I’ve got a friend that knows wine. Todd reads magazines like Wine Spectator, seems to always know which wineries are crafting the best product, and has a knack for recognizing great value. He’s a very handy guy to have around.
The problem, of course, is that he’s not always around. Not only that, while he has a great feel for what he likes, but may not have the same knack for me. Or you.
I like wine, but I don’t read the magazines and I’m not overly concerned with what’s hot or what the “proper pairings” might be. In fact, I’ve learned that I prefer red over white regardless of what I’m eating. And I’m just comfortable enough not to care much what anyone else thinks of my preferences. I would, however, like to know more about what I’m drinking and it would be great if I could find great wines– even great values – without investing a lot of time or effort. Come to think of it, I’d love to have a personal sommelier who could match wines to my palatte and preferences.
Wouldn’t you know? Someone else had a similar idea and Club W was the result. Club W is an “online community of wine enthusiasts committed to taking the hassle, guesswork and pretentiousness out of enjoying a great bottle of wine at a reasonable price.” They believe (and I wholeheartedly agree) that wine shouldn’t be about being told what to drink, but should instead be all about discovering what you like.
Club W achieves this with their unique palette profile. By asking a series of questions about food and spice preferences (“How do you like your coffee?”, “How do you feel about salt?”, “Do you like blackberries, blueberries and raspberries?” etc.), they can better match wine suggestions with your palette.
The wines themselves are chosen by the five curators, each boasting an impressive pedigreé. There are four sommeliers (including Brian Smith, an Advanced Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers) and Andrew Freeman, owner of a restaurant and hospitality PR firm. Each of them bring a unique background and a singular passion to their work: to deliver great wines directly to your door.
Club W is organized like a traditional club. Each month, they select and source 12 of the coolest small batch wines from around the world. Members can choose from these, or have them selected for you based on your palette profile. The minimum monthly order is three bottles for $39. Additional bottles are just $13 and all orders ship for free. You can cancel or skip an order at any time, and nothing ships without your prior approval.
The bottles they sell typically retail for between $15 and $20 (sometimes much more). According to Club W, A bottle of wine in a retail store has been marked up twice before you buy it: first by a distributor and then again by the retailer. When you buy wine through Club W you are actually purchasing directly from the wine maker or the importer, which helps them deliver the same bottle for less.
Club W believes that learning about wine should be fun, interesting, and easy; not overbearing and pretentious. To help, they produce a short video for every wine they select featuring one of the curators discussing tasting notes, background information such as the producer’s story, and an explanation of the growing regions or a short primer on the varietal. Each video is light and upbeat (like the descriptions of the wine itself) and aims to explain things in terms anyone can understand. Even better, each bottle you receive contains a quick-response (QR) code that will take you directly to the video when you scan it with your smartphone.
Club W says their mission is to transform choosing wine into an “ongoing conversation between our curators and your personal tastes,” all with the goal of making choosing wine as simple and pleasurable as drinking it. Judging by the first shipment I received, I’d say they’re on the right track.