Revel is a streamlined wine subscription box service that offers a selection of red and white wines with an emphasis on crowd-pleasing varietals (grape varieties) like Cabernet and Chardonnay. Its simple model lets you order wines on a one-off basis or via a regular subscription.
The subscription model is simple, flexible, and headache-free
À la carte ordering is easy
Subscribers get an extra discount in the online store
Organic and sulfite-free options
Quite affordable compared to most wine subscription boxes
A limited selection of wines outside of the most popular varietals
No rating system in the online store
Not for people who want to have control over what wines they get in each shipment
Barebones shipments don’t come with any special info for the wines (though tasting notes can be found online)
Cancellation only possible by phone
When I first heard about Revel, it seemed like the perfect solution to some of the issues I had with other wine subscription boxes on the market. I hate spending a lot of time browsing and researching bottles to find just the right one for me, so this California company’s pared-down approach was hard to resist.
Ultimately, I found that Revel largely followed up on its promise to simplify the wine subscription model. Revel’s service, however, is not without its drawbacks.
I really enjoyed Revel’s streamlined subscription process. The thing I love most about wine subscriptions is the mystery element: I want to give some indicators of what I like in wine, and then I want to receive a box of six bottles I’ve never tried before. Revel is perfect for this.
Subscribing (or “joining the club,” as Revel puts it) takes seconds. As the handy infographic below says, it takes just five steps. Each step just consists of putting in your preferences: Do you want organic or sulfite-free wine? Do you like whites, reds, or both? How many bottles do you want per shipment? How often do you want to receive shipments?
Once you answer these easy questions, all that’s left to do is put in your payment and shipment information. It’s that easy – and I really like the simplicity of the process.
Before you check out, you’ll be able to see a list of the wines coming in your next box which actually removes some of the mystery element of the order but can also leave you feeling excited about receiving it. You’ll also see tasting notes, pairing ideas, and other info (see below), but unfortunately you don’t have the option to swap out any of the bottles.
As I said, this is the sort of wine club I prefer: I like to let the company choose the bottles for me. If you’re the type of person who wants the final say over exactly what wines are coming in the box, Revel may not be the one for you.
Revel’s pricing structure is pretty simple. When you sign up, you get the option to choose whether you’d like four, six, or 12 bottles in each shipment. Each tier has its own price, and you save a little bit more on larger orders, ranging from $12-13/bottle. Revel even highlights how much you’re saving, so you don’t have to work it out yourself.
The highest tier, 12 bottles per shipment, also comes with free shipping – saving you an extra $10. The screenshot below displays these different levels.
Curiously, choosing to receive a shipment of organic wines actually lowers the overall cost to a flat $9/bottle. While it’s nice to see an organic option that’s relatively affordable, I thought the pricing structure was a little misleading. If you do the math, you’re paying the same price per bottle whether you get four, six, or 12 bottles in your shipment. Again, it’s not a bad deal, but a little odd. The screenshot here shows what I mean:
Overall, I’d say Revel’s prices are pretty solid for what the service is. An average price of about $12 is right in the sweet spot for an everyday wine: not so expensive that you feel you need to wait for a special occasion, but not so cheap that you question its quality!
In addition to the subscription model, you can order bottles à la carte from Revel’s online store. Pricewise, the range is mostly the same as what you get in your regular shipments, but there are a few more premium bottles here which could be saved for a special occasion.
The least expensive bottles in the online store are in the $10-12 range, on par with the per bottle price of the subscription boxes. There are several options in the $20 range and even a few in the $50+ range. You don’t have to be a subscriber to order from the online shop, but subscribers do get a “club” discount.
Something which makes Revel stand out is that it doesn’t appear to put a threshold on how many bottles you have to buy to place an order. Some other services require you to order in quantities of six or 12 bottles, which can be cost-prohibitive if you just want to try a couple of wines. Being able to place an order for just one or two bottles is a big plus!
The relatively limited selection of wines is Revel’s biggest weakness. Like pretty much every wine delivery service I’ve seen, Revel has a bountiful supply of Cabernet and Chardonnay but beyond that, your options are quite limited.
For example, when I searched for my favorite varietal, Petite Sirah, I was disappointed to find a single, lonely bottle. Other fans of slightly-less-popular wines will, unfortunately, have similar experiences: at the time of this review, the store’s selection included no more than a single bottle of varietals like Malbec, Moscato, and Pinot Gris.
The screenshot below shows the fairly limited selection I found. For fans of popular grapes like the ever-present Cabernet Sauvignon, Revel is not likely to disappoint. Unfortunately, fans of Merlot, Syrah, and many other varietals may want to look elsewhere for their wine delivery.
Another downside to Revel’s streamlined site construction is the lack of any sort of review or rating system. This isn’t an issue for those of us who simply want a surprise box of wines every month or two, but it makes it difficult to make an informed decision when purchasing a single bottle.
To be fair, you could view this as a plus: after all, just because a bottle of wine doesn’t have great ratings doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t like it. The small selection also means there isn’t much point in reviewing some wines as there’s not much to choose between. For example, I usually try to pick out the best-rated Petite Sirah… At Revel, it was an easy choice because there was just one option!
You’ll also see that the solitary Petite Sirah offering is designated as an “Award Winner,” which brings me to another critique. Though there’s no rating system, Revel does highlight which of its offerings have won awards. Clicking on the wine brings up more information on exactly what honors it has received (see the screenshot below).
I have to be honest here, though: I’ve never paid much attention to “award-winning” designations on wines and spirits because it seems like just about every bottle has some sort of award. Revel’s wines are no exception: as you can see below, the majority of Revel’s offerings have some sort of award. While it’s good that the wines have gotten recognition, it doesn’t make it any easier to pick one out.
