Top UK Wine Clubs: the best wine clubs UK

6 reasons to join wine clubs in the UK and 6 top wine clubs to choose from

If you’ve never considered joining a wine club before now, now could be the right time as some of the UK’s biggest clubs have made it easier to join while offering some amazing benefits for doing so. The UK is one of the world’s most adventurous nations when it comes to trying new wines – if you don’t join, you could be missing out on some wonderful wines that will never make it to supermarket.

UK wine clubs

UK wine clubs: essential information on the best wine clubsIf you enjoy a nice glass of wine, and many people do here in the UK where we reportedly drink 12 million more bottles of wine every year than we first thought. You’ve probably never been particularly adventurous with your choices – sticking with the same brands and the same labels from the same off license or supermarket for your weekend tipple.

It was once the case that few people considered joining a wine club; today, though membership has grown somewhat and they are shedding the reputation of being purely for wine connoisseurs and wine snobs. This reputation is unfair as people from many walks of life, both genders, all age groups and identities enjoy wine and can join to take advantage of some of the wonderful reasons for doing so.

The Benefits of Wine Clubs

The idea that wine clubs are for the elite, people who would describe themselves as “wine connoisseurs” or “wine snobs” is certainly a thing of the past as the average price of a good bottle of wine has come down. This has especially been the case in the last 20-25 years as new markets and vineyards have opened up in California, Chile, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand to challenge traditional producers of France, Italy, Germany and Spain that had dominated the British market. We quickly moved from an attitude of “we don’t drink wine from the colonies!” to a wholesale embrace of New World Wines.

We love wine here in the UK; today, we are one of the biggest consumers of wine from all over the world. In the early part of the 21st century when wine consumption was falling globally, the UK bucked the trend in being a growing market, and it was towards the new world wines that our tastes were developing. It should come as no great surprise to anyone that wine clubs were able to take advantage of this growing interest and adventurous outlook, appeal to a broader scope of people and encourage membership.

Wine Club Deals and Discounts

One of the major advantages of joining a wine club is that they offer great discounts when you buy in bulk, half cases or whole cases of your favourite wines. Though buying 12 bottles from a supermarket will usually come with a discount offer, it is nowhere near the bulk buying discount opportunity offered by specialist wine clubs and you won’t get the service or the breadth of choice. Whether that is heavy discount on your first purchases of a new season, permanent low prices or package deals for buying a complete case, members of wine clubs can take advantage of special discounts only available through the club. These discounts are often available because the wine club selectors go direct to the vineyard and do not act through a distributor which will often push the price up.

Personalised Recommendations

Most of us already know what we do or do not like in a wine but few people go beyond dry-sweet light-full bodied in their selection. Being in a wine club, especially as somebody who may not consider themselves a wine expert, you will be privy to the expertise of the selectors behind the club. As they analyse your personal tastes and buying history – as an individual and as a group – you will receive personal recommendations you will not get elsewhere.

If you like organic wines, low calorie wines, small producers, Fair Trade wines, British wines or wines made from produce other than grapes, you have a much better chance finding what you want in a wine club that can help you find the right wine or wines for you.

Special Events & VIP Areas

The social aspect of being in a wine club is a huge draw for many people. Far from being passive recipients of marketing material and buying interesting wine, it is the opportunity to go to wine tasting events, special member only meals and to receive first refusal tickets for public events. The social aspect and the sense of community of being in a wine club is a vital part of the experience. If you go to big events such as festivals and your particular wine club is present, you will have access to special VIP areas where you can enjoy your wine and a meal in peace. Special treatment is one of the great perks of joining a wine club and you can make new friends and acquaintances at the same time.

Sense of Discovery & Variety

Wine retailers and supermarkets carefully control what they sell – they have loss leaders to draw people in, offer discounts on core labels and stock the same labels and brands most of the year round with little variation. How supermarkets sell wine is quite unexciting. Visit your local supermarket six months apart and the chances are they will have much the same stock. Wine clubs are specialists and once you have joined, you will rarely want to go back to such limited choice. As noted above, in the UK we are very adventurous in our wine choices. Wine clubs allow us to explore that adventurous spirit in offering us a sense of discovery and a much wider variety of wine choices, always updating their stock.

