About Club W

Picking a good wine can be stressful.

Most people are concerned about price, so that’s the first filter we usually apply. Is it under $10? Deal.

But once you’ve got your wine budget in place, you’re still left with dozens of choices under the general umbrella of “wines under $10”:

  • Red or white?
  • Old World (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, etc.) or New World (U.S.A., Australia, South Africa, etc.)?
  • If you go red, should it be a pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, merlot or something weird-sounding like grenache or beaujolais?
  • If white’s your fancy, how do you pick between chardonnay, pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc or sparkling wines like Champagne?
  • How the heck do you know what it tastes like?

These types of grocery-aisle, deer-in-the-headlights moments are what wine-subscription service Club W claims to solve.

By taking a quick quiz about your taste preferences, they curate a custom trio of wines that fit your flavor profile. You can choose bottles from these suggestions or pick your own.

Once you sign up and pay for your first box of wine, they send you three new bottles every month, unless you want to add more (a fourth bottle gets you free shipping and the fifth bottle gets you 10 percent off the entire order).

Sounds like a breeze, right? Just do a quiz, then Club W does the rest. But what are the prices like and how do they compare to the average bottle of wine? How do you know how good the wines are? What’s the actual wine delivery process like? How easy is it to opt out of their subscription service?

We were curious about each of these questions, so we tried out Club W for one month, taking advantage of a Memorial Day special in which we got 50% off our order.

As we work through this article, we’ll answer each of the questions we posed and give you our perspective on Club W.

What’s the Wine Delivery Process Like?

Club W notifies you by email when your wine has shipped, quoting a 3 to 7-day delivery time. Since the shipment contains alcohol, someone 21 years or older has to sign for delivery.

Our box came within the delivery window. We opened it to find four bottles of wine packaged neatly, along with four information cards to correspond to each bottle of wine we bought:

  • 2015 Sauvetage Rosé (France)
  • 2014 Pas Ordinaire Saint-Chinian blend (France)
  • 2015 WKND Sparkling Chenin Blanc (California)
  • 2014 Sapore Locale Nero D’Avola (Italy)

Each of these wines cost $13 a piece, the price at which you can buy most of the stuff on the site. There were a couple of wines above $30, but the majority were $13 and several were between $15 and $30. The majority of wines sold in the United States cost under $10, so $13 puts Club W’s wines in the mid-range price category.

We think that Club W does a great job of branding their wines. We enjoyed the information cards, which included:

  • The story behind the wine (where, how and who made it).
  • A flavor profile of the wine that takes into account body and flavors (earth, wood, fruit).
  • A recipe that goes well with the wine.

In our opinion, these information cards are a great resource for newcomers to wine who want a service that picks wines for them, educates them and integrates the wine with a fitting recipe.

How Do You Know How Good the Wines Are?

Because Club W is a wine service charging you a little more than you’d probably pay for other wines at the supermarket, it’s important to know if you’re getting wine that’s worth the few extra dollars.

And herein is the great mystery of Club W, for several reasons.

It’s Hard to Tell: Club W’s Wines Are Exclusive

The wines you get from Club W can’t be found anywhere else. A wine distributor named Winc runs Club W’s wine selection, and the wines they select are exclusively distributed through Club W. That’s great for the winemakers – there’s a constant stream of business from Club W’s customers.

But that’s not so great for you, and here’s why. The only way you can get reviews about Club W’s wines is through the Club W website because the wines aren’t sold anywhere else. You’re kind of stuck with the opinions of fellow customers of Club W and not the wine world in general – you remain in the Club W universe.

And, as we’ve pointed out in a past article about “confirmation bias”, if you’re dazzled by the info cards and the cool labels Club W’s wines tend to have, you might just perceive the wine as tasting better than it actually is.

But the whole discussion about how a wine tastes and how good it is brings up another issue: the average person has a hard time distinguishing between good wine and bad wine.

Expensive Wine or Cheap Wine? Consumers Don’t Really Know

There have been many studies about the taste of wine, the most interesting of which have tried to show that how a wine tastes to us has little to do with how it actually tastes.

A 2011 article from The Atlantic covers a couple of these studies. Here’s an overview of what each study discovered, as well as a couple of other articles we found on the subject:

  • 2001, University of Bordeaux: 54 oenology students (people studying wine as a profession) drank a white wine and the same wine dyed red. They were asked to write down tasting notes. Very few students realized the red wine was actually a white wine.
  • 2008, Cal Tech University: Researchers asked wine experts to taste wines at five different price points ranging from $5 to $90. Turns out the experts liked the more expensive wines the most, even though the $90 and the $10 were the same wine. Pricing, the researchers concluded, is a huge influence in how we think a wine tastes.
  • 2013, Huffington Post: Staff members tried cheap and expensive bottles of red and white wine. Tasters had a hard time telling the difference between the two.
  • 2012, Forbes: Writer Katie Bell talked about cheap and expensive wines, and pointed out that the wife of a notorious wine snob had her husband and his pals taste a bottle of wine that contained leftovers of unfinished wine from previous tastings. They couldn’t tell the difference, she said.

