Is Winc the best wine club you can join? We tried it to find out
Winc is one of the best things I've bought during quarantine.
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If you know me, you know that I cherish my after-work wine time. Last year, in the midst of a pandemic, I tried to leave the house as little as possible and instead I let the alcohol come to me. I shopped around a bit for a solid wine subscription delivery service. We’ve tested and loved Firstleaf, but I’d heard a lot about Winc, so I signed up over the summer—and I haven’t looked back since.
What is Winc?
Winc is a membership club that delivers wine to its subscribers each month. Unlike other services, you can pick which bottles you get and how many you get, so you can customize your membership depending on your tastes as you enter the world of wine.
Winc works with a variety of winemakers and vineyards across the world, including a network of independent winemakers, to produce and sell its own wines. The company also has its own winemaker and sommelier who oversee wine production at the company. So while Winc works with distributors and winemakers, all of its wines are made under the Winc label.
How does Winc work?
When you first arrive at Winc’s website, you’re prompted with a quiz that figures out which wine blends are best suited to your taste. Questions like, “How do you take your coffee?” and “What are your thoughts on citrus?” help the site narrow down exactly which wines are best suited to your personal taste.
Winc recommends four bottles for you to start, but you can change them if you spot one that isn’t quite your taste. When I took the quiz, it recommended three whites and one red. I don’t like red wine, but I accepted all four suggestions to see if the site knew better than I did. Spoiler alert: It did.
What we love about Winc
All four of my suggested wines were on point, and as the months have ticked by, I’ve yet to be disappointed by a wine in my monthly shipment. Plus, Winc has a sassy little widget on its homepage reminding me that I have a “type” when it comes to wine—it’s actually incredibly helpful, because I’ve never been able to really articulate what I like about certain wines before. Now I know I prefer dry, low-sulfur, and low-sugar wine, which is truly the most adult thing I’ve ever written about myself (welcome to 30).
Here are some of the things I love most about Winc:
The wine recommendations are fantastic.
There are a few gifts I’ve been blessed with in life—being able to pick out a good bottle of wine from a lineup is not one of them. If it’s not a brand I’ve tried, I’m not great at figuring out whether I’d like it. And I’m sure the fact that I pick out bottles purely based on labels doesn’t help.
Winc did an incredible job recommending wines that I actually liked. My first four bottles were delicious. Here were my first four wines and how I felt about each:
- 2019 Pacificana Chardonnay: Yes, just like your aunt, I am a sucker for a good chard. And this one did not disappoint. This was my favorite of the batch, and Pacificana is a brand I’ve gone back to over and over in my successive Winc shipments. I told Winc I liked chardonnay and it delivered.
- 2019 Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy Sauvignon Blanc: Anything with “lemon” in the name would usually have me running in the other direction, but I was actually really impressed with this wine. It wasn’t sweet, thankfully, but was instead a deliciously refreshing summer wine my mother and I both enjoyed.
2019 Porter & Plot Sauvignon Blanc: I really didn’t think I’d be such a big fan of sauvignon blanc until I downed my second bottle from this shipment. This wine was particularly fruity, but not sugary. I liked the Lemon Squeezy better, but definitely didn’t complain about having to drink this one.
- 2019 The Bluffer Valdiguié: I don’t like red wine. OK, I love red wine, but red wine gives me migraines, so I don’t drink it often. I almost rejected this selection, but for the sake of science, I accepted all four of my initial wines from Winc. And I am so happy I did. This was my second favorite from the box—it was rich, flavorful, and paired beautifully with the chocolate torte recipe the site suggested (more on that later).
Overall, Winc sent me a number of wines I would have never reached for myself—reds, sauvignon blancs, and fruity drinks. And surprisingly, I loved each one.
It includes a lot of information about each bottle.
Winc not only tells you exactly what you like in a wine (remember, I like my wines dry and boring), but it includes sliding scales on individual wine pages noting which flavors are most prominent in each bottle. It also tells you how much alcohol is in each bottle, its sulfur content, prominent tastes, and reviews from the Winc community.
Winc also recommends wines that are similar to the ones you’ve already liked, meaning you can keep expanding your palate without worrying about buying blends you know you won’t like.
Winc recommends recipes for each of your wines.
I am a sucker for a wine-recipe pairing, so when I figured out that Winc would recommend a recipe to go with each of its wines, I was thrilled. Winc partnered with Food52, one of my favorite places for online recipes, and matched each of its wines with a selection from the site.
For my first shipment, I opted to make the fudgy chocolate cake that went with the Bluffer Valdiguié, the only red wine in my box. I’m an avid baker and chocolate enthusiast, so my standards are high when it comes to dessert recipes. But in true Food52 fashion, this recipe delivered—and the wine pairing was spot on. The dark chocolate perfectly complemented the rich red wine, and it’s a pairing I definitely plan on repeating in the future.
What Winc could improve
I’ve been using Winc since June, so at this point, I’ve gotten four shipments of wine. I have been highly satisfied with my experience so far, but as with any service, there are things I’m not too crazy about.
Inventory gets low quickly.
Some of the wines from Winc are top-notch—and I’m not the only buyer who thinks so. My two favorite wines from June, the Pacificana Chardonnay and the Bluffer Valdiguié, are sold out. I love knowing that I got a chance to try out some of the more popular bottles, but I’d also like a chance to return to them. However, we are in the midst of a global pandemic where most people are staying home, so I can’t knock Winc (or any company, really) for having inventory issues right now.
The pricing is a little confusing.
As much as I love Winc, it’s payment model is a little confusing. I’ll break it down below, but it took me a few times to figure out if I was really saving any money with a membership. Ultimately, the membership saves you a few dollars per bottle per month. Since I have no problem getting rid of four bottles of wine per month, I’m saving anywhere from $8 to $10 per month on wine I’d already be buying. But that doesn’t stop me from scratching my head every time it comes to paying for my monthly Winc shipment.
How much is Winc per month?
The amount of money you spend on Winc each month really depends on how much wine you purchase. Once per month, users get charged $59.95 for “Insider Access Credits.” This means you essentially pre-pay for about $60 worth of wine. If you buy more than $60 worth of wine, you pay the difference; if you buy less, you accumulate credits over time.
Being a Winc member means you get lower prices on wine. For example, my favorite bottle of wine from Winc is the 2019 Pacificana Rosé. The “regular price” is $22.99, but the “W price” is $17.99. By maintaining my membership status, I save $5 on my rosé. Confusingly, however, you can only purchase Winc wines by being a member… so the “regular price” doesn’t actually appear to be there for any reason other than showing you that you’re saving money on the retail price.
How long does Winc take to deliver?
Thankfully, Winc doesn’t take very long to deliver. I’ve received four shipments from Winc this summer, all of which have shipped within 2-5 days of ordering. The shipment emails come with tracking, which is helpful, since you have to be home to present your ID in order to receive your shipment. The packages themselves arrive from FedEx, and all of mine came within another 2-4 days. It’s also important to note that there are six states that don’t allow alcohol delivery: Utah, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, Rhode Island, and Deleware.
Winc takes about 4-10 days for final delivery, in my experience.
Should you sign up for Winc?
Winc is a great subscription service for wine lovers who are looking to experience new flavors and blends. If you have a particular brand you’re already married to, it’s not the service for you—Winc makes and sells its own wines, so you won’t find popular brands you can pick up at the liquor store.
For me, Winc has been an incredible experience so far. I’m a casual wine drinker who loves trying new wines within my flavor profile, and I’m not picky about brands or types. If you’re already buying four or more bottles of wine each month—and you’re not too picky about your wines—Winc is an excellent choice.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.