We live in an era when you can find a company to send you a box of just about anything, from snack foods to clothes to toys. Given the success of that business model, it’s no surprise that numerous online wine clubs exist. While having wine delivered to your front door sounds like the epitome of indulgence, it’s a bad idea, and here’s why.
You are necessarily choosing from wines made in large quantities. Most of these clubs either work with large brands, or buy pre-made wine and then repackage it. Neither of those things is necessarily bad, but the idea of finding the perfect wine for you feels a little less special when you realize that it’s also the perfect wine for 25,000 other people.
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Ok, but let’s say you take a quiz that promises to hone in on your specific wine tastes. Sadly, no algorithm that I’m aware of can handle wine recommendations with much accuracy. Have you taken one of the quizzes on the sites that use them? Shockingly, my coffee preference actually has very little to do with what flavors I enjoy in wine, and just because I like ripe fruit in fruit form doesn’t mean I want those flavors in my wine.
Other clubs lean on the knowledge and expertise of a specific person or small group, and while at least with those wines you might get smaller producers, you also have no way of knowing what kind of side arrangement they might have with the winery. Are they recommending that wine to you because it’s the right wine for you, or because they get a commission on each bottle?
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The biggest reason I’m against online clubs is because you lose your agency. When wine shows up at your door in pre-allotted intervals, in arrangements that you can’t dictate, you’ve ceded your decision-making, and not to a professional in a store or restaurant who can explain their choice, but to some app with a vaguely wine-related name. You might be ok letting Silicon Valley choose your jewelry or underwear or whatever, but keep them the hell away from your wine.
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