I tried a suspiciously generous $100-off deal to Naked Wines and was happily surprised by the quality

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  • Nakedwines.com has great “easy drinking” wines and a unique model that supports small winemakers.
  • It’s like “Shark Tank” – winemakers propose their blends and get an advance to produce their wine.
  • The advance is funded by customers, who can score bottles up to 60% off listed prices.

Shipping Charge (small)

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If buying unique wines at wholesale prices and having them delivered to your doorstep sounds ideal, you should check out Nakedwines.com.

The 12-year-old company invests in over 150 indie winemakers around the world and uses a lean business model to bring unique, high-end wines to market for cheap.

For shoppers, Nakedwines.com is a relatively inexpensive way to get good, unique wines sent to their door. For winemakers, it’s kind of like a “Shark Tank” for their industry: They propose a wine, it gets approved, and Nakedwines.com gives them an advance to make it happen. Part of how the company has the funds to operate this way is through over 100,000 voluntary “Angel” customers who act as investors.

Once accepted into the program (and I’d wager every “applicant” is), Angel members invest $40 every month into their Naked Wine piggy bank. This pool of crowdfunded money helps Naked Wine invest in its winemakers, but it’s also never lost to Angel members; the $40 in the virtual piggy bank can be used on their individual wine orders whenever they like – in other words, it’s pretty much like a wine bank account.

If all goes to plan, it’s good for the company, the consumers, and the winemakers – like Carmen Stevens, reportedly South Africa’s first black woman to graduate in wine-making (funded by 2,000 Angel members and $200,000 in eight hours).

To be clear, what you’re getting is not quite a wine subscription in the traditional sense. You can just buy wine directly from the site as you would anywhere else (though you need to order six bottles to ship), but the site’s Angel members get special perks. They save 40-60% on all their orders and get a ton of freebies and perks like samples of other wines included in their deliveries, a bottle of Angel-funded wine worth $20 or more each month they order a case of wine, access to Angel-only wines, invites to wine tastings to meet the winemakers, and access to an exclusive priority hotline for any needed support.

nakedwines.com review
Nakedwines.com sells affordable bottles that are what I’d call “easy drinking” wines – perfect for casual drinking.

I’d wager most people wind up on the site thanks to a suspiciously generous $100 voucher for new customers – I received mine inside the box of a Bloomingdale’s purchase. Using the voucher, I got a Discovery Case with 12 bottles of wine across a wide spectrum of offerings from the site. With the $100 voucher – which you can also get by clicking the top right-hand button that says “voucher” and entering your email – the case was $79.99, instead of its current sale price of $179.99 (its traditional cost is listed at $264). This promo varies a bit depending on how many bottles are in the box – my colleague redeemed a $50 voucher for six bottles of wine.

In-person, the wines are good. I was satisfied and even a little surprised by their quality given the fact that I received $100 off lots of wine. The affordable bottles were what you’d call “easy drinking” wines – none that were bold and weird and revelatory – but perfect for casual drinking. Nakedwines.com hit the “weekday wine” niche perfectly.

Shipping is also inexpensive. For orders under $100, Nakedwines.com typically charges $10. For orders $100 and more, delivery is free – except for New Jersey, Hawaii, and Alaska, (you can find rates for these states here). Wines will be delivered in four to seven business days (Monday-Friday or Tuesday-Saturday) during regular business hours, but make sure that there is someone over 21 years old who can sign for the package.

One thing I would stress is that if you have any difficulty with your shipment, or you don’t like a wine, you should contact Nakedwines.com for help. My experiences with them were as a consumer rather than a reporter, and I was impressed by their easygoing willingness to make sure I had a positive experience, even when it wasn’t to their immediate advantage. This means that if you really hated a wine, they’ll refund you. The site has a “cast-iron, no questions asked, 100% guarantee.”

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Winemaker Jen Pfeiffer showcasing her Diamond Merlot: rich and complex with plummy mulberry fruit. She recommends it with veggie lasagna or herb crumbed pork schnitzel.

What makes Nakedwines.com even more appealing is that it’s also pretty social. Winemakers and members interact with each other. Winemakers get feedback directly from customers, and customers can ask them questions. Indirectly, members can rate and recommend wines to each other.

This communication creates an optional whirlpool of discovery and self-improvement, which is baked into the business from the top down to the granular level of your account; if you don’t like a wine, give it a thumbs down in your Naked Me account. From then on, they’ll help steer you away from wines that taste similar to the ones you didn’t enjoy. Nakedwines.com also uses this as an indirect polling system, helping them determine which winemakers are doing the best job of making wines people really love.

The bottom line

All in all, Nakedwines.com has good wine for an accessible price, with the opportunity to be as involved as you want to be. It’s also easy to cancel right in your online account if you change your mind as opposed to calling or emailing customer service.

If you use Naked as a casual wine drinker, you’ll discover great and affordable wines (even if you don’t take advantage of the $100 off coupon) through an interesting system that makes you feel more involved than just ordering another case of wine online.

Get $100 off your first Nakedwines.com order

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Vinebox is an affordable wine subscription that sends vials of wine instead of full-sized bottles – here’s how it works

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best wine club 2021 Vinebox

  • Vinebox is a quarterly wine subscription that sends you nine “glasses” of the world’s best wines for $79.
  • But instead of full bottles, you’ll get vials that hold about a glass of wine each that’s perfect for sampling.
  • It can be a good way to try different high-end wines you would otherwise never be able to afford.

Quarterly Wine Subscription (9 glasses) (small)

Finding out which wines you like can feel more like an accident than any sort of comprehensive, efficient effort. My own history more honestly resembles stumbling around in the dark – and asking my local wine shop experts for blind personal recommendations.

