Winc vs Bright Cellars vs Firstleaf vs Wine Awesomeness – October 2016
This month, I reviewed wine boxes from Winc (Club W), Bright Cellars, Firstleaf, and Wine Awesomeness. To see how the subscriptions compare, I’ve outlined what I received from each subscription below. Read on to see the wines I received and to find out which box came out on top for me this month!
Also, since the holidays are right around the corner, I’ve added some gifting tips in this review! I’ve highlighted the gift options available from each subscription, as well as some tips for picking the perfect gift for that thirsty friend or family member.
Winc (formerly Club W) is a wine subscription box that re-imagines the traditional wine club. They offer a regularly changing selection of unique, small production wines that are sourced directly from vineyards and winemakers. Winc suggests bottles for you based on a “palate profile quiz” you take when you join. You can decide to receive the bottles they suggest for you, or you can pick your own wines from their ever-changing collection. Winc wines start at $13 each, and shipping is free on orders of 4 or more bottles. You can skip a shipment at any time.
COUPON: $20 off your first order, no coupon required, just use this link!
Ships to: All US states EXCEPT AK, AL, AR, DE, HI, KY, MS, OK, RI, DS, and UT
Keep track of your subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription box list or wishlist!
I picked my wines this month, so none of the bottles were a surprise. My favorite bottle was definitely the Wildest Dreams White Blend, which was dry, crisp, and delicious. I really loved it. The Albariño was a close second, though, and I found the smooth, balanced flavor really enjoyable. The Capuchon and Honey Beast, both Rhône-style white blends, weren’t wines I’d order again, but I enjoyed trying them.
One of my favorites has to be this pack of caramel popcorn and red wine. (Each popcorn was selected because it brings out different flavors in the accompanying wine!) The pack includes:
- 2013 Winc DIME 100 Meritage Blend
- Art of Caramel Kentucky Bourbon Black Pepper Popcorn
- Art of Caramel Vanilla Bean Coco Nib Popcorn
- Art of Caramel Bananas Foster with Dark Rum and Mayan Chile Chocolate
Another incredible gift option is this pack that contains a bottle of Summer Water Rosé and a selection of products from Herbivore. Herbivore is one of my favorite natural beauty brands, and I love the Summer Water Rosé! (I reviewed it back in May.) This pack contains:
- Winc Summer Water Rosé
- Coco Rose (a coconut body oil polish)
- Calm (soaking salts from the Dead Sea)
- Pink Clay Exfoliating Mask
- Pink Clay Cleansing Bar Soap
Of course, Winc also offers gift cards! Winc gift cards start at $60.
Since Winc allows subscribers to customize their shipments, it’s a great option for those who know what they like (or don’t like) to drink. The wine is consistently solid, and the packaging is fantastic. If you know someone who loves both wine and great design, I think they’d get a kick of of Winc’s creative and fanciful labels!
Bright Cellars was founded by a couple of MIT grads with a passion for wine and technology, and the subscription is designed with both of those interests in mind. When you sign up for a subscription, you take a “taste palate quiz” that helps pinpoint your taste in wine. Your monthly wines are then selected using a proprietary algorithm that “scores each wine by comparing 18 attributes to your preferences, matching you with your monthly experience.” You can choose the ratio of red to white you receive in each box by adjusting your preferences online. Also, interestingly, Bright Cellars doesn’t hire sommeliers to help influence wine buying. Instead, they crowd source their wine selections by relying on the tastes of their team. (Office wine tastings? Wouldn’t that be a fun perk of working at Bright Cellars!) Shipments contain 4 bottles and cost $60 + $8 shipping.
COUPON: Receive a $30 credit towards your first box!, no coupon required, just use this link!
Ships to: US states where it is legal to receive wine by mail. If you’re uncertain whether you can receive wine shipments, contact the Bright Cellars Wine Concierge at email@example.com.
Keep track of your subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription box list or wishlist!
Kogara Canyon Shiraz– $7.99
2015 Lavender Row Rosé– $11.99
California 2014 Forty Winks Chardonnay
Bright Cellars has been a little hit & miss for me lately. I loved the rosé, which was nicely tart, crisp, and clean, and liked the Limited Chardonnay, which was full of tropical fruit flavors and had a nice minerality, but the other two bottles were misses.
