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.


Read 57 Club W Customer Reviews and Complaints

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Average Consumer Rating: 2.2
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 10 4 star: 5 3 star: 2 2 star: 7 1 star:  33
Bottom Line: 28% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 57
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  • 8 out 11 people found this review helpful

    They make it really hard to cancel the 'membership'

    • New York,
    • Nov 16, 2014

    Tried several times to cancel the monthly charges. No link to cancel. They say the only way to cancel is to go on email chat but it's a blind link! You literally have to call to cancel. They're only open on California time. Totally bogus to make you work that hard to cancel. I wouldn't recommend this.

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

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  • 4 out 5 people found this review helpful

    Not worth the money or hassle

    • NC,
    • Feb 1, 2015

    Ordered one box of wine. It was decent, but not worth the cost. I have several nice, local wine shops near my house that have better wine and lower prices.

    It's difficult to cancel. I called and was on hold for 10 minutes before I talked to a person. Of course they asked why I was quitting and I told them I no longer drink (good way to avoid them trying to convince you to stay). I guess he didn't have much to say after that. He canceled my account, then asked if I need anything else. I said, "no, but thank you so much" and he hung up immediately. Not professional and downright rude.

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

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  • 6 out 9 people found this review helpful

    TOTAL RIP OFF

    • Dallas,
    • Feb 15, 2015

    Place an order with this company and they will automatically sign you up for monthly boxes at $45 each, which you can only cancel by phone. There is no warning that they are going to do this. And the wine isn't even good. This company is a COMPLETE SCAM! Stay away. Don't even sign up.

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

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  • 6 out 8 people found this review helpful

    Same review as others

    • Feb 19, 2015

    I didn't know (since they don't inform you) that you are signing up for a monthly service upon the first order. I just wanted to try to see if I liked it, next I know, I'm getting a notice that my card is being charged. Pain in the butt to cancel account as well. Total waste.

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

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  • 6 out 10 people found this review helpful

    Scam

    • Boston, MA,
    • Mar 7, 2015

    Same as other reviews, I purchased the first time to try and there was no notice at all letting me know about the auto enrollment for monthly shipping. I could not cancel online and needed to call in order to do so instead. I hate the experience! It's just a scam!

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

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  • 8 out 11 people found this review helpful

    Feels like a scam

    • Seattle, WA,
    • Mar 13, 2015

    I ordered a box to try the service. It turns out I automatically got subscribed to receive monthly boxes. There is no way to stop this on their websites and the person on chat said she couldn't do it either and that I need to call. Sounds like they're working on making it as hard as possible for people to opt out.

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

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  • 8 out 12 people found this review helpful

    Low quality wine and poor customer service

    A friend recommended this service, so I gave it a try. The wines were low quality with very simple flavor profiles and extremely short finishes. If you're looking for something cheap that doesn't taste bad, this is a good choice, but if you like wine, don't bother.

    More annoying was that cancellation was difficult. They don't have any way to cancel on the site, nor via email, nor by calling them unless you call during business hours in their time zone. I was also charged a cancellation fee, which I always consider to be the sign of a less reputable vendor.

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

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  • 5 out 8 people found this review helpful

    Bad web experience and difficult to cancel

    • Jul 20, 2015

    It's not very apparent that you will be joining a monthly subscription. Cancellation is only possible by phone which is extremely difficult for my situation and they refused to accommodate my request by email.

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

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  • 8 out 12 people found this review helpful

    Absolutely a scam

    • Jul 22, 2015

    They make it impossible to delete your account. They charge you $50 a month unless you specifically respond to their email saying no. I have been trying to stop this for months. They absolutely do not give refunds and there is no way to make it stop. They should be sued into bankruptcy. Again there is no way to delete your account, they do not allow you to stop and continually charge you. Do not use this service.

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

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  • 6 out 10 people found this review helpful

    Scam!

    • Aug 8, 2015

    Any website that wont let you cancel online is a total scam. Club W is not only a pain in the butt, I had to file a dispute to get my money back on wine that they got back - since Fedex won't deliver when you're not home.

    Total scam. No place to cancel. Give them false credit card info and they can't charge you anymore. If they store your old info, they are out of PCI compliance and you can report them for that.

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

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  • 9 out 12 people found this review helpful

    Irritating business practices

    • Aug 14, 2015

    I received a gift to Club W, which sounded like a fun way to try a few new wines. I ended up paying an extra $1.60 over the gift amount once tax and shipping were added, but I didn't think this was a big deal.

    Wong. By entering my payment info I was automatically signing up for monthly shipments that cannot be canceled without calling during limited business hours. What had been a generally pleasant experience (nice site design, ok wines) has turned into a pain in the butt. I definitely would not recommend this site to anyone else, as a gift or otherwise.

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

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