First in Line

There is a sense of excitement in knowing you will get to try out a product before it goes on general release – and this is just as true with wines as it is with anything else. You will find that some of these wines will never make it to our supermarkets or off licenses because of the buying methods that they employ. Producers prefer other distribution methods such as their own vineyard shops or to retailers who are slightly more discerning or knowledgeable about customer needs. Wine clubs are a great way for small vineyards to keep up with the large producers and a great way for members to discover them.

Ethical Shopping

For some, ethical shopping is an important part of the food buying experience. Concerns about the use of chemical fertilisers drive people toward buying organic, concerns about exploitation of workers in developing countries drives people to look for ethical labels such as Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance or other similar schemes with a strong ethical focus. Though most retailers have responded to the ethical trading requirements of their customers, walk through any supermarket wine aisle and there is not that much choice. The perception that wine clubs work on a personal level with smaller producers who act ethically is one that drives people towards joining.

Best Wine Clubs in the UK

 

best Uk wine clubs

The Wine Society

The biggest and arguably the best wine club in the UK is The Wine Society. They were founded in the mid-19th century following appeal from wine producers from all over the world who wanted somewhere to store their wine during the last of the Great Exhibitions. Guests of the exhibition were interested in the wines that had been shipped in that General Scott, one of the architects of the Albert Hall, proposed setting up a co-operative to acquire high quality wines to sell to the clubs members.

Today, they are still going strong and they keep their membership numbers relatively low to avoid over-expanding. In their 100+ years, they have won many awards for their dedication as a club as well as some of the superior wines that they have selected.

The Wine Society Benefits

As a member of The Wine Society, you will have all the benefits of being associated with a prestigious organisation with a long heritage that prides itself on selecting some of the best wines from global small producers. The club sources direct from the producer and each member is a shareholder. It has always had amongst the largest ranges of wines and has not reduced its dedication to promoting the highest-quality products.

The Wine Society offers its members £20 off their first order as well as regular deals on special vintages and limited editions. It is the country’s most prestigious club, but we have definitely others who compete well.

Organic Wine club cases subscription new wine drink less but better winesOrganic Wine Club

Organic Wine Club is UK’s first wine club solely dedicated to organic wines. They offer wines by the case, wine subscription and wine plans offering variety of flavours. When you join this ethical wine club, you save on cases of organic wine, but also become a part of a community.

Organic Wine Club offers exceptional organic wines which are better for your health in terms of absence of harmful chemicals that are used in conventional viticulture. These are great tasting wines that you can savour for a longer period and hence reduce your alcohol intake. We think you are to have a better, healthier and happier wine lifestyle.

Organic Wine Club benefits

Explore Introductory and Classic organic wine cases, so you can discover organic wines. You can subscribe and get extra 5% discount. To explore further, we have created Members-only wine cases to match different occasions and expectations from wine.

Online wine shopping at its best: from wine subscription to detailed tasting notes, from cases of different and exciting wines to wine and health information and wine knowledge.

Discounts work the following way: up to 10% when buying Intro and Classic cases, another up to 10% when buying Members-only (discounts add up!) and additional 5% for subscription! Up to 25% off retail that is. In additional to that, get points for loyalty and referrals and exchange them for wine vouchers! Wonderful

Naked Wines

Few members-only clubs have a waiting list, but Naked Wines is one of them. Tailored with the environmentally and ethically conscious in mind, Naked Wines works on a different model from the others in that members (Angels) are asked to add a £20 monthly fee to be part of the club. The money is used to fund and help independent winemakers and members reap the benefits of being an “Angel”. Year on year, they work with the same producers to help them focus on quality rather than quantity and maintain high standards. They have been bought by Majestic Wine this year, so we expect more synergies to come as a result of this merger, but so far you can enjoy the benefits of Majestic Wine alongside of Naked Wines.

Naked Wines Benefits

£20 per month may sound rather a lot to become an Angel, but the model is successful because of the unique member benefits that it offers in exchange for the fee. It’s not just about altruism in supporting small producers and independents, being an Angel entitles you to discount on exclusive wines produced by the vineyards affiliated with Naked Wines. As an Angel, you will also get freebies and invitations to exclusive events. You will also not lose out, you can use the money invested in wines from the site or you can take it out if you don’t like the system. Do not forget that we have an exclusive offer from Naked Wines: £60 off your first order of £99.99 or more! Head to our Forum to get your voucher code and password!

Marks & Spencer Wine Club

Of all the wine clubs run by high street companies, M&S Wine Club is considered the most prestigious. Like conventional wine clubs, they boast access to exclusive vineyards from around the world and a dedicated team who created detailed information on the wines so that members without extensive wine experience do not feel intimidated by the choices available. They have two club types – the Classic and the Reserva. Both are free delivery and offer excellent discount on premium wines.