How Does This Relate to Club W?

So what does all this mean for us, the average people who want a fun wine experience through Club W? We probably won’t be able to tell how good the wine is, and since the wines are exclusive to Winc, there’s no way of knowing how good they really are because no other websites have reviews of the wine.

Also, there’s no way of knowing if we’re overpaying or underpaying for the wine since there’s no way to compare the price of the wine.

And on top of that, our perception of a wine’s taste and quality has a lot to do with price and packaging. So, there’s a good chance, as we mentioned before, that we’ll think the wine is great because it’s a bit more expensive and it comes with interesting information cards.

Our opinion? There’s no way of knowing how good the wines are, as perceptions of taste are influenced by a lot more than the wine. Are you getting a great deal on interesting wines you can’t get anywhere else, or are you overpaying for average wines dressed up with good marketing? It’s really tough for us to say.

How Easy Is It to Opt Out of Club W’s Auto-Shipments?

At HighYa, we get pretty worked up when someone mentions auto-ship programs because they’re a tactic that shady companies use to trick you into paying tons of money for shipments you never knew you were getting.

Fortunately, Club W isn’t one of those companies. They’re up-front about the fact that they’ll auto-ship more product each month after you sign up, whereas many auto-ship companies bury that fact deep in their terms and conditions.

Cancelling Your Account Can Only Be Done Over the Phone

We wanted to know how easy it was to cancel, so we called the Club W number. Turns out their representatives are very pleasant and cancelling takes all of 30 seconds. There were no hidden fees or lingering charges on our credit card.

Also, we liked that Club W lets you skip a month of shipments simply by logging into your Club W account and one-clicking a skip button.

What Happens if You Don’t Like the Wine You Get?

Club W’s website says they’ll refund you the cost of the bottle of wine you didn’t like; it’s part of their satisfaction guarantee.

We talked with one of Club W’s “Concierge” representatives, who told us that they’ll give you a credit for up to two bottles of wine in your shipment. After four requests for a credit, you’ll be transferred to one of Club W’s sommeliers, who will talk with you about your taste profile and try and help you find what you’re looking for.

Club W’s refund policy is a bit different. Let’s say you forgot to cancel or pause your membership, and you didn’t see the shipping notice Club W sends out 48 hours before your wine ships. If the shipment is already out and you want to return it, you’ll pay a $20 restocking fee.

Our advice is to keep in mind that wine you get through a subscription service is always a gamble. You never know if a bottle will meet your expectations, whether it fits your flavor profile or not. And keep an eye on your shipment notices. If your new batch of wine is sent out and you don’t want it, you’ll pay a pretty steep price.

Club W Reviews: What are Other People Saying

This is the second review we’ve done on Club W, mainly because the company has changed a lot over the past few years and we felt we needed to update what we previously wrote about the company.

That being said, 40 HighYa reviewers gave Club W an average review of 2.2 stars, with people complaining about customer service and the quality of the wines. The 11 most recent reviews date back to Nov. 2015. Six of those reviews are one or two stars, while five of them are four or five stars.

More than 800 reviewers on specialty food and beverage review site Influenster gave Club W an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars, with customers praising the quality of the wines and the label designs.

Readers on product-review site Revuezzle gave the service a 2.2 out of 10, giving Club W low marks for wine quality and customer service.

A 2015 article by foodie website Eater said, when compared to other wine-subscription services, Club W was a “solid choice at a pretty decent price.”

Last Call: Our Conclusions About Club W

The Club W experience is pretty fluid and simple. Do a quick survey about your taste profile, see some recommended wines and sign up for your membership.

The delivery process is painless and the wine shipment includes great information about where the wine came from, how it was made and how it tastes. The recipe on the back of the card is a nice perk, too.

But when it comes to knowing if the wine is worth the money you’re spending on it, it’s really hard to tell. Studies show that our perception of how a wine tastes is influenced by price, packaging and other factors.

We suggest you keep an open mind if you join Club W. Realize that you might receive wines you don’t like. However, each wine you do receive comes with a unique story and the opportunity to try a wine that, most likely, none of your friends or family have ever tried before.

