Life has changed dramatically for all of us in the last couple of years with Covid-19. We have had restrictions in our normal lives and even complete lockdowns. It has impacted businesses in many different ways, but what about the wine industry? Restaurants will have been closed so you won’t have been able to indulge in your favourite tipple. However, that hasn’t stopped you from enjoying a glass or two at home. Many people haven’t even wanted to go to the supermarket, so this is where online shopping comes into its own. Wine subscription services have been taking full advantage of this strange time and many have been recording increased sales.
The wine subscription service we will be taking a look at in this article is Wine Insiders. The president of this company, Louis Amoroso, has said that sales have increased five-fold during the pandemic. However, are their wines worth the increased trade?
What Sort of a Company is Wine Insiders?
Wine Insiders is both a subscription and delivery service. If you just want to order a bottle or two for yourself or as a gift, just go online and put in the order. The wine will be delivered straight to your door. However, you also have the option of joining their club and taking out a subscription. You will be sent a box of twelve wines every twelve weeks.
The wine for either option comes not only from the US but from around the world. They are offered at affordable prices, often less than at the supermarket. Wine Insiders also pledge not to add in hidden costs.
We think that the choice between ordering wine a la carte or joining the club is an excellent one. Most companies offer either online shopping or a wine subscription service.
Wine Insiders doesn’t make big claims. It allows the wine to speak for itself. There’s nothing worse than being given a lot of hype and then being disappointed.
However, there isn’t really anything that distinguishes it from its competitors.
What Buying Options Do You Get with Wine Insiders?
There are a number of options to choose from when browsing the Wine Insiders website.
A la Carte. If you just want to buy a few bottles, you can go into the online store and choose your wine. There is a wide range of stock on offer. You can filter by the categories of red, white or a mixture of both, country of origin, sweetness or dryness, and price. You will notice that the price of the wines is reasonable, even in the vintage collection. You will notice that some wines will have been rated by customers, while others won’t be. Of course, not all wines will be available at the same time.
Gift Sets. You can buy a boxed set of wine ranging from three to twelve bottles. These make an excellent gift for friends or family. You can choose a theme or alternatively, a country or region. There is, for example, a wine set called ‘California Classics’.Of course, you might just want to buy a set for yourself to try out new flavours or revisit tried and tested varietals.
Martha Stewart Wine Set. Martha Stewart and Company have partnered with Wine Insiders to create wine gift sets. They are arranged in sets for different occasions such as date nights, cocktail parties, birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries. In addition, you can also buy a la carte wine in this category.
The Club. The Club is probably the most important aspect of Wine Insiders. You subscribe to receive twelve bottles of wine every twelve weeks. We will be taking a more in-depth look into this later in the article.
Wine Insiders is versatile. You have a number of different options to choose from. It fulfills all needs. However, there is also the worry that if they are putting their eggs in so many baskets they are spreading themselves too thin. They might be better just concentrating on the a la carte side or, alternatively, on the wine subscription service.
How Does the Wine Subscription Service Function?
You are only offered one membership option, unlike some other wine subscription services that may offer deliveries at one, three, and six-month intervals.
These are the main features of Wine Insiders:
- You get twelve bottles of wine delivered to your door every three months. With your first delivery, you will receive three free bottles of wine.
- You can select the colour of wine you want from red, white, or a mixed pack. Some companies don’t offer this and you get what you are given. However, you won’t get any wine recommendations.
- The shipments are sent out automatically, but you are free to cancel at any time. You don’t need to give any notice.
- The boxes of wine cost the same each time so you may get more expensive wine at a cheaper price. The cost is reasonable and it is unlikely that you would be able to buy wine at this price in the supermarket.
It is straightforward to join The Club. There are no hidden fees so you don’t have to worry that your card is going to be charged more than you expected.
However, Wine Insiders doesn’t offer a quiz that might determine your taste in wine, so you may sometimes end up with a wine you don’t like. Some other wine subscription services do offer this option. With Wine Insiders, you just get the choice of the colour of the wine.
What are the Policies for Shipping and Handling?
Shipping and handling are very important aspects before you decide to take up a wine subscription. These are the most important factors.
- The Club offers free shipping which is a bonus. It is interesting to note that if you buy a la carte you get free shipping if you buy six or more bottles.
- Wine Insiders will ship to the US apart from the following states; South Dakota, Utah, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Delaware, Rhode Island, Hawaii, and Alaska. Unfortunately, they also don’t deliver to P.O. Boxes.
- There must be someone of legal drinking age to sign for the shipment. This may vary from state to state.
- You can choose to have the shipment delivered to your home or to work. You can also pick it up from a FedEx Hold location.
Free shipping is an advantage as is the option to deliver to different addresses.
Can You Get a Refund From Wine Insiders?
It’s always a good idea to see what the refund policy is on refunds when you join a wine subscription service or order a la carte online.
- If you receive damaged packages or you don’t receive an order, you must report this to Wine Insiders within 60 days. We are sure that if either scenario happened, you would do this straight away.
- A drawback if you are ordering a la carte is that you won’t be refunded your shipping costs.
- If you have problems, there is an email address that you can write to, but this is not as good as having a phone number to ring. However, there is also a live chat option which is better than the email option.
- The refund policy is not as clear as it could be. They say that they will put things right, but this is no guarantee that you are going to get a refund.
It seems that the chances are that you won’t get a full refund if you order a la carte. However, you should do from the Wine Club, although it will depend on how many bottles are damaged. You won’t get a refund if you just look at the bottles and decide that you don’t want to try them.
However, it doesn’t say exactly how you will be compensated. Maybe you will get the money or perhaps your account will be credited against future purchases.
Where Do Wine Insiders Get Their Wine From and of What Quality is It?
