returned for a full refund. The default monthly payment is £25, but you can control how much you spend and choose the wines you want.
The Wine Society has a storied history that begins at the Great Exhibition in 1874, to which wine growers from many countries sent casks. The wines were sampled over a series of special lunches, and one of the architects of the Royal Albert Hall, Major-General Henry Scott, suggested setting up a company that would allow members to try new wines on a regular basis. The Society has been buying wine direct from growers and sharing them with their members ever since.
These days, the Wine Society charges a one-off fee of £40 to join, and after that there’s no obligation to buy until you want to. They offer wines for both drinking immediately and laying down, from a variety of famous and lesser-known regions, and they have a variety of pre-mixed cases available for buyers looking for a little guidance. Each wine comes with tasting notes and a recommended drinking window.
This is a small, independent wine club dedicated to organic wines, as well as wines made following organic principles which are not officially certified as organic. The hand-picked wines on offer are vegan, free of allergens, usually low in sugar, made with no additives, and free of excessive sulphites.
There are three different subscription packages available. The Inquisitive Explorer offers three bottles a month for six months, with a choice of red, white or mixed boxes, and functions as an introduction to the world of organic wine. You can also choose a rolling subscription for delivery every 30, 60 or 90 days, with wines tailored to your tastes, customisable by type, style or body. Or if you prefer to buy wine on an ad hoc basis, a free membership gives you access to their comprehensive online store.
This site is dedicated particularly to showcasing delicious wines with no added sulphites. Excessive sulphites can contribute to wine allergy and hangover symptoms, and there is a growing demand for interesting and high-quality low-sulphite wines. This up-and-coming wine club offers pre-selected cases of healthier red and white wines with no added sulphites, ideal for anyone with a wine intolerance or allergy, as well as asthma sufferers.
Naked Wines is a customer-funded wine club, operating since 2008. Club members, known as Angels, invest £20 a month, which Naked Wines uses to support and develop independent wine makers. In return, Angels receive substantial discounts and exclusives on the resulting wines. Naked gives up-and-coming wine growers the stability needed to make high-quality wine and helps members discover new tastes.
There is a waiting list to become an Angel, but once you become a member, you can use the monthly £20 invested on any wine you choose. If you’re not yet a member, you can still take advantage of the online shop, just without the Angel discounts.
The long-established British retailer’s wine club offers a choice between two different plans, Club classic and Club reserva, with hand-picked, discounted white, red and mixed quarterly cases available for each. It’s straightforward to change your case preference each quarter, and you’ll be contacted when the case is being prepared in case you would like to try something different. Every wine comes with detailed tasting notes as well as other pertinent details such as the type of cork or cap, suggested food pairings and suitability for vegetarians and vegans. Each case includes free delivery, as well as discount vouchers for other wines that you might like to try. This is a simple and straightforward wine club for anyone looking to educate their palate.
The Stone, Vine and Sun Doorstep Dozen Wine Club is straightforward and customisable, allowing you to subscribe to cases of wine with free delivery at whatever frequency works best for you. Cases can be delivered monthly, every two months, or quarterly, and there are four different levels to suit a variety of budgets – Stone, Vine, Sun and Celestial. Each case contains two bottles each of three whites and three reds ready for immediate drinking, as well as tasting notes and discount vouchers for other wines you might like to try. The Doorstep Dozen specialises in Rhône, Burgundy, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire Valley, South Africa and South American wines, but they have an extensive range of all kinds from around the world.
Established in 1698, Berry Bros. & Rudd is Britain’s oldest retailer of wines and spirits and holds two royal warrants, having supplied to the royal family since the reign of King George III, as well as sold to customers like Lord Byron and Pitt the Younger. Every wine they sell is chosen carefully by one of their six highly experienced Masters of Wine. Their wine club offers four levels, starting from £120 per case and rising to £300. Each level includes one hand-picked 12-bottle case every alternate month, and every case includes six pairs of wines, with mixed or all-red cases available, and comes with tasting notes. Members can skip or swap cases whenever they like, and they also receive a 10% discount on the online shop, priority booking at events and invitations to exclusive tastings and dinners.
Founded in 2002, The Daily Drinker is run by a husband-and-wife team – Caspar and Victoria Bowes – who both have extensive experience in the wine trade. Founded with the aim of helping wine lovers try less familiar wines at their dining tables with family and friends, and not just on special occasions, their club membership offers mainly mono-varietal wines for straightforward everyday appreciation.
Membership comes in Bronze, Silver and Gold levels. Bronze offers monthly or bi-monthly two-bottle deliveries, and Silver and Gold combining regular two-bottle deliveries with less frequent six-bottle deliveries. Deliveries can contain red, white or mixed wines. There’s also the option to purchase a gift membership for someone else.
One of Britain’s oldest wine merchants, Averys was founded in Bristol in 1793 and is still based there today and run by the same family. They are pioneers of the wine world – in the 1960s and 1970s, they became the first UK wine merchants to import wine from Australia and New Zealand, and they continue to import interesting wines from around the world.
Averys offers three wine plans, each selected by Mimi Avery. The Signature Collection offers red, white and mixed cases for immediate drinking, including new wines and new vintage releases. The Cellar Collection is well suited to building up a stock of wine for special occasions. The Claret Collection focuses particularly on Bordeaux wines. Each plan includes free delivery of 12 hand-picked bottles every quarter.
Based in East Anglia, Adnams has been importing wine for over 40 years, and has an ever-evolving range. The Adnams Wine Club delivers four 12-bottle cases per year, with each wine carefully chosen by Master of Wine James Davis and his team and designed to complement the season. Members can choose between three price bands, as well as opting for all reds, all whites or a mixed selection, and membership comes with 10% off everything in their online shop. Each bottle comes with tasting notes and food pairing suggestions to help members get the most out of their wine.
Setup in 2014 by 2 former Bankers, Your Sommelier is a formidable wine subscription service, in the form of weekly and / or monthly offers. Their selection of wines and champagnes are all directly from the vineyard and sent straight to your front door. The selections of wines have been curated by the founders, who, on their many trips back and forth to France sampling, decided to pick the wines that they felt were most authentic to France and reminded them of home. Being a completely online business, Your Sommelier continues to grow its range of wines whilst making an ardent effort to educate its members on what it is that they are drinking. They have membership plans and gift cards for everyone, so there’s no excuse not to give them a shot.
Wine clubs aren’t for everyone. Some of us love the freedom to walk into a wine shop and pick what we like; believe me I get that. I can’t wait to run home with a new bottle of wine, grab that corkscrew, my favourite wine glass and just dive in…
However, some people like having their wines picked for them, they like to be educated, surprised and delighted all at the same time. And for that experience, wine clubs are fantastic. Having your stock curated and posted out to you is just convenient and exciting. And whilst I may not be one for wine clubs (because I enjoy picking out my own stock) I did join a gin club.
The Sunday Times Wine Club is the most famous wine club in the country. It’s a household name wine club. And they’re consistent and have been around for a while. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with trying different ice cream flavours – can’t eat vanilla forever…