11 new wave wine clubs

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Wine clubs that deliver wine to your front door have been around longer than the internet. The first were mail-order clubs, akin to a book of the month club. Then they began migrating online. Now, there’s a new breed of wine clubs that uses technology and algorithms to pinpoint the best wine for you. Think Stitch Fix or Amazon for wine, with personalization as the new mantra.

Here are 11 new-wave wine clubs worth considering, whether you’re a wine newbie or a somm wannabe.

For wine newbies

Tasting Room

A Tasting Room wine club starter kit gauges your tastes via mini-bottles. (Mary Orlin/Bay Area News Group) 

New members of the Tasting Room wine club begin by rating the six wines in a starter kit of mini-bottles. The Tasting Room team then customizes subsequent shipments based on those ratings. The wines are sourced from 10 countries and discounts are sizable ($20 wines for $13, for example), which makes this a great, nonspendy pick for folks exploring the world of wine. Plus the customization options are considerable. You choose the shipment size (two to 12 bottles), frequency and shipping date, and you can review the selections and change them before they ship. Shipments include recommendations for food pairings and other wine varietals, regions and style you might like.

The sips: Our tasting kit included two whites and four reds, two of which we loved, including a lemony, zippy French white and an Italian barbera d’Asti. From that, the Tasting Room generated a profile for fresh, zesty whites for us, although we’re more partial to aromatic whites and earthy reds. So we swapped out wines for our next shipment and ended up with a mix of pleasant, though not terribly exciting, wine. That said, we know what we like. If you don’t, a Tasting Room membership is an easy way to find out. Details: www.tastingroom.com

Bright Cellars

This club has techie appeal. Founded by MIT grads Richard Yau and Joe Laurendi, a proprietary “Bright Points” algorithm matches your wine preferences, based on 18 attributes derived from an initial quiz that asks questions about your tastes in chocolate, tea, beer and spirits, as well your adventurousness in the wine world. As each monthly wine shipment ($60 for four bottles of reds, whites or a mix) arrives, you rate them, so future shipments can be tailored to your taste.

Wine bottles in Bright Cellars' monthly club shipment come wrapped inbright teal tissue paper. (Mary Orlin/Bay Area News Group)
Wine bottles in Bright Cellars’ monthly club shipment come wrapped in brightly hued tissue paper. (Mary Orlin/Bay Area News Group) 

The sips: With its bright teal-colored wrappings and pithy wine quote stickers, Bright Cellars takes a fun approach. Serious wine lovers may find the algorithm-recommended wines very basic, as we did, or not well aligned with their tastes. But Bright Cellars is a great option for wine-world newcomers. Details: www.brightcellars.com

HelloFresh

This is a great option for foodies, who want to up their wine-and-food pairing game. Order a HelloFresh meal kit subscription and you get the option of adding wine chosen by the club’s sommelier to pair with the recipes — you can get the wine shipments ($89 for six bottles) without the meal kit, too. HelloFresh’s team makes and bottles the wine, using grapes sourced from international vineyards. Shipments can be scheduled, skipped or rescheduled. You can’t customize the initial box, but you can make adjustments on future shipments.

The sips: We found HelloFresh’s wines simple and straightforward, with nothing too challenging for any palate. If you like more complexity though, you may want to look elsewhere. Details: www.hellofresh.com

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