A wine subscription alone can be a good gift, but I appreciated the pre-selected offerings under the “Gifts” heading of the store. If I wanted to send some wine as a gift, the Perfectly Pink, Taste of California, and other bundles make it easy to create a thoughtful gift for your wine-drinking friend without committing to a subscription.
There’s also the option to purchase a gift card if you’re not sure what bottles to choose.
Here’s a quick summary of Revel’s pricing and who it’s best for:
From $9 per bottle
Someone who likes popular varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, and people who don’t mind not being able to swap out bottles in each shipment
$10 or free with shipments of 12 bottles
Revel’s shipping process, like the rest of the service, is pretty straightforward. On the checkout screen, you’re given a reminder that someone over the age of 21 has to be able to sign for the package. It also recommends that you select your place of work as a delivery location since most deliveries are during business hours (this is a common recommendation from wine subscription companies).
The shipping rates are a flat $10 no matter where you are in the contiguous US, but the minimum shipping rate is $35 for Alaska and Hawaii, which increases with the order size. I found it interesting that there was also a $50 option for expedited shipping – a good option to have in case you have to host a gathering on short notice.
Revel uses solid, secure, state-of-the-art packaging in its shipments. This helps ensure that bottles won’t be damaged during shipment. As a bonus, the packing material is made from recyclable cardboard. If anything goes wrong with your shipment, Revel also offers a 30-day window for you to report issues and get them resolved.
As with pretty much all alcohol delivery companies, Revel has restrictions on which states it can deliver to. If you live in one of these states, you’re probably used to not being able to have alcohol delivered. If you’re unsure, however, Revel makes it clear which 15 states restrict alcohol delivery:
Revel can’t deliver to these 15 states: AL, AR, DE, IN, KY, LA, MS, NJ, ND, OK, RI, SC, UT, WV, WY
Revel offers several customer service channels, so you have options whether you’re more comfortable on the phone or in writing. The easiest methods are via Revel’s email address or by filling out a contact form on the website. The company’s preferred method, however, seems to be via the phone.
It’s good that Revel offers a few different avenues of contact, but I can’t help but feel the whole setup is a little old-fashioned. Revel’s phone number is easier to find than its email address, and there’s no live chat option at all. If you don’t mind calling the number whenever you have a question or concern, then this isn’t much of an issue at all.
Image: Revel’s membership cancellation instructions.
One of my biggest complaints about Revel is the dated cancellation process. The only way to cancel your Revel subscription is by calling directly. On the plus side, there’s no cancellation fee or any other penalty. In this day and age, though, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to cancel online.
By forcing you to call, Revel is also implying that you’ll have to explain your reason for canceling. This adds another unnecessary barrier to an already over-complicated process. If you decide to subscribe to Revel, be aware of the steps you’ll have to take if you eventually decide to cancel.
Bright Cellars is a well-known wine subscription service, and it may prove to be a more comprehensive experience than Revel. Discover the real perks of this service in our Bright Cellars review. Bright Cellars provides a wine quiz to pick out your preferred tasting notes to offer optimum matches. From there, it’s a quick and easy process to check out.
Bright Cellars also seems to have a much broader selection of unique wines from around the world, and the overall experience feels much more tailored to your individual preferences. These additional perks, however, come at a higher price: $80 for four bottles before tax and shipping.
With an average price of about $15 per bottle, Firstleaf is a good choice for those of you who may be impressed with Revel’s low prices but would prefer a slightly broader variety of wine options.
As an added bonus, Firstleaf typically offers quite a steep discount on your first order, so you can try out the service for as little as $7/bottle. You can learn more about how Firstleaf works in our expert review.
Revel is perfect for those of us who don’t want to save our wine for special occasions. The service’s biggest selling points are its reasonable prices and its selection of organic and sulfite-free wines. If you enjoy a glass or two on weeknights, then Revel fits right in the sweet spot of quality versus affordability.
However, Revel is not without its issues. For me, the biggest complaint is that unique varietals are few and far between. Cab Sav and Chardonnay make up the bulk of Revel’s offerings. If you’re just in search of some solid quality daily wines, these crowd-pleasing options may be just the ticket but you’re looking for a wine box to introduce you to new and exciting wines, then Revel may not be the best fit for you.
Wine club costs can vary a lot based on the size of your shipments, whether you can buy individual bottles, and how frequently your shipments come. Revel is easily near the lower end of the cost spectrum, with subscription prices as low as $12/bottle.
Wine clubs can be an excellent way to get good deals on high-quality and wines which you won’t easily find in stores. Thanks to exclusive deals with vineyards across the world, many wine clubs are able to provide unique and high-quality wines at a much lowe price than what you may find in your local wine store.
For people who enjoy wine and drink it on a regular basis, wine clubs like Revel are a perfect way to get bulk deals on wine by subscribing for regular shipments. So not only are you saving money, you are also saving yourself the time and effort of going to the store and picking out your wines one by one.
The beautiful thing about wine clubs is that each one has a slightly different approach to the business model. The best wine club for you depends on your personal preferences.
Do you want a selection of inexpensive, crowd-pleasing wines to drink on weekdays? If so, then Revel may be a good choice for you. If you’re more interested in higher-end wines from diverse regions, then Bright Cellars could be just the ticket. Or, if you’d rather have total control over which wines you order and when, Naked Wines could be the right fit for you. These are just three examples of the many diverse wine clubs out there!
Revel Wine’s model allows you to pick between four-, six-, and 12-bottle shipments. The more bottles you order per shipment, the less expensive your per-bottle price becomes. For example, a 12-bottle shipment is $144 or $12/bottle with shipping included. A four-bottle shipment will cost you $52, or $13/bottle plus a flat fee of $10 for shipping.