"The Wine Society is on fire at the moment... The £40 one-off membership fee has never looked better value. You'll recoup the money on your first two orders and after that have free access to a simply superb collection of wines at bargain prices. Madness not to join."
So says Victoria Moore, wine editor with the Daily Telegraph. But don't just take some smancy-pants journalists' word for it. We have been members of the Wine Society for a few years now and it was without doubt the best £40 we've ever spent. Here's why...
The Wine Society is very different to other online wine businesses. The Wine Society is a co-operative. That means they are not in this to make money, their focus is to keep their members happy. This is reflected in the quality of the wines which typically punch well above their weight even at lower price points. Some of the best sub £8 wines we've tasted have been sourced here and they have a good selection of entry level wines; they carry more than 200 wines at this price point.
Part of their commitment to keep customers happy is their promise that you can 'Uncork with Confidence'. If you do not enjoy a wine for any reason, they want to hear about it and they will offer a credit, replacement or refund. Their website has an Amazon style feature 'if you like this wine, try these...' which encourages you to try new wines safe in the knowledge that if you don't like it, they will replace or refund it.
We also like that they stock a nice range of half bottles which come in useful on a Monday evening. We wish more wine retailers would follow suit.
So if we haven't yet convinced you to take the plunge and join the Wine Society, here's some more damn fine reasons;
- £20 credit. Has the one off £40 joining fee put you off? If it helps, when you join you'll get a £20 voucher to credit against your first order - bargain!
- Range. There's an excellent range of 1,500 wines from dependable areas such as France, Italy and New Zealand, from the more obscure (but very interesting) regions of Greece, Lebanon and Uruguay with lots of places in between. As mentioned above, more than 200 of the wines are priced at less that £8.
- Own label wines. The Society work with very talented wine makers globally to produce a number of own-label wines. The Society Range contains lots of wines that are excellent value for money with most priced £5.50 - £8.95. Their Exhibition Range is a price point up but a big step up in quality. We've tried a lot of their own label wines and have been repeatedly impressed.
- Award winning. Wine magazine Decanter has awarded the title of National Retailer of the Year to the wine Society for five successive years now; an impressive showing.
The downsides? There are very, very few (actually, we could only think if one);
- No high street presence. Unlike other outlets, this is substantially an online-only retailer (though they do have an excellent showroom in Stevenage and an outlet in Calais). This is compensated for with their 'uncork with confidence' promise and excellent delivery options.
So in summary, this could be the best £40 you ever spend if you're looking for high quality, well priced wines from a retailer with an excellent selection.
Check them out at: http://www.thewinesociety.co.uk
Here's some of our Wine Society favourites:
When we first opened this red wine, we thought we had mistakenly opened one which was much more expensive. A fabulous wine at this price point, rich and spicy and versatile. This is one of our 'house reds'.
A little pricier this one but well worth the money. Produced by John Williams of Frog's Leap winery (a favourite of ours) this has vibrant red fruits, leather and vanilla. A gorgeous treat with a Sunday beef roast.
A good example of the slightly quirky and interesting wines they sell, this Chenin with a splash of Roussanne has lots of character for the money. The Chenin makes for quite a rich wine with the Roussanne just giving an edge of spice and freshness.