It is interesting to find out more about the wine that you are purchasing. An artisan wine, for example, will taste completely different from one that is produced in bulk even if it is the same variety.
With Wine Insiders, it isn’t clear how they have sourced their wine, but each bottle does offer a little information such as the country of origin. They source wine from such countries as Spain, South Africa, Portugal, New Zealand, Italy, Germany, France, Chile, Australia, the US, and Argentina. They claim to source wines from some of the best regions in the world and the best wineries. They do have some signature wines, but there are more wine blends on offer.
Most wines come from the US, and we’d like to see more international wines. The selection is fairly limited compared to other wine subscription services. We also feel that there isn’t enough information about the wines on the website. It would be nice to know about the wines without having to do extra research on the internet.
Our consensus is that Wine Insiders do offer better wines than bulk wines, but they don’t offer enough vintage and artisan wines.
What are the Wine Varieties That Wine Insiders Offers?
If you are buying wine a la carte, you can choose your wine varieties. However, if you join The Club, you will be given a random assortment. These are some of the wines that Wine Insiders stocks:
Red; Zinfandel, Tempranillo, Shiraz, Sangiovese Blend, Sangiovese, Red Blend, Pinot Noir, Nero d’Avola, Montelpulciano, Merlot, Malbec, Carmenere, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon. Barbera, Aglianico.
White: Viognier, White Blend, Verdicchio, Verdejo, Trebbiano, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris/Grigio, Muscadet, Lambrusco, Glera, Fiano, Falanghina, Colombard, Chardonnay
Rose: Moscato, Red Blend, Grenacto Blend, Aglianico, Baga.
There are plenty of wine varieties, but it would still be nice to see more coming from all over the world.
When ordering a la carte, it would be nice to be able to sort the wine by price and also the sweetness or dryness of the wine.
The wine is reasonably priced, but perhaps a few more vintage wines wouldn’t go amiss if you’re ordering a la carte.
Does Wine Insiders Provide Much Information About the Wines They Offer?
There is basic information such as if it is sweet or dry, the wine variety, and where it comes from. On the label, you will be able to discover the flavours of the wine, but it might be nice to have this on the website for a la carte shopping.
There is room for improvement. They could give more information about the wines, such as the acidity, the level of residual sugars, aromas, flavours, tannins, and food pairings.
A good feature, however, is that they add customer reviews so you can see what other people thought of the wine.
Do Wine Insiders Deliver on What They Promise?
It’s time to take a look at what other professionals think of Wine Insiders.
- Better Business Bureau. This company rates businesses of all types, but surprisingly doesn’t give Wine Insiders a rating. There aren’t even any customer complaints recorded. However, this isn’t that uncommon with online companies. All that Better Business Bureaus says about Wine Insiders is that they have been around for three decades.
- Site Jabber. There are 66 reviews on Site Jabber about Wine Insiders and they have been given an average rating of three out of five stars. Strangely enough, half of the reviews were rated as high as possible, while half were rated very low. Bad reviews focused on shipping problems and bad customer service, while good reviews mentioned how easy it was to order from them and that the wine was affordable.
Most of the reviews that we read were more concerned about delivery and customer service rather than about the quality of wine which seems to indicate that people were middle of the road about the wine itself. Even the positive reviews didn’t say much about the wine itself.
We also feel that it is more likely that people are going to give a negative review rather than a positive one unless the wine and service are outstanding.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it a good idea to join a wine club?
We think so especially if you are new to wine and want to try different wines to see what you like. Joining a wine club is convenient. You get the wine delivered to your door every three months without having to do anything. All you have to do initially is choose the wine club, subscribe, and wait for your first delivery.
During this time of social distancing, you might not want to go to the supermarket or off licence, so why not have wine delivered to your door. After all, a lot of people have been doing this for their regular shopping.
Do You Get Free Shipping with a Wine Club?
Some offer free shipping while others don’t, but we have found that most do and Wine Insiders is one of these. They also offer free shipping on a la carte orders if you order six or more bottles. However, if you return any damaged bottles, there may be restocking fees.
Do Any Wine Clubs Use A Quiz?
There are some wine clubs that offer a quiz before you subscribe. They will ask such questions as do you prefer red or white, do you like sweet or dry wine, what food do you want to pair the wine with, and what flavours and aromas you like. Unfortunately, Wine Insiders doesn’t offer this service., but companies such as Bright Cellars and Wincs do. The advantage with this is that you will hopefully get the wines you like and continue with the subscription.
Would We Recommend That You Sign Up With Wine Insiders?
I think you will agree that this review has been mixed. There are good and bad points about Wine Insiders. However, they are reasonably priced and do send a variety of different wines in your delivery every three months. If you are looking for signature and vintage wines, this club isn’t for you, but otherwise, we recommend giving it a go. The great thing is that if you’re not happy with the wines, you can cancel the subscription at any time. You really have nothing to lose apart from the first payment and then you get three bottles of wine free so it’s a win-win situation. If you’re still not sure, why don’t you order a bottle or two from the a la carte selection? This will give you an idea about the quality of the wine they offer. You will also get an impression of the delivery service and if it suits you. You do have to remember that someone of legal drinking age must sign for the wine and somebody must be at home. They won’t just leave the wine on your doorstep. However, there is the option to have the wine delivered to your place of work, but remember that the wine will be heavy if you have a long way to walk to your car.
An Alternative Wine Subscription
There are plenty of wine subscription services out there to choose from that you will probably be spoiled for choice. However, our top alternative is The California Wine Club. Better Business Bureau gives them an A-plus rating so you can’t really get a better recommendation than that. They have been operating successfully for almost 30 years. The advantage they have over Wine Insiders is that they offer artisan and vintage wines as well as more affordable brands.