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18 March 2021

Wine clubs compared

Should you join The Times Wine Club, Majestic Wine Club, or one of the many others? We compare eight popular wine clubs
Matthew Knight

The popularity of wine delivery services soared during 2020 when people were just as worried about being able to buy wine as they were about stockpiling pasta and loo roll. 

One way to get your wine fix is to join a wine club. 

If you're considering joining a wine club, or curious about what you could get if you changed wine clubs, our handy guide helps you compare the most popular ones on price, introductory offers, free delivery and more.

We’ve also summarised the views of members of each of these clubs, based on a survey of 563 wine club members in January 2021, when we asked them what they liked and disliked about the wine clubs they had used.

Why join a wine club?

  • As well as a convenient way to get wine delivered to your doorstep, joining a wine club could also help you discover styles of wine you might not otherwise dare to try. 
  • All wine clubs will cover your usual Argentinian Malbec and New Zealand Sauvignon, but a mixed case or a mouth-watering recommendation might send you on a delicious detour to something similar but different.
  • Most wine clubs provide informative and entertaining literature on the side, as well as on and offline tastings.
  • Most don't have a joining fee. Those that do include the Wine Association which has a £40 one off membership fee, or Naked Wines which takes a monthly £20 payment which tops up in your account until a point you decide to spend it on wine.  
  • All clubs will deliver for free, but the amount you have to order to trigger this benefit varies by club.
  • If you're not wedded to a particular one, it pays to shop around and try a few different clubs. Introductory offers can save you lots of cash on your first order, and some of the joining gifts are quite appealing. 
  • Nearly all wine clubs offer a 100% money back guarantee on wines you don't like.

How top wine clubs compare

Below we've compared the UK's major wine club brands on the cost of membership, introductory offers, free delivery, how to cancel and any noteworthy extras. 

The wine clubs are listed alphabetically. 

Avery's

Sign up at: Averys.com

Avery's has been a wine merchant since 1793 and in the same family since. 

There's no joining fee to become a member of one of its wine clubs (also called Wine Plans), and you can order wine from Avery's on an ad-hoc basis without joining one of its clubs. 

You'll have to order more than £200 of wine to be eligible for free delivery.

Avery's also has three different wine clubs/plans to choose from; Signature Collection, Claret Club or the Cellar collection. The three choices range in price from £110 for a box of 12 for the most basic, up to £165 for a box of six at the top end. Each wine plan delivers every 12 weeks at a cost of £8 per delivery.

Cost of membership: No fee to join.

Introductory offer: If you sign up to one of the wine plans the first box comes with a discount (for the basic plan £83.88, compared with the ongoing price of £109.99).

Other wine boxes also come with wine gifts, such as decanters.

Delivery: Free delivery on orders of more than £200.

How do I cancel? You can change or cancel an Avery's delivery, or leave one of its wine plans, by calling its customer service helpline on 03330 148 208.

Is there anything else I should know? Avery's parent company is Direct Wines Ltd, which also owns The Sunday Times Wine Club and Laithwaites. But each of them stocks a different list of wines.

Avery's members say

Most respondents mentioned the quality of Avery's wine selection.

Here’s an example of what people told us: ‘Generally excellent tasting wines at reasonable prices. You also get impressions of a personal touch from a good customer help desk and fast and efficient deliveries.’

There was one negative mention that delivery charges on some orders can seem quite high.

Daily Mail Wine Club

Sign up at: Mailwineclub.co.uk

The Daily Mail wine club operates in association with its parent company, Virgin Wines. 

There's no fee to join The Daily Mail wine club, and you can use the site to simply order boxes of wine as you go. But joining its wine club will entitle you to specially selected boxes from the Daily Mail wine expert, Matthew Jukes.

Cost of membership: No fee to join.

Introductory offer: There is no standard introductory offer, but many of its wine boxes come with free gifts, such as a swan-neck decanter.

