Firstleaf vs. Winc
Comparing Two Wine Subscription Services
Have you been thinking about joining a wine club?
If you enjoy sipping on Chardonnay while cooking, sitting out in the backyard with a glass of rosé, grilling with a Pinot Noir in hand, or pouring yourself some Cabernet Sauvignon with dinner, a wine of the month club can be a great way to keep your wine rack stocked with enticing bottles. We've reviewed lots of different wine subscriptions here at MSA, and in this article, we're going to compare two of the best: Firstleaf and Winc.
Both of these companies work directly with winemakers to bring you top-quality wines at competitive prices, and you can customize your shipments to suit your preferences, but there are a few significant differences that set these subscriptions apart.
Firstleaf vs. Winc
There are a lot of different wine subscription boxes out there to choose from, but Firstleaf and Winc have consistently delighted our reviewers and tickled their tastebuds. Today, we're going to take a look at them side-by-side to help you understand how they differ and which one might be best for you.
Well, first of all, don't expect to see wines from well-known wineries. With both Firstleaf and Winc, you're unlikely to see the same bottles you'll find lining the shelves at your local retailers. Both of these subscriptions work directly with small vineyards and independent winemakers, which allows them to offer wine drinkers great wines at competitive prices. (Cutting out the middle man means they can avoid costly markups and fees.)
When you subscribe to the Firstleaf wine club, you'll take a quiz as part of the signup process that identifies your wine preferences. You can indicate if there are any specific flavors or characteristics that you enjoy or avoid, and then Firstleaf's algorithm will make personalized recommendations just for you. Not sure about some of your recommended wines? No problem. You can swap out any of the bottles you want for new wines. Firstleaf specializes in award-winning bottles and the selection isn't huge, but there are enough options that you should be able to avoid a specific varietal or type of wine. (Here's an example of what that means in practice: When it comes to white wine, Sauvignon Blanc is my favorite wine and I prefer to skip Chardonnay. With Firstleaf, I'm able to avoid receiving Chardonnay in my shipments, but there isn't a wide enough selection to fill my box entirely with different bottles of Sauvignon Blanc.) After enjoying the wines in your shipment, you can log into your account and rate them. Over time, your ratings help improve Firstleaf's recommendations.
Winc's wine club membership signup process is similar, and you'll also take a short quiz as part of the monthly subscription signup process. Your answers will help Winc pin down your palate profile, and they use this info to make personalized bottle recommendations every month. You can go along with their suggestions or log into your account and choose your own bottles. When you're picking wines to fill up your box, you'll have a wider selection with Winc than you will with Firstleaf, but it still isn't huge. (Winc usually has around 40 bottles that subscribers can choose from.) After each box, you'll be invited to rate the wines you received, and over time your feedback helps Winc better learn your likes and dislikes and better select the perfect wines for you.
Can I pick my own bottles?
Yes. Both subscriptions will make personalized recommendations for you, but you're welcome to log into your account and swap out any bottles you don't want to receive. With Firstleaf, you'll have a fairly limited selection of wines to choose from, but it's not difficult to avoid specific varietals or types of wine. With Winc, you're welcome to pick out whichever bottles you like from their evolving selection. Both feature white and red wines as well as the occasional sparkling wine and rosé.
Where are the wines sourced from?
Firstleaf partners with small-batch wineries all over the world. You'll find domestic wines, new-world wines, and old-world wines. Winc works with their own in-house winemakers, but they also partner with small and indie wineries. A significant number of Winc's wines are from the U.S., California, and Napa, but you'll also find a smaller selection of bottles from places like France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Argentina.
Are the wines any good?
Yes! Both Firstleaf and Winc send wines that are pretty great. I recently reviewed Firstleaf and felt that the wines were very good (especially considering the price point). I also regularly review Winc, and I think the wines are solid. I don't always love every single bottle I receive, but most of the time I'm very pleased with my wines, and it's very rare I get a bottle that I flat-out dislike.
Will I receive tasting notes?
Firstleaf sends a card to accompany each bottle in your shipment that includes stats about the wine, food pairing suggestions, and tasting notes to guide you through the wine tasting. Winc provides similar info about their wines, but it's available digitally; you can visit Winc's website to learn more about the wines in your box.
How many wines will I receive per order?
After your initial order, Firstleaf sends 6 bottles per shipment at a frequency of your choosing. You can also double up and receive 12 bottles per shipment. With Winc, you'll need to order a minimum of three bottles in your monthly wine shipment. If you order four or more, you'll receive free shipping. Club members who order a full case of 12 get 10% off.
How often will I receive wine?
Firstleaf sends shipments at a frequency of your choosing: monthly, every two months, or every three months. You can update your shipping frequency online as often as you like. Winc processes orders monthly; however, you can skip a month as often as needed.
