This wine subscription service makes a great last-minute gift
I tried Usual Wines by-the-glass bottles and here’s what happened.
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Remember bars? You know, those places where you walk inside, sidle up to the counter, and peruse a physical menu before kindly asking a bartender for your beverage of choice. Since the pandemic hit the U.S. back in March, most of our favorite cocktail lounges, beer gardens, saloons (if these are still a thing), and other local watering holes have been closed. As someone missing their local bars terribly, I’m always down to try a new wine delivery service that will bring my beverage of choice (vino) to my front door.
Enter: Usual Wines, the Instagram-famous wine brand that promises to deliver “the perfect glass of wine.” I tried this by-the-glass wine bottle delivery service and here’s what happened.
What is Usual Wines?
Co-founded in 2018 by husband-and-wife duo Rachel Vodofsky and Matt Dukes, Usual Wines is the by-the-glass wine delivery service that followed the wildly popular first wine venture for the couple, Vinebox. Each bottle of Usual Wines is exactly 6.3 oz., giving consumers a "fresh, full glass (and candidly, a bit more)." Unlike Vinebox, in which you sample 100 ml of nine different wines, Usual Wines offers 12 single-serve bottles of wine per box.
The wine itself is sustainably farmed across many different regions of California, aimed at highlighting the nuances of the microclimates within this state. Usual Wines Red comes from the mountains, while Rosé is from the warm coastal region.
How does it work?
To order Usual Wines, first you select the type of wine you'd like in your box: red, brut (sparkling white), rosé, or a mix of all three. There are also seasonal offerings like the Usual Spritz (their take on a summery wine spritz) and the now sold-out Usual Reserve—these are sold separately, and can't be included in your box. You'll also need to specify quantity, selecting 6, 12, 18, or 24 bottles per box.
Once you select your wine, you'll need to choose between a one-time delivery ($48-$192) or a monthly subscription ($40-$160 per month). Subscription box shipments are automatically processed every 30 days from your sign up date—these monthly plans receive a 17% discount off each box, but require a minimum two-month commitment. After that two months is up (you will have received two boxes), you can cancel anytime via your account or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
As with all things alcohol, you must be 21 or older to order Usual Wines and will need to show government issued ID at the time of delivery. (Yes, even during COVID, so be sure to wear your mask when answering the door.) Usual Wines only ships within the U.S. and can not ship to Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia due to government restrictions.
What we liked
- Packaging was minimal yet sturdy, and 100% recyclable.
- Glass is also 100% recyclable.
- Ordering is straightforward.
- Website is user-friendly.
What we didn't like
- Limited variety.
- The only white wine option is sparkling.
- Slightly more expensive than buying bottles of the same caliber, unless you opt for a subscription.
Can I gift Usual Wines?
Yes! In fact, we think Usual Wine would make a great gift for the wine lover on your list. For gifting, you’ve got three options: give a digital Usual Wines gift card, send a box of 12 bottles (available in red, white, or mixed), or set your giftee up with a subscription. Once you enter the recipient's shipping address, you'll have the option to include a gift message with your purchase.
Make sure there is someone 21 or older to sign for the wine box you're gifting, and definitely confirm your giftee doesn't live in a state Usual Wines can't deliver to.
Is it worth it?
As an avid wine drinker, I have mixed feelings about Usual Wines. On the one hand, Usual Wines has definitely recreated the feeling of ordering an overpriced glass of wine at a bar or restaurant, especially for those opting for a one-time purchase. A 12-bottle box of Usual Wine delivered monthly is $80, which is 75.6 oz. of wine total. A typical bottle of wine is about 25 oz., so you get about three full bottles of wine in every 12-bottle box from Usual Wines. By this math, each bottle would cost $26.67, which could be a lot of money for someone (hello, me) buying multiple bottles a week, single-serving or full-size.
On the other hand, Usual Wines sources its products thoughtfully by choosing to work with sustainable, small farmers over conventional methods. So it could be argued that such practices are worth spending a bit extra.
Usual Wines is worth it if you'd rather have your wine delivered than leave your house this winter. If the price tag doesn't scare you away, this service could be an especially great option for folks who drink their wine slowly and in small quantities. The single-serve design doesn't work for me personally as I'm a two-glass kind of gal, but I've spoken to many one-and-done wine drinkers who love the Usual Wines concept.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.