M&S Wine Club Benefits

The greatest benefit of the M&S Wine Club is that there are no risks associated with being a member. There is no contract and no sign up fee. You’re also under no obligation to buy a minimum number of wines every year. What’s more, you are guaranteed around 25% discount on every order you do place. M&S have a reputation to uphold as a provider of quality food and produce on the high street their wine club is no exception.

Virgin Wines

Virgin Wines was one of the earliest “modern” wine clubs to operate through internet ordering. Like most of the Virgin Group, they like to make things as easy as possible and their wine club is no exception. They base their rankings and recommendations on what their members are telling them. This way, they can continually improve their range based on reviews. Wine tasting sessions take place every week. They categorise wines based on style rather than by country or region of origin, allowing their members to have a proper wine experience.

Virgin Wines Benefits

The first major benefit is that your opinion counts. Virgin Wines ask their members to rate and review the wines they buy, that way they can rank them according to preferences. It also means they will tailor their recommendations based on your personal preferences. If you are also a member of their Virgin Flying Club, you can also collect air miles every time you buy wine from their site. There are three different membership types; Discovery Club allows you a quarterly case at a reasonable price. justREDS allows members to buy just red wine. WineBank requires a monthly fee, but Virgin donates money into a fund for you to build WineInterest points. Do not forget that you can always use Virgin Voucher to give the gift of wine and help your gift recipient to pay for their Virgin Wine case.

Waitrose Cellar

Waitrose Cellar is a relatively new division of Waitrose, but it has been picked up very nicely by its members as a reputable and exciting destination for wine. There is no club or community here, but they do work with the customers as if they are in a some sort of a club – having a robust loyalty system shared with this reputable grocery chain allows them to offer you personalised recommendations that can definitely tempt you, maybe now now, but for a special occasion?

With over than 100 wines to choose from you will find much more options than just shopping at Waitrose grocery site, in addition to that, they regularly send out offers and 25 % off wine or money off vouchers.

Laithwaite’s Wine and Sunday Times Wine Club

Laithwaite’s Wine and Sunday Times Wine Club may have different customer support or marketing offers, but in a nutshell they are operated by the same company, so in terms of functionality of their online wine club software or even variety of wine offers they are the same. Their approach is very well suited to those who like being nurtured and pampered with wine education (wine cards) and personalisation of their wine cases, but also who likes a good deal as they are sending out offers almost every month – from mystery cases to money off vouchers and generous seasonal discounts.

Club Benefits

Both clubs are very well designed and allow a complete personalisation and customisation of your wine cases. Say you are to subscribe for a Taste of Spain wine plan and your next case is just not exactly what you want right now. You can login to your club account and start going through bottles changing their amount, adding or removing bottles and at the end you can end up with a completely different case! That is just fine – you will still get it cheaper than wha you would have paid if you were to buy it being a non-member. We normally have around 16-17% off the wine case which is a great saving in the long run. Customer service is very fast and friendly at both Laithwaite’s Wine and Sunday Times Wine Club, so we can recommend to deal with them and be safe and sound that you are getting the most out of these prestigious UK wine clubs.

So which one is the best wine club in the UK?

We have been reviewing wine clubs in the UK before (see our top wine clubs list here), but is there one or a few that will stand out of these 6 wine clubs offering deals and wines that we recommend you the most?

Apart from money saving features and great discounts on wine, there is something that we feel of even more importance – the social aspect and the sense of community of being in a wine club, which are in our opinion vital parts of the experience and should be cherished.

Laithwaite’s Wine and Organic Wine Club offers regular wine tasting experiences where you as a club member can join a real life tasting session, meet other club members, feel the ambiance of being in a  wine club, taste and socialise, drink and enjoy the company of wine-loving people. No money can buy a sense of community and feel of belonging! Cheers to wine clubs!

About The Author

Dimitri

Dimitri is passionate about wines, food to go with it, happy & healthy lifestyle, digital marketing, start-ups and entrepreneurship. www.IBlameTheWine.com is about new organic wines in the UK, what to buy or avoid on the retailer shelves; tips on healthy and happy wine lifestyle, but also provides reviews and rankings for organic wines. Get in touch please, I am always on a lookout for new ideas and connections! Cheers.

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