Wine Insiders wine club, and why more people don’t drink wine

wine insiders wine clubThe problem with the Wine Insiders wine club is not that the wine isn’t good, even though most of it isn’t. The problem is that the company behind the club doesn’t see wine quality as worth worrying about. Instead, its business plan is apparently based on the Holy Trinity of the wine business: fake pricing, hyperbole, and winespeak. Is it any wonder this makes wine companies lots of money but makes wine that much more difficult to enjoy, and especially for people who don’t know much about it?

I’m not the only one who figured this out; the Wine Dabbler took his anger a step further in a post entitled “The great Groupon wine rip-off:”

I received six different wines I had never heard of before, two bottles each. The wines we have tried so far are abysmal — and they all taste virtually the same! … I do not think that there are any violations of the law, but there are carefully planned and willfully executed violations of moral and ethical values.

As I wrote when I ordered, I got a red and white blend, plus a chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and sauvignon blanc. The advertised price for the six wines was $14.99 each with a 40 percent discount. But these wines weren’t worth $14.99, or even 40 percent off $14.99. They’re mostly Two-buck Chuck quality, made from the bulk wine that comes from the grapes that grow in California’s Central Valley by a company that makes bulk wine for just such purposes. The white blend, in fact, tasted a lot like those 4-liter boxes of Franzia — sort of sweet and probably made with French colombard and chenin blanc.

I write “probably” because there wasn’t any information about the wines — no information sheets, and most of the wines didn’t even have a cutesy back label with winespeak. No doubt the company didn’t want to tell anyone what was actually going on. I did get a sheet offering to sell me six bottles of fruit-flavored moscato for $9 a bottle (I’d guess it costs much less than half of that to make) and a “stunning” French rose, also six bottles for $9.99. I’ll pass, thanks.

On the one hand, I’m not surprised this was such a depressing experience. I’ve been writing about wine for too long to expect otherwise. On the other hand, that it was so depressing makes it that much worse. Can’t the ordinary wine drinker ever win?

13 thoughts on “Wine Insiders wine club, and why more people don’t drink wine

  • By Marc R Kauffman CSW -

    At Best Bottle we are all about getting people to discover small family wine producers with wines that over deliver on quality for the price. We are so dedicated to this proposition that we have created a reality TV show about wine making that will be broadcast in 2016-2017. Check out our website
    We would be glad to have you give us your feedback.Also we would welcome an article from you for our newsletter if you would care to contribute.
    Marc R. Kauffman, CSW
    Sommelier/Wine Advisor

  • By Slapdash Gourmet -

    I had the same experience with Wine Insiders, and yes indeed, it was a Groupon buy. I have to say I am sorry I followed your link to ASV Wines… Control brands??? Ugh.

    • By Wine Curmudgeon -

      Control brands is another say of saying private label, mostly for big retailers who will knock off something like Yellow Tail or Barefoot, give it a similar name, and then charge a couple of dollars less. Their margin, though, is much higher than the national brand, since the wine cost so little to make.

  • By Gary Millman -

    i got suckered into trying Wine Insiders aboutbthree or four years ago. The low prices and the promise of good wine lured me in, against my better judgement. My experience was the same as yours. So no anonymous wine clubs for me. I now only buy direct from vineyards where I have tried the wines and know their quality.

  • By Winedabbler -

    Thank you for linking to Looks like our take on the subject is pretty much the same!

    • By Wine Curmudgeon -

      My pleasure. It always annoys me when people get taken by wine companies. What’s the point?

  • By David -

    Looks like I placed an order in December, which I don’t recall. But it seems I am to receive a shipment today, six months later, with a different order number. Logging into my wine account (after creating a new password) did not illuminate a thing. I see no order since the December one. This might be hard to unwind…

  • By Samuel J. Levine -

    My comment is that I have been getting wine club cases from these people for 3 years now and have been thoroughly satisfied in every way. Once I eMailed them that a bottle I just finished was not to my liking. They didn’t reply with “sorry about that!” They refunded me the purchase price. I didn’t ask for that — the just did it. They are not cheap, about $180.00 a case plus ~ $20.00 shipping. My question is “What is the Wine Kermudgeon’s opinion Laithwaite’s?” Am I missing something? And finally, Thanks for informing me about Wine Insiders. Their mailing is now on its way to the recycling bin.

  • By Vino Lover -

    Interesting … I’ve bought from wine insiders for a few years and have found something very different from what you found. First, the wine was not Chuck quality from california. In fact, most of it is from outside the U.S., or at least that is what they said. The labels were not blank or missing. They all had that mushy stuff about how their vineyard has been in the family for 6 generations, and why their wine has a fruity or nutty taste. And my shipments always come with an information sheet describing the wine, the vineyard, the owners, awards, and why they selected it. Shipping is free. The final price works out to about $8/bottle. Sometimes the wine is just OK, which makes for a good glass while cooking. Some bottles are very good. No, they are not $100/bottle caliber, but for $8/bottle, they easily exceed my expectations. I’m glad I didn’t read this review before buying my first case.

  • By Bob -

    I too fell victim too the WineInsider’s nonsense. I did groupon for $30.00 for supposedly $100 voucher worth of wine (plus shipping). I got six bottles of wine that cost me $14.95 in shipping charges….so $45.00 in total….roughly $8.00/bottle. Guess what? I discovered later that every wine in my shipment could be purchased for $6-$8/bottle outside of WineInsiders…so all the prices you see on the WineInsiders website are inflated nonsense. As to the quality? They all tasted pretty much the same and had an after taste indicative of cheaply made bulk wines. Put aside everything you think you know about wine quality and ask yourself one thing….how can WineInsiders (Drink’s Inc) make any money selling you “Quality Wines” at $8.00/bottle? Simple…they sell you 2 buck chuck with a label slapped on the bottle. The “team” traveling the world, using their “connections” in the industry to get insiders-only prices on exclusive wines = person sitting in cubicle calling bulk wine producers from the “finest regions”. Even Italy, France, and South America have bulk wine producers who make crap.

  • By John -

    I do not expect wines in this price range to be of a high quality I have only once experienced a wine of truly outstanding quality and the cost for that was over $100 a bottle. I have had too many mediocre wines for $40 a bottle, particularly in the state I am currently living it (PA). My preference is for red wines, so my comments are in regard to that.
    On the other hand my budget no longer allows me to spend much more than 6 or 7 dollars a bottle for wine.

    When I read about peoples complaints about the quality of wine from clubs such as Wine Insiders and Flash I only ask them what store near them can they buy wine for under $6.00 that is better than what they got from the wine club.

    But then, everybody’s taste is different and to quote Mark Twain: ” There are no standards of taste in wine… Each man’s own taste is the standard, and a majority vote cannot decide for him or in any slightest degree affect the supremacy of his own standard.”

  • By Kastello -

    I was gifted Wine Insiders from a warm-hearted family member who doesn’t drink much wine but does Groupon. I paid to upgrade the quality to the middle “cellar” tier and had to pay for shipping, per the Groupon.

    So far, the Bordeaux and Temperanillo taste oddly similar and offer cheap acidic finishes. I’m not looking forward to sampling the rest and wondering to which “friends” I can gift the doubles.

    Never again.

  • By Marguerite Staderman -

    I find the wines from Wine Insiders an exception value. One must “sort through” the wines to find the good wines. It is like anything, one does not know what it is until it is tried. Of course all the wines for me do not have a pleasing palate I do not purchase it again. I have found wines that are very pleasing, and continue to purchase those wines. I challenge anyone to say all the wines are abysmal. They are far from that.

Comments are closed.