 

It’s exactly this obscurity that makes intelligent wine subscription services like Vinebox so uniquely appealing. Vinebox is a service that sends subscribers nine of the best wines in the world to taste – by the glass – once every three months for $79. Each glass comes out to about $9, which is along the lines of what you’d pay at a nice restaurant. 

While you might be used to this concept when it comes to bottles, it makes sense why Vinebox would send by the glass; the high-end wine selection would cost the average person a small fortune (and probably some plane rides), and trying only by the glass is a really low-risk commitment that encourages you to expand your palette. You’re able to try a variety of really diverse, premium wines for a fraction of the cost required for full bottles, and you won’t be stuck with a wine you hate if you take a chance sampling something more adventurous. If you love one, you can buy your own bottle.

How Vinebox works

  1. Order your first box: You don’t need to take a quiz or sign up for an account first. Just visit this page to view this quarter’s box and decide if the wine assortment sounds interesting.
  2. Taste the wines: Vinebox will send you nine 10 cL vials of wine every quarter and each holds a full glass worth of vino. They come nicely packaged in a sturdy box and with a booklet full of information like tasting notes and how to pronounce the names of each wine. You’ll get to suss out your favorite kinds of wine, learn more about the regions in and processes by which they’re made, and get the most out of the luxury wines sent to you.
  3. Discover favorites: If you love one glass more than most, you can buy a full-sized bottle, or Vinebox will make suggestions for a similar wine. Members also receive credits to buy full-sized bottles so you can save while finding and stocking up on your favorite wines. Quarterly members receive $15 in credits while yearly members receive $30. The credits expire at the end of each quarter.

Vinebox book

What the wines are like

Of more than 11,000 fine wines tested by Vinebox, only about 1% make the cut into your box. They’re not the same as your local wine store options (even the really nice ones) – you won’t find anything mass-produced here. Though Vinebox handles the bottling and distribution, all the wine is imported from various winemakers and vineyards in Europe. 

Quarterly releases are said to be the best wine of the moment – from old vintage cellar releases hitting their “sweet spot” to those that mesh perfectly with current wine trends (which you are now, by virtue of this subscription, apparently on top of). They’re curated by the company’s wine director and sommelier for delivery every three months. 

The company uses a closed-nitrogen environment to prevent the wines from ever coming in contact with oxygen. The use of inert gas allows the wines to “maintain their complete bouquet, flavor profile, and mouthfeel” throughout the process. Once they’re encapsulated in the vials, the wines are good for up to three years – though you’ll want to pour yourself a glass much sooner than that.

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Price of Vinebox

For a quick look at the membership: 

Subscription price: $72 to $79

Subscription frequency: Every 3 months 

Shipping fee: Free 

A la carte shop: Yes 

Vinebox only has a quarterly subscription and each box is $79. Delivery is always free, and you can cancel at any time. You can sign up here.

If you’d like to gift Vinebox, you can either buy an individual box of wines here or sign up the recipient for a six-month or one-year subscription. These are non-renewable payments so no one is surprised or stuck with an unwanted membership. 

The six-month plan comes with two boxes of wine and $15 credit towards full-sized bottles per quarter, totaling $158, or $79 per box. The one-year plan comes with four boxes of wine and $30 credit towards full-sized bottles per quarter, totaling $288, or $72 per box.

If your Vinebox gift is for two people instead of one, you can double the plans and save 10% off your price. That means the six-month plan for two comes out to $284.40 total and the one-year plan for two comes out to $518.40 total.

Review of Vinebox 

Vinebox’s latest collection for fall is called Back to the Classics. It’s an ode to the “classic” wines of regions like Tuscany, Italy and Burgundy, France and contains four reds, four whites, and one rosé. 

All the wines in this particular edition are light- and medium-bodied, so if those are up your alley, you’ll love the box. I enjoyed trying and sipping on all the wines, especially because I tend to be a casual, low-commitment drinker. I hate opening an entire bottle knowing I won’t be able to finish it in one night (or even a few nights), so I really appreciated Vinebox’s unique design. It’s also convenient because all the bottles have screwtops – no bottle opener or corkscrew necessary.  

In particular, I liked the Le Gabier Blanc, a medium-bodied Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon blend with notes of apple and peach, which felt appropriate for the transition from summer to fall. Unfortunately, Vinebox didn’t have a full-sized bottle but it had a similar one – a Godello wine. This was slightly disappointing and I haven’t yet bought the full-sized alternative. It turns out Vinebox didn’t have any of the exact same wines as the samplers for the box I tried, so it might be best not to fall too head over heels for a particular bottle. 

Other than the quarterly seasonal offering, Vinebox brought back a holiday favorite: 12 Nights of Wine (currently sold out), a fun take on the traditional advent calendar. This limited-edition box contains 12 bottles and comes in one of three beautiful holiday-themed packaging. Each of the slots is labeled by number, letting you work through the collection one day at a time.

12 nights Vinebox

The bottom line

If you’re looking for an affordable way to try premium wines, or you just want to stop wasting time and get smarter about wine or your own preferences, Vinebox is worth checking out.

The wines are delicious, and the service is convenient. There’s very little chance you’d have the power, money, or time to first become an expert sommelier and then test thousands of wines to pair them down to the perfect quarterly litmus test for yourself. This way, you get to maintain your life the way it is and still get to try the best wines of a high variety so you can get into a new hobby, impress dates, or just have less trouble ordering in restaurants.

Quarterly Wine Subscription (9 glasses) (button)

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