Note: If you want to snag this service for yourself, use promo code Kinja to waive the $5 shipping fee on your introductory box.
Every time I buy wine at the store, I spend far too much time picking six bottles (have to get that 10% discount, you know) based on price, style, and mostly, how eye-catching the labels are. I think I’ve found a better system with Firstleaf.
Firstleaf is an online wine club with great prices, terrific presentation, and the smarts to learn your tastes as time goes on. When you sign up, you’ll take a three-question quiz that requires no real knowledge of wine, beyond what you like drinking, after which you’ll receive a three-bottle promo box for $15, plus $5 shipping. That’s basically $7 per bottle, and all of the bottles in my sample had MSRPs over $20. Each one also includes an information card to tell you where it came from, how it should taste, and what foods it pairs well with.
Once you’ve enjoyed your wine, log back in and give each bottle a simple thumbs up, thumbs down, or leave the rating blank if you were indifferent. If you really loved it, you can even buy a six pack for $80, plus $5 shipping. Firstleaf will customize your next box (which automatically ships after one, two, or three months based on your preferences, though you can change the date at will) accordingly.
Thereafter, your deliveries will include six bottles for $80 (regardless of their combined MSRPs), plus $10 shipping. Price-wise, that’s not nearly as enticing as the trial box, but it still probably beats what you’d pay in the store. And as always, you can rate your wines as you drink them to help Firstleaf tweak its algorithm and deliver wines that you’ll love.
If you don’t mind ruining the surprise, you have the option to preview your next six bottles online, and perform up to three random swaps per box - reds will be substituted with reds, and whites with whites, but otherwise, you have no control over this process. I suppose this helps them control inventory and keep prices low, but with no “undo” button, it’s a bit of a nerve wracking experience. <Paul Giamatti voice> What if they give me merlot!
Wine clubs have been around for decades, and Firstleaf is hardly the only online-native option out there. That said, they seem to offer some of the best pricing and delivery flexibility on the market, albeit at the expense of choosing exactly what bottles you receive. For that reason, I’d recommend it to people that enjoy drinking wine, but who aren’t very picky, or who don’t care enough to learn much about it. Turns out, that’s me! I’m going to keep subscribing.