Delivery: Free delivery on orders over £150.

How do I cancel? You can change or cancel an order, or leave one of the Daily Mail wine plans by emailing help@mailwineclub.co.uk, or phoning the customer service centre on 03432241015.

Is there anything else I should know? Virgin Wines is the Daily Mail Wine Club's parent company, but the selection of wines on offer at each is different.

Daily Mail Wine Club members say

We hardly received any comments about the Daily Mail Wine Club. But one respondent said the club has, ‘reasonably priced wines from a fairly static listing. It has many good reliable wines, particularly wines from Australia.' 

One respondent bemoaned the discontinuation of an old online auction feature, which used to present some wine bargains.

Laithwaites

Sign up at: Laithwaites.co.uk

With Laithwaites you can order wine as you go, or join one of its wine clubs, some of which require a fee to join. 

Its Premier wine club has a £50 joining fee, but that entitles you to two extra bottles with every order, and access to Laithwaites Premiere wine selection. 

Its introductory wine plan has no joining fee, and a better than half price offer on your first order.

Cost of membership: It costs £50 to join its Premiere club, but there is no joining fee on its basic wine club packages.

Introductory offer: Introductory offers vary depending on the box of wine you buy. You can get more than half price off your first order, and four Dartington Crystal glasses when you join its lowest tier wine club. 

Other offers include £40 off your first order of 12 bottles or more.

Delivery: Free delivery when you order more than 18 bottles.

How do I cancel? You can call the customer service team on 03330 148 168 to cancel, or change an order.

Anything else I need to know? Laithwaites has a chain of stores across the country so you can go and see, taste, and select some of the wines yourself. 

Laithwaites' parent company is Direct Wines Ltd, which also owns The Sunday Times Wine Club and Avery's. But each of them stocks a different list of wines.

Laithwaites members say

Laithwaites is clearly a popular choice with respondents of our survey, with 137 positive comments collected. Most people were commenting on the vast selection and quality of the wines on offer.

Here's an example from one survey respondent: 'A fantastic choice of great quality wine from all over the world. Customer service is first class and I could not speak more highly of the way I have been treated over the years. Delivery is prompt with a money back guarantee.'

A common complaint however is the, 'continual bombardment of advertising pamphlets and emails'. But according to our survey, Laithwaites isn’t the only wine club that falls into this trap.

Majestic Wine

Sign up at: Majestic.co.uk

Majestic has three different wine clubs, as well as its national chain of stores where you can talk to an expert and see and sample wines yourself. Unfortunately at the time of writing they are closed to new members. However, you can still select and order wine from Majestic on an ad-hoc basis, and it offers free delivery on any order of more than six bottles.

Cost of membership: No fee.

Introductory offer: No introductory offer and its wine clubs are currently closed to new members.

Delivery: Free delivery when you order more than six bottles.

How do I cancel? You can call the customer service team on 0345 605 6767 to cancel, or change an order.

Majestic Wine members say

Most respondents were positive about Majestic, with the ability to click and collect orders from Majestic stores proving popular. 

One respondent said: 'The selection always offers wines I would otherwise not have purchased and, on each occasion, there is at least one very welcome surprise. 

'The wines are good quality, cheaper than I could otherwise buy them. The service is excellent and, on the two occasions we have not enjoyed a particular bottle, they have been exchanged helpfully and without question.'

Naked Wines

Sign up at: Nakedwines.com

Naked Wines describes itself as a ‘customer-funded wine business’, with an increasingly popular scheme, Wine Angels. ‘

Angels’ sign up to pay £20 per month (which tots up in your account until you decide to spend it on wine), for which they get discounts of up to 33% off list price, a free bottle every month if you order a case of 12, and exclusive tastings. 

Naked puts the £20 fees into funding winemakers (often young ones) to enable them to make wines that are then sold to Naked. This means that the Naked wines are unavailable elsewhere, and customers can feel a real connection to winemakers. 