If you’re an adventurous wine drinker and you want a way to try unique wines from all around the world, Club W is probably a great fit.

If you like to stick with your favorites and are skeptical of wines outside what you’d normally drink, Club W may not be a good choice for you.

Overall, though, we think Club W is one of the more reliable and enjoyable subscription/auto-ship services we’ve seen. Their wine shipments are a great idea for gifts and provide you a chance to taste interesting wines you may not normally have thought about trying.

If you aren’t sold on the idea of Club W’s service, Firstleaf, Bright Cellars and Tasting Room are similar companies offering monthly shipments of wine.

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49 Customer Reviews for Club W

Average Customer Rating: 2.2
Rating Snapshot:
5 stars: 9 4 stars: 5 3 stars: 1 2 stars: 7 1 stars: 27
Bottom Line: 29% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 49
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  • 0 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Shady Business Practices - Scam Alert

    • Atlanta, GA,
    • Oct 24, 2016

    Whatever you do, DO NOT sign up for this company's monthly wine subscription. If you don't login to your account each month to check your "box" - where they automatically add wines to be shipped to you every month - or if you forget to skip a month's shipment, you will automatically be shipped wines you don't want and be stuck with the bill.

    Then when you call customer service to initiate a return, they won't provide you a return label unless the order was for six or more bottles of wine. And then they will charge you a $20 restocking fee - for wines you DIDN'T want, AND that you had to pay out of pocket to ship back!

    Each time I have had to send a return to them, they DID NOT automatically process my refund. I had to call and demand that it be processed - almost a month later to the day in the most recent incident!

    So let's review - you'll be sent wine you don't want, forced to pay return shipping, and then charged a restocking fee, AND you will wait an indefinite amount of time to see ONLY A PORTION of your money back. In other words, you will pay 50% of what they originally billed you just to return wine you didn't want! So basically they steal from their customers when you are ALREADY unhappy with their service.

    Absolute garbage. Horrible customer service policies. I canceled my account and will never go back.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • What a scam

    • California,
    • Oct 15, 2016

    Disclaimer: I'm a snob, a little. I live next door to Sonoma and my local grocery is a Whole Foods so I get to drink nice wine.

    But honestly, all of the Club W wines taste the same. And they're not great. Not bad, but not good by any means.

    The really bad marks, however, are for their customer service. Total scam. They say you can cancel by phone or by live chat. None of the live chat links on their site work. Their support articles also cite "live chat buttons" — which do not exist. The phone is not an option for hearing impaired customers.

    When you submit a support ticket, you get no confirmation that it was submitted successfully.

    Great job, asshats. Still waiting for them to return my money since they sure can't give me the time I've wasted back.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • I will never order from them again

    I had a Club W membership. At first I thought it was pretty cool and there was no commitment as they would send you an email before shipping to give you the option to skip the month. Well this month that email never came and the only email I got was that they were shipping 10 bottles to me. Since I never got that email I was never able to adjust my order (not only did I not want 10 bottles but they were all bottles that I did not like).

    I tried contacting customer service and they said there was nothing they could do. They said they always send the email prior to shipping and I expressed my concern that I did not receive that email. I even checked my spam and junk folder and it wasn't even there. Their wines are not even good quality and their customer service is even worse. Never order from them! They are not worth it. You can get better bottles from the liquor store for less money with less hassle and inconveniences.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Bad service

    This the worst service and they charge your card for their mistakes. They send an email that they are willing to help, but it's useless. Then you can't cancel the subscription without their permission.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Impossible to cancel

    • Cleveland, OH,
    • Aug 13, 2016

    Once you sign in it will be impossible to unsubscribe. I did chat with them and they said that my account will be canceled. After a moth I still can log in and still see my "monthly experience" that is ready to be shipped using my credit card. I'm going to sue the company. NEVER ever try to use this club. Stay away.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Not an Honest Company

    I placed an order from a gift cert I received for fathers day. They placed me on the "club" monthly order without my consent. When I sent an email cancelling the "membership", they responded 2 times that I couldn't do it on line but had to call. So there would be no record of canceled "service". I called my credit card to cancel the "membership". By the way, the wine is not a quality product.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 2 out 3 people found this review helpful

    It's not rocket science folks – It's WINE.

    • Phoenix, AZ,
    • Jul 26, 2016

    This is CLEARLY a monthly wine subscription. I've been a member for years with only minor complaints. The wines I receive are great. My wife really enjoys the whites, and I like the reds, especially the Malbecs from Argentina and ANYTHING they send from Spain has been terrific. I've gotten some bad wines, but I expect some good and some bad from an adventurous wine club.

