If you are a lover of find food and wine, month clubs offer a unique way to experience the wide variety of epicurean delights available. Just a click of your mouse sets in motion the wonderful convenience of having products delivered to your doorstep.
Whether you relish the anticipation of trying out new foods or simply enjoy re-ordering your long-time favorite wine, month clubs work to fit just about anyone’s pocketbook or preferences. Let’s take a closer look at some of the wines you can choose from as well as the top features of these clubs.
Most wine clubs have a person or group of people who are experts on various types of wines. If you desire a systematic experience with wine, month clubs can facilitate that for you.
- Maybe you are interested in a tour, which takes you through a series of wines all of the same type. This could be wines all from the same region or country, or those made from the same type of grape.
- You can request consecutive wines in a flight, which refers to selections from the same grape type and price range—for example, if you wanted to experience Zinfandels in the $20 per bottle range.
- Then you have the vertical or horizontal tastings. A vertical experience allows you to sample a variety of vintages that all come from the same area. You could try out many different wines all available from a particular vintner whose geography or reputation interests you.
- A horizontal tasting brings you the same vintage but from a variety of vintners; this is when you want only Chardonnays but chosen from many vinyards.
- If you request a Grand Tour you will be shown the best wines in a vintage or category from a variety of vintners.
With a wine club, you have many delivery and billing options. You can decide whether to get one or two bottles of wine. Many clubs deliver by the case. You will always receive a bulletin that tells you about the wine’s production. Most clubs allow you to choose whether you will prepay for automatic shipments or opt for monthly billing until you cancel. And the top clubs allow you to order additional quantities of a wine that you have particularly enjoyed—at a members-only price advantage.
Are you a novice who could use some help in selecting the best wine? Month clubs provide you with detailed descriptions of their current presentations and educate you about the origin of various categories and the importance of vintage. You will also learn about pairing the right wine with appropriate food choices for your dinner guests.
Maybe you have already established a reputation for knowledge about wine among your friends and business associates. Wine month clubs offer the benefit of expertise from dedicated oenophiles that will enhance your cultural experiences. It’s time to try such a club.
Six Basic Types of Wine
There are six basic types of wine, and a good wine club of the month will introduce you to each of them.
- Red wines come from darker grapes, sometimes called black grapes. The skins remain part of the process when the grapes are fermented. When you drink Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, or Syrah, you are experiencing a red wine.
- White wines are made from white grapes—the ones that actually look green or gold to the eye. Sometimes darker grapes are utilized, but their skins are removed. If you choose Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay (including the popular Chablis), Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, Gerwütztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and Semillon, you are trying a white wine.
- Rosé wine results when the vintner begins the fermentation process with darker grapes and then removes the skins before the process is completed. He can adjust the color of the wine accordingly. Rosés also result from blended wines. You will also hear them referred to as blush wines.
- Sparkling wines are carbonated—you know them as champagne. But true champagne comes only from a specific area in France. Sparkling wines with similar characteristics are, however, produced in many places throughout the world.
- Fortified wines include brandy, sherry, and port, which are wines fermented to produce a higher level of alcohol content. Often they contain more sugar than the average dessert wine.
- Dessert wines are sweeter wines (but not necessarily stronger wines), resulting from more time on the vine before harvest or with sugar added during fermentation. Note that vintners in the warm California climates are not permitted to add sugar. Dessert wines stand up to sweet fruits served for dessert or even match the bold taste of fine chocolate.
When you choose a wine club of the month, you will opt for wine selections that fit your general tastes and pocketbook. Prices range from $20 to $150—and beyond. Some people prefer to receive just their favorite type, and others like to be surprised when the monthly or quarterly offering arrives.
You will also learn about wine ratings. Most clubs adhere to ratings provided by a varying panel of oenophiles whose hobby is wine tasting and evaluation. A wine’s number will range from 50 through 100, and think of this number as corresponding to a school’s letter grade. A rank of 100-90 deserves an A. If you see a score of 89 to 80, it is a B. The key to interpreting this is that while an 84 and an 83 will be very similar, a 90 will be decidedly better than an 89. Wines in the Seventies are C wines, and the Sixties earn a D. Do you really want to try something in the Fifties?
Expect a wine club of the month to take you to new heights in your search for products that you will love and seek out. This kind of club allows access to products at better prices than you will find elsewhere, so you will be able to recommend your favorites to friends and give them as gifts.
The Sunday Times Wine Club
This wine club is more akin to the clubs that you will find elsewhere on the internet, but backed with the solid reputation of the Sunday Times in its attention to quality and policies for doing business. There are many choices for types of clubs to sign up for, or you can look for specific suggestions.
The Four Seasons Plan sends you twelve bottles every two or three months—per your wishes—chosen from fascinating regions that might be located anywhere in the world. Whether you want to want to try Australia’s astounding whites or South Africa’s bold reds, these cases come in at ₤39.99.
You’ll also find A Taste of Spain, or the Rioja Club for those who love Spain’s best red wines. Try Vinitalia or Le Chai au Quai if those are your regions. There are also Big Reds—if you love dark grapes—and the Claret Club for the best in Bordeaux The President’s Cellar allows you the right of first refusal for wines chosen personally by the Club’s president, including tasting notes, plus exceptional savings on your first shipment of six bottles. Prices vary for each of these wonderful club options.
If you’d rather not commit to a shipment every two or three months, it is possible simply to experience varietals recommended by your fellow wine lovers. You can also opt for bin ends—fine wines available for less because stock has run low.
No matter which of these fine Times Wine Clubs you choose, you will be able to place the finest bottles on your table and share notes with fellow oenophiles the world over.
The New York Times Wine Club
If you live in the United States or the United Kingdom, there are two fine wine clubs to keep you apprised of the latest and best to be had in the world of wine. The New York Times Wine Club services those aged 21 and above in half of the states (see list below), and the Sunday Times Wine Club, located in Berkshire, delivers to customers 18 and older throughout the UK.
Expect selections from this club from small, family-run, boutique wineries from around the world. Actually, this club has two categories of membership: There is the Times Sampler, which provides six bottles during a one-year membership, for a membership fee of $90. Four will be red, and two will be white. You will receive recipes to match each selection as well as a bottle’s wine notes.
You can also choose the Times Reserve. Selections cost $180 per six-bottle shipment of four red and two white selections.
What might a wine’s notes include? For a recent Rhone Valley syrah selection, the customer learned about the vintners and their roles in the wine yard. The soil composition of the area was discussed—a clay, flint, and limestone mixture that resulted in grapes better than the average Côtes du Rhône vintages. Half of the grapes fermented in tanks made of stainless steel, and the other half matured in oak tanks; the two wines were then blended to create a woody, fruity flavor with a hint of spice. You will also learn about tasting tags—which included, in this case, violet, dried rose, and brandied cherry. Aromas are also covered; you do not have to swirl a glass of wine to release its aromas before you taste it, but many people insist that this does heighten the experience.
Benefits of the New York Times Wine Club include a ten percent discount per case ordered. Selections are sought from places the world over that you might not ordinarily come across. You can cancel your membership at any time. You will also receive ideas on menu pairings for your wines. And you cannot match the experience of the experts who make the selections.
This club will also keep you abreast of what’s in the news in the world of wine, as well as food and travel notes from all over.
Note: In the US that this club cannot ship its products to AK, AL, AR, CO, DE, FL, GA, IN, KS, KY, MD, ME, MN, MS, MT, NC, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, UT, VT, WA, or WI.