If you’d like to gift Bright Cellars boxes, you can sign up through the Bright Cellars gift page. Gifts start at $75 (the cost of one box) and include wine, shipping, and tax. Once your transaction is complete, your gift recipient will receive an email from Bright Cellars with a link to the quiz. Once they take the quiz, their wine matches will be sent.
Wine Awesomeness specializes in rare and unusual wines, and their curatorial team is led by a Food & Wine Sommelier of the Year! They seek out “the coolest, craveworthiest wines” and send “vino you don’t see every day, but will want to drink everyday.” There’s no quiz with Wine Awesomeness, and the bottles you receive are not tailored to your taste; however, you can pick whether you want to receive all reds, all whites (with a chance of rosé or bubbly), or a mix (with a chance of rosé or bubbly). Wine Awesomeness costs $45 per month for 3 bottles.
COUPON: Get your first box free – just pay $22.50 shipping, no coupon required, just use this link!
Ships to: US (Including states where most other alcohol subscriptions don’t ship, like PA and OK!)
Keep track of your subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription box list or wish list!
ONEHOPE Brut – $18.99
Yet again, Wine Awesomeness managed to send me three wines that I loved this month! (They’ve been on a ridiculous hot streak!) The Sauvignon Blanc was crisp, clean, and delicious, and the No. 2 Willow Way introduced me to a blend I’ve never seen before. Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio? What a wild and wonderful mix! Lastly, the ONEHOPE Brut had nice flavor (think light sweetness with lots of peach and pear), and I love that ONEHOPE donates 25 meals to a hungry child for every case of wine sold. What a great cause!
If you want to give someone the gift of Wine Awesomeness, you can sign them up for a pre-paid subscription ($135 for 3 months, $256 for 6 months, or $364 for 9 months) or send them a single box ($45).
Wine Awesomeness impresses me almost every month; the wine they send is consistently great. I think this is a great subscription for people who know a thing or two about wine, and are willing to try just about anything. (Wine Awesomeness doesn’t allow customization beyond offering boxes that are all white, all red, or mixed.) This is also a great subscription for those who approach wine with a fun and light-hearted spirit. They often include wacky and offbeat wine descriptions and tips for creating wine-themed DIY projects. (Think wine-filled squirt guns and watermelon kegs!)
Firstleaf is a new monthly wine subscription from the parent company that owns magazines like Food & Wine, Cooking Light, Sunset, and Travel + Leisure. By rating the wines you receive, Firstleaf learns your tastes and can start to personalize the wines you receive. You can preview your wines every month and swap out up to 3 bottles. Every box includes 6 bottles and costs $79 + shipping. (For reference, the total cost with shipping to DC is $88.95.) Unlike the wine boxes above, Firstleaf doesn’t offer much when it comes to branding and supplemental materials. Years ago (before the subscription box craze took off), I subscribed to an old-fashioned wine club that shipped out their wines in unmarked brown boxes, and Firstleaf reminds me a lot of that. I think modern wine subscriptions are far more likely to send colorful, branded packaging and supplemental info cards. Personally, I really enjoy learning a bit about wine before I drink it, so I miss that in this subscription.
COUPON: Get your first 3 bottles for only $19.95 (including shipping). No code required, just use this link.
Ships to: US
Keep track of your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription box list or wish list!
Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2015– $11.99
Pontil Côtes de Gascogne 2015
Ultima Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Ephemera 2014 French Red Wine
Le Coq Gaulois Bordeaux 2014
Out of the six bottles I received from Firstleaf this month, I really only enjoyed the Viognier and the Côtes de Gascogne. It’s nice that Firstleaf offers the ability to customize boxes by type of wine (red/white/mix) and region (domestic/international/mix), but I’ve tried a number of different variations and haven’t found any that work for me. It’s become pretty clear that this box isn’t a good fit. Of course, everyone has different taste in wine, so others might feel differently. Still, I’m not sure I’d recommend it. (Full disclosure: November will be my last shipment.)
Firstleaf does not currently have any gifting options available.
Verdict: It’s so much fun to compare the different wine subscriptions and look back at the bottles I received this month. There were a lot of great bottles in September, but this month one bottle rose above the rest. Winc’s 2015 Wildest Dreams White Blend was interesting and delicious. I loved it. In the race for best overall box, I have to say that I’m really blown away by Wine Awesomeness this month. All three bottles were great, and I love that the box included a charitable wine and a blend that I’ve never seen before!
Favorite box: Wine Awesomeness