Delivery is £4.99, or free for orders over £100.

Cost of membership: There is no fee as such, but Naked Wines does take monthly £20 payments which tot up in your account.

Introductory offer: £30 off your first order.

Delivery: Free for orders over £100.

How do I cancel? You can live chat on the website, email at help@nakedwines.com or call on 01603 281869.

Is there anything else I should know? Once you sign up, you'll be referred to in all communications as an 'Angel', which depending on your point of view, is possibly worth the monthly subscription on its own. 

Naked Wines members say

The sheer number of positive comments (209) reveals Naked Wines as a real Which? member favourite. The subscription model, which allows you to build up money in your account is popular, as is the Naked Wines mission statement to support smaller growers.

Here's an example of what members told us: 'Paying in £20 each month works really well for me.  It isn't a huge amount and yet it builds up so you can suddenly order a case without seeming like you’re spending any money.  And they have some good freebies every now and then.'

There aren’t too many negatives according to those we surveyed, but the marketing, and being referred to as an 'Angel', does divide opinion.

The Sunday Times Wine Club

Sign up at: Sundaytimeswineclub.co.uk

The Sunday Times Wine Club was started nearly 50 years ago by Tony Laithwaite, and his family still own it. It has subsidiaries in the USA, Australia and several other countries. 

Delivery is free on orders over 18 bottles. 

Its most exclusive wine club, Charter Plus, costs £50 to join and is currently accepting new members, one of its perks is that you get two free bottles with every order of 12 bottles or more. But there are other wine clubs that are less expensive, or even free to join. 

Cost of membership: Some of its more exclusive wine clubs have a joining fee (up to £50), but otherwise, it's free.

Introductory offer: New members get £40 off their first order and free delivery. Depending on the first box you order, you're also very likely to get some free Dartington Crystal glasses.

Delivery: Free on orders of 18 bottles or more.

How do I cancel? You can call the customer service team on 03330 142 776 cancel, or change an order.

Is there anything else I should know? The Sunday Times Wine Club's parent company is Direct Wines Ltd, which also owns Laithwaites and Avery's. But each of them stocks a different list of wines.

The Sunday Times Wine Club members say

Positive comments we received tended to focus on the quality and availability of the wine.

One member said: 'A good selection of wines and they are generally available on re-order. This was not the case with Naked Wines, with whom I was also a member, so I have recently left them. The service is also really good and reliable and the offers are occasionally attractive.'

We didn’t receive too many negative comments, other than perhaps this club being another that tends to be a bit heavy on the distribution of unwanted marketing material.

The Wine Society

Sign up at: Thewinesociety.com

The Wine Society is the oldest wine club in the UK, established in 1874. It’s a cooperative, owned by its members, based in Stevenage. 

The entrance fee is £40, but you get £20 off your first order. There's no annual subscription. 

The wine list is huge, from £5.95 to really expensive bottles. 

Delivery is free anywhere in the UK for orders of 12 bottles, or more than £75. The Wine Society has various 'basic' Wine Plans, varying in price from £85 up to £149 for a case of 12. But you can also pay an additional monthly subscription (up to £100 a month) to gain access to the Wine Society's really exclusive stuff.

Cost of membership: £40 one-off payment for lifelong membership. You can't order wine from the Wine Society without being a member.

Introductory offer: You get £20 off your first order.

Delivery: Free delivery on orders over £75 or larger than 12 bottles.

How do I cancel? You can call on 01438 741177 Monday to Saturday, 9am - 6pm 

Is there anything else I should know?  Its vast storage facility in Stevenage means it can store wine you have bought (for a fee) if it’s not ready to drink. 

The Wine Society members say

The Wine Society is another wine club that sees praise gushing from its members lips, and very little in the way of criticism. 

One respondent to our survey told us The Wine Society has a, 'fabulous choice of wines at all price levels. Superb service, very informative tasting notes and a no quibble exchange if you don’t like the wine. There is nothing not to like.'