    My mother LIVES in Napa so I know and drink great wine all day long. If you want snob wine, this is not for you. If you want a fun experience with above average (and some great) wines... give them a try.

    I had one issue where the wine arrived very warm (in Phoenix) and had to send the wine back. That problem has been fixed.

    I don't know if it's hard to cancel as I don't plan to! But all my interactions with customer service have been pleasant and they fixed anything I needed with a smile.

    Overall Club W is something I plan on staying with for a long time and I recommend it to people all the time.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 2 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Excellent wine adventure

    • New York,
    • Jul 4, 2016

    I have been a Club W member for almost a year, and have so far enjoyed the experience immensely. It's like Christmas each month, when my delivery arrives.

    Although I have been a wine drinker for many years, my palate and discernment of what works for me has grown exponentially since joining Club W. Therein lies the real value of Club W.

    As a result, within a few short months I decided to become a premier member so as to benefit from even deeper discounts and added benefits. This has reduced my per-bottle price. I usually select one or two of their specific recommendations for me, and I include one or two from the other wines listed, increasing my level of experimentation and surprise. So far, it has been way more "hit" than "miss". I had a couple of bottles that I did not like, but overall, the quality of their wines has been above average, as compared with prior wines I have experienced in that same price range or even higher priced in some instances.

    That said, there are a couple of things that I would strongly suggest the company do to improve the Club W experience. First, the wines that are offered are limited in quantity and time period, so if you fall in love with a particular wine, there's a good chance it might not be available any longer once you decide to reorder it. This has happened to me several times. Secondly, I would like to see more variety in their overall selection options.

    Club W's value is in helping the wine enthusiast hone and deepen their personal taste preferences without the hit-or-miss aspect of local wine stores and wine store salespeople's recommendations. At least I know that the vast majority of wines I receive will be of very good quality, and that, should I object to a particular wine, they will take care of me with an account credit. I don't know of any wine store that does that. Yes, I can opt to try wines reviewed in wine magazines, but it has been fun receiving my regular shipments and varieties.

    Skipping shipments has not been a problem whatsoever either. I have even been provided with a free Club W sommelier phone consultation to ask any wine questions I had, It was very educational, informative and pleasant.

    I take a little bit of issue with Highya's review comments that suggests the wine labels and pricing are what influence one's opinions. While that may be initially true, the ongoing process of sampling a wide variety of wines over time, soon develops into a discernment of what a good wine should taste like, regardless of price and labeling. That has been the case with my own experience. My husband and I have both become more adept at identifying the nuances of what makes a wine taste good, at least for us! We will eventually expand to other wine sources to broaden our choices, but so far so good.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 0 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Great Choice

    I started with a Groupon Coupon at a great price for 15 bottles of wine. Yes, it was a deal but I did not care for all the wines received. From there I looked for a wine club and settled on Club W. Yes, I am paying more for 4 bottles of wine and free shipping. However, I have enjoyed the wines recommended as a result of the survey I took when I joined. There are ways to save which is nice, but for me it is more about enjoying a wine at a reasonable price. I am sorry though that a wine that I did enjoy was no longer available. However, it forced me to try another new one that I liked even better.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Okay, but worth the effort?

    I have been a member for several months now and have found the quality of the wines to be okay, but not great. I believe I can find very comparable (maybe even better) quality of wine at my local HEB. The big thing for everyone is value. I can take my $45 and get a really good selection at my stores. No shipping and handling. The other side of that is convenience. Buying from Club W saves you time. Things all to consider.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 6 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Not worth the money

    I am a big fan of wines and of trying new wines, so when I found out about Club W I thought that it would be a great thing to try because it would allow me to try all kinds of different wines and also potentially be cheaper than buying wine at my local grocery store. While both of these are true (to some extent), I was actually very disappointed with this service.

    The wines I received in my first order were not at all too my taste. They were very acidic and not at all sweet (which I prefer). I tried to cancel my subscription after this first shipment, but after talking to a "concierge" who recommended specific wines that would be more to my taste and provided me with a full refund credited to my account for my first three bottles, I was convinced to continue my transcription.

    I proceeded to order six more bottles which were recommended to me by the "concierge" that I had spoken to. I have been incredibly disappointed with the wines that I received. Though they have been on the "sweeter" and "lighter", I have found that they either do not taste of anything (to quote my boyfriend: "like vaguely alcoholic water"), have a terrible aftertaste, or have a terrible smell.

    After giving them a second chance and being incredibly unsatisfied with the wine that I received (honestly, I am pretty sure I have had better wine out of a box) I decided to cancel my subscription.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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