The Cost: $39.00 and free shipping for the first box of 6 wines, and $79.00 + shipping for subsequent boxes.
ACTIVE DEAL: Intro offer $39.95 + free shipping no code needed. No coupon needed - just use this link.
Shipping: Firstleaf currently ships to 43/50 states. They do not currently ship to the following states: Hawaii, Alaska, Utah, Rhode Island, Mississippi, and Alabama.
The Cost: Bottles start at $12.99 each with a membership. (Shipping is free on orders of 4 or more bottles.)
ACTIVE DEAL: Use code SANTA6 for $30 off Santa’s Secret 6-Pack wine bundle thank you!
Shipping: Ships to eligible U.S. zip codes, which you can check through this link.
Both Firstleaf and Winc ship out orders in sturdy cardboard boxes and keep bottles safe by nestling them in molded cradles. Personally, I've never received damaged bottles from either company, but not to worry if you do. Both Firstleaf and Winc guarantee that shipments will arrive safely and their wine concierge teams will replace any bottles that are damaged in transit.
Firstleaf wine shipments are packed flat and secured with molded layers of recycled paper. You can recycle the shipping materials curbside. Firstleaf shipments are also carbon neutral! Here's more information about that from their website:
Along with our partners, we’re pleased to say that all of our shipments are now carbon neutral. This is in thanks to both recycled packaging and carbon offsets.
Winc sends bottles in an upright cardboard box that has molded pieces to hold them in place. (This keeps the bottles secure and prevents them from knocking into each other during transport.) The box has a convenient handle that makes it easy to carry. Here's some additional information from Winc about recycling and sustainability:
Both our box and the pulp trays inside are entirely compostable. You'll also notice that most Winc bottles arrive without a cork capsule. Back in the day, capsules were used to protect corks in old cellars. Now they're no longer needed as wine bottles are stored in controlled and regulated cellars or warehouses. It's extremely sustainable to go without them!
Wine Selection Deadline & Cancellations
As long as your Firstleaf shipment has not yet been processed, you can postpone your next order for as long as you like. You can preview upcoming shipments in your online account and make changes to your upcoming orders. Canceling your subscription is easy and can be done by logging into your account online.
Winc orders process on the same date every month. After your pairings have been selected, you'll receive an email with your monthly recommendations, and you can navigate to the website to make changes or skip the month. (If you do nothing, your order will process and your wines will ship out automatically.) If you'd like to skip, make sure you do so at least 48 hours before your monthly order date. You can cancel by chatting online with one of Winc's representatives.
The Final Verdict
Let's take one final look at some of the key points of comparison between these two wine clubs:
Price? When it comes to price, these boxes are in the same ballpark. You'll pay around $13.00 for wines from Firstleaf, while Winc wines start at $12.99. Firstleaf charges shipping for wine club orders. With Winc, shipping is free if you order 4 bottles or more.
Vino? You'll get tasty wine from both of these subscriptions, and they each allow you to customize your shipments.
Convenience? Both subscriptions are super convenient. (Is there anything more convenient than having wines shipped directly to your front door?) Both subscriptions also learn your preferences over time and curate boxes just for you— it's almost like having your own personal sommelier!
Final Thoughts: Both Firstleaf and Winc work directly with indie winemakers to cut out the middlemen and bring you high-quality, affordable wines. If you only want to receive a few bottles of wine every month or want to choose from a large selection, Winc is a great pick. You'll receive free shipping on orders of four bottles or more, and the regularly changing selection of wines offers plenty of choices. Winc is also a great subscription for design junkies and those who enjoy "choosing a book by its cover"; the labels feature creative designs that are always a lot of fun. On the other hand, if you prefer international wines, Firstleaf might be the way to go. Winc's selection is fairly U.S.-centric, whereas Firstleaf features a wider selection of bottles from overseas. Firstleaf is also a great choice for those who want a wine club that will send a box bi-monthly or quarterly. You can adjust your frequency online, which means you won't have to log in every time you want to skip a month.
Ready to give one of these boxes a try? Check out our Winc and Firstleaf offers to score some free meals!
Firstleaf ACTIVE DEAL: Intro offer $39.95 + free shipping no code needed. No coupon needed - just use this link.
Winc ACTIVE DEAL: Use code SANTA6 for $30 off Santa’s Secret 6-Pack wine bundle thank you!
Want to learn about even more wine subscriptions like Wine Awesomeness, Bright Cellars Wine Club, Vinebox, Plonk Wine Club, and Martha Stewart Wine? Check out our list of the best wine clubs!
What do you think is the wine subscription? Do you agree that these are two of the best wine clubs? Share your experience in the comments!