Most of my reviews have to do with tech gadgets like smartphones, headphones or home automation devices. But I also like to review online services, especially when I come across one that I really like (or dislike).
Such is the case with Winc.com and Tasting Room, two similar but yet different online wine clubs. Yes, I realize that wine is not a tech gadget but using an online service to have wine delivered to your front door is clearly within the realm of technology and something I’d like to share my experience with.
The first online wine club I joined was Tasting Room which grabbed my attention with their initial wine tasting kit (with mini wine bottles) that they send you and that you enjoy in front of your computer while following their step-by-step tasting instructions. The idea is that your virtual wine tasting helps Tasting Room recommend future bottles of wine in your shipments based on your wine preferences learned during the initial tasting.
Unfortunately, this sounds more high tech than it is. The 6-bottle tasting consisted mostly of “Taste wines 1 and 2, which do you like better” followed by the same with wines 3 and 4 and wines 5 and 6. That’s it.
I take that back. They did ask me at the end if there were any of the six wines that I absolutely did not like. For me, it was the Malbec they sent me. It’s not that I don’t like a Malbec. I just didn’t like the one they sent me.
This is actually the part that soured me the most with Tasting Room. After I specifically said I didn’t like the Malbec, they showed me my first shipment wine recommendations and, lo and behold, there were two full bottles of the Malbec I just said I didn’t like in my shipment. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was the same brand, same type of wine, but one vintage year later.
Now I realize there can be a big difference between vintage years but it seems to me that if you are trying to make a good impression with me with your wine recommendations you could do a lot better than, “Well, maybe you just didn’t like that vintage year.”
I also didn’t like that you received two of every bottle of wine, really giving you only six selections. To me, this meant that if I didn’t like a type of wine they sent me, I not only poured one bottle of wine down the drain, but two. No thanks.
In the end, I ended up swapping over half of the wine selections recommended to me with other ones that I thought sounded good. Now I’m happy that Tasting Room let me do this, but when the dust settled, who really did the wine selecting, them or me?
The second online wine club I tried was Winc.com. I first discovered Winc.com through a deal offered on Swagbucks. The deal was so good that I basically got my first shipment for free. Now who could resist that?
Current Winc.com Offer: Get a $13 bottle of wine on the house!
Winc.com uses a similar approach to Tasting Room in that they ask you some questions online about your taste preferences (general food tastes not necessarily wine tastes). But unlike Tasting Room, there is no initial mini wine bottle tasting. Instead, they go straight to your first recommended wine shipment.
Maybe it was just dumb luck, but the wines I received from Winc.com were all very good and I didn’t have to do any overriding of any kind with their recommendations.
The only weird thing about Winc.com is that I feel like they are in the middle of some sort of re-branding. While they call themselves Winc.com, some of their emails and ship notices say ClubW.com. What’s even weirder is that I can log into either site with my account information and, while the sites look different, they have the same information. If I had to guess, I would said Winc.com is the new name and ClubW.com is the old name but don’t hold me to that.
Quantity and frequency
Both Tasting Room and Winc.com let you play around with the frequency of your shipments, either letting you indicate how often you want your shipment (every month, every 2 months or every 3 months) or by letting you skip a month. You can also alter the number of wine bottles in your shipment and whether you want all white, all red or a mixture of both.
As far as taste goes, I enjoyed nearly every wine I received from both clubs so I couldn’t say whether the wines from one club are better than the other. Then again, I’m a casual wine drinker and not some wine aficionado. Both clubs also allow you (and encourage you) to rate each bottle of wine you receive from them. This helps them recommend and prepare your future shipments.
But in the end, I will probably stick with Winc.com because I had a better overall experience with them and I certainly don’t need to be in two wine clubs at the same time.
Get a free bottle of wine
If you’re interested in trying out Winc.com, they do have an offer for new referrals that gets both you and me a free bottle of mine. Just use the link below to get started.