Virgin Wines

Sign up at: Virginwines.co.uk

Virgin Wines has three wine clubs, Discovery Wine Club, justREDS and WineBank. 

Similar to Naked Wines, subscribers pay from £15 to £100 into an account each month and can order wine when they have enough money deposited. For each £5 deposited, Virgin will add another £1. Members can vary the amount they deposit, or stop altogether and get their money back with no penalty. 

Delivery is £7.99, with no charge for orders of £150 or more. 

Cost of membership: Club subscribers pay anything between £15 and £100 every month into their accounts.

Introductory offer: You get £40 off your first order.

Delivery: Delivery is free on orders over £150.

How do I cancel? You can call the customer service centre on 0342 224 1001, or email at help@virginwines.co.uk.

Is there anything else I should know? Virgin Wines also operates the Mail Wine Club, but the wines it lists are different.

Virgin Wines members say

The additional monthly interest members receive in their accounts is very popular, as is the wine selection.

'Interesting selection of wines... we have never been disappointed. The banked interest is a nice perk, as is the free delivery.'

What is the cheapest wine club?

In truth, all wine clubs will cater for your budget. There isn't a wine club listed above that doesn't offer bottles from as little as £6, just like you'd get in any supermarket.

But while the price of wines in your local supermarket might range between £6 - £25, wine clubs will give you access to bottles that cater for any budget, even offering access to wines that cost £60 or more per bottle. 

If you're after wine bargains, it can often pay to try a few different clubs and take advantage of their very generous introductory offers. Offers of £30 or £40 off your first box are easy to find. Other tempting introductory offers include fancy Dartington Crystal wine glasses, or wine accessories like decanters.

How do I cancel a wine subscription?

It's almost never possible to cancel a wine subscription online, through your 'My account'. Depending on the wine club you join, you'll either have to correspond via email, or talk to a customer service representative on the phone. 

See which number to call on our summaries of each wine delivery service, above.

How to order wine online

You can order wine online at every major supermarket. Some supermarkets, such as M&S and Waitrose have even started their own wine clubs. You can shop at M&S Wine Club and Waitrose Cellar and you'll find pre-selected mixed cases that have been chosen by a wine expert. But neither supermarket offers the type of regular wine plans that you can find in the specialist wine delivery services listed above.

You may have also heard of Aldi Wine Club, but it's not a wine club in the traditional sense. Instead, it's a 30 strong panel of so called 'wine experts' that it recruits every month to taste and review specially selected Aldi wines. You can apply to join the panel if you wish, and you'll be sent three free bottles of wine. But that's in exchange for a review and asking you to tweet about it.

Specialist wine clubs tend to provide more supporting literature with their wines than wine delivery services offered by supermarkets, so you can learn more about different wines. They'll also allow you to customise your orders, sometimes through clever algorithms, so you get more of the wine you like. Specialist clubs will also tend to stock higher priced bottles than most supermarkets.

How to buy from a wine club

Here are some tips from wine expert, Charles Metcalfe on how to make the most of a wine club membership. 

  • Buy a familiar wine style to start with. Is it better than the wine you would usually buy? If it isn’t, go no further. If it is, experiment with different styles.
  • Don’t get tied into a long-term relationship with a club whose wines you don’t enjoy. Most allow immediate termination and refund. 
  • See what tastings and other events the club offers. 
  • Check wine prices by using a price-finding app such as Wine-Searcher or Vivino.
  • Check delivery charges. If you live on, say, a Scottish island, some wine clubs will charge no more than if you live in Birmingham.
  • Expect to pay a bit more for wines from wine clubs. They provide tasting notes and information, and may organise tastings for members, free or not. It's up to you to decide whether these benefits are worth the extra cost of the wines.

Additional reporting by wine expert, Charles Metcalfe, speaker, author, and co-chair of the International Wine Challenge.


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