If you’re unfamiliar with wine, you may think of a wine club as a bar where bottles go to chill and uncork, a place where young Merlots line up outside hoping to get in with fake ID’s reading, “Vintage 1985.”

Despite this realistic image, wine clubs, in actuality, are aimed at the people who drink wine, instead of the actual bottles themselves. They may be oxymoronic, because they are based on organized drinking, an act that can potentially lead to knocked over tables and lamp shades on the tops of heads. Nonetheless, wine clubs are a great way to get to know, get to drink, and get to love wine.

The Gist

In a nutshell, joining a wine club is like going to a liquor store escorted by your very own personal wine steward, pushing the cart as he picks out bottles and vintages. This expertise in choosing wine allows you to enjoy an enhanced wine experience, without the anxiety of having to choose a good wine all by yourself.

The concept of wine clubs is similar to Book of the Month clubs, and, incidentally, a wine of the month can make your book of the month that much more exciting to read. Most wine clubs will send you a bottle of white and a bottle of red each month. When Billy Joel wrote the lyrics, “bottle of white, bottle of red,” to Scenes from an Italian Restaurant, it’s possible he had wine clubs in mind.

The Benefits

In addition to opening your door and finding two bottles of wine on your front step, asking you to come out and play, joining a wine club can lead to several “behind the vine” experiences.

For starters, you will have the ability to order wine from a wide range selected by people who are known for merging wisdom and winery. These people tell it like it is, straight from the taste buds.

Most wine clubs also offer a monthly newsletter providing descriptions of what you are drinking, or what you should be drinking. Along these lines, many wine clubs offer recipe tips, providing you with information on what wine to set up with what type of food.

Some wine clubs provide their members with discounts and personal consultations. While being able to call an expert and ask advice on wine may seem like something futuristic – like flying cars, or a cure for acne – many wine clubs offer this kind of service here and now. They also hold events, such as wine festivals and wine tastings, allowing members to become more like experts themselves.

How to Join

There are almost as many wine clubs in existence as there are grapes on any given vine: wine clubs are everywhere and joining one is relatively simple. If you know of a particular club you would like to join, simply contact them via telephone or go online and register for a membership. If you don’t have a specific one in mind, do an Internet search for “wine clubs” or “wine of the month clubs.” Once results are returned, view each club, taking into consideration things like price or accolades, and once you’ve made a decision, sign up.

Wine of the Month clubs allow you to renew or cancel your subscription, allowing you to receive wine for only a month or receive it indefinitely. If you aren’t positive you want to join, try registering just for a month or two. If you decide it’s not for you, you can always cancel and join something a little more fitting, like a Wine of the Day club.