Wine Insiders is an online wine shop and wine club that caters to every kind of wine drinker, from amateurs like me to seasoned oenophiles.
Flexible and no-obligation club membership
Good selection of exclusive and award-winning wines, with collections from some well-known faces
A hefty discount on your first shipment, and bonus inclusions on selected purchases
100% customer satisfaction guarantee
Minimum order limit of three bottles
Some information not easy to spot on its product pages
No vintage options – the oldest collection is only as old as 2013
No special packaging for gifts
OK, so you’re here, which means much like the rest of us, you’re looking for a good online wine store or club to restock your supplies.
And let me guess, you've already heard of Wine Insiders because – well, Buzzfeed called it one of "the best places to buy alcohol," Business Insider included it in its list of "best wine subscriptions," and several other media outlets including Forbes, Refinery29, and Cosmopolitan have featured it. Don’t worry, I get your curiosity. After all, I was curious too!
For the uninitiated though, Wine Insiders is an online wine store and wine club that’s known for its affordable prices, extensive selection, and celebrity curations by Martha Stewart, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Ludo Lefebvre. With all the buzz surrounding its service, I decided to give it a try and see if it really lived up to the hype.
Is it really as perfect as we are made to believe? Let's find out!
Below are all the details you need to decide if Wine Insiders is worth your time and money. Consider this your go-to guide (you can thank me later).
This is pretty straightforward. There aren't multiple plans to confuse you – there’s simply one club membership program where you’ll receive a case of 12 bottles for $155 every 12 weeks, six times a year.
When I first read that, I was confused by the math but then I reached out to the company for clarification and here's what I found: in addition to the four quarterly shipments, there are two extra shipments, one in the summer and one in the winter.
The membership comes with a pretty good discount on your first order, alongside some bonus inclusions in your first and second shipment. To tempt you to sign up, the first shipment will cost $89, and not $155.
In addition, you’ll get three complimentary bottles of Wine Insiders’ premium Bordeaux Blend, 2019 Leo by Leo Bordeaux Supérieur. Apart from these three bottles, you won't find any duplicates in the 12-bottle case, which is impressive.
The wines included in the shipment are exclusive to Wine Insiders, as the website claims. For example, the 2017 George Phillips Cellars Reserve Selection No. 39 Lodi Zinfandel that’s included in its current case was nowhere to be found online. Trust me, I tried my best.
Talking of exclusivity and bonus gifts, your second shipment will include a complimentary Connoisseur’s Deluxe 7-Piece Lever Pull Corkscrew Set. I haven't received it yet, so I can't comment on the quality, but it does look pretty fancy in the picture. I couldn't find the same one anywhere else online so it might be a Wine Insiders exclusive, which the company says is priced at $59.95.
Your shipment will also include details of the varietals, producers, and regions, as well as comprehensive tasting notes, serving tips, and food pairing suggestions.
The best thing about the membership, however, is that it’s flexible so you can skip any shipment. There’s also no commitment, so you can cancel whenever.
Moving on to the Sign Up process, much like the membership program itself, this is pretty simple. You first state your preferences (whether you want a red-only case, white-only case, or a mixed case), and a list of bottles included in your upcoming shipment will be shown to you. I went with the mixed case.
Then you create an account by providing your email and name, and entering a password.
Next, enter your billing information. Wine Insiders accepts both credit card and PayPal payments.
And lastly, select if you want it delivered or if you want to pick it up from one of its nearby partnered locations. While the company does recommend pickups where possible, there are no pickup locations in Kansas, where I am, so I had to opt for delivery.
Thankfully, delivery is free anyway and I was happy I didn’t have to get out of my PJs for a pickup. I wouldn't have been so happy if I was forced to pay a delivery charge...
I have to admit, Wine Insiders is living up to its promise of making affordable wine accessible to all. Its club membership is the best deal you'll find on the website, at $5.93 per bottle in your first case, and $12.91 per bottle from your second case onwards. There is no additional membership cost.
The store prices aren't scary either though. The general price range is $10 to $30. However, you'll find that the majority of the wines fall into the $15 to $20 bracket. There’s also an Under $10 filter and a $30+ filter but you'll find very few options for these, if any.
This is the part that wine-lovers, connoisseur or not, will enjoy the most. Wine Insiders has among the largest online selection I've seen. You'll find your reds, whites, rosés, dessert, and sparkling wines, as well as organic, low-sulfite, and vegan wines.
You'll also find popular varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Wine Insiders also has connoisseur favorites like Gamay, Tempranillo, and Falanghina. There’s a total of 49 varietals (the type of grape) to filter your selection.
Then there are your magnum bottles and two- and three-bottle sets. The Poggio Manfredi Toscana Rosso IGT. Magnum Duo is on my wish list. I might have to sit out a while to convince my partner I'm not a raging shopaholic though...
I was also impressed by the many award-winning wines available. Look out for these, alongside those tagged as Customer Favorite and those from the Martha Stewart Wine Co.
While its Martha Stewart collaboration is, by far, the most popular, there are two other celebrity curations – one by chef, restaurateur, and author Geoffrey Zakarian, and French chef, restaurateur, author, and TV personality Ludo Lefebvre.
From Wine Insiders’ customer favorites, I picked three of its top-rated wines under $20 – a red, rosé, and white.
2019 Champbeaux Grande Réserve Marselan
Bocciamatta Sparkling Rosé
Calvari Organic White Blend
Sending a gift from Wine Insiders is exactly the same as buying it for yourself. The only additional step is to select a checkbox to state it's a gift at the time of checkout. You’ll need to add the name and age of the receiver, and you can also opt for an additional receipt for the receiver, if you wish.
While you'll find several gift-worthy bottles and sets, the packaging is only going to be a standard Wine Insiders cardboard box, something I thought the company could improve on. The only exception is the Fireside Cabs Wood Crate Set of four different bottles priced at $100. As the name suggests, these bottles arrive in a classy and sturdy wooden crate.
Here’s a quick summary of Wine Insiders’ pricing and who it’s best suited to:
From $9.99 per bottle on non-club shipments;
From $5.93 per bottle on your first club shipment and $12.91 thereafter
Anyone looking for affordable wines, and for people who love to experiment with new, exclusive wines
Free on club shipments and purchases of more than 6 bottles;
$14.95 for 3-5 bottles
Wine Insiders wines arrive in a branded, recyclable cardboard box with cardboard inserts for orders of six bottles or less. The 12-bottle case, however, uses recyclable cartons holding the bottles in place.
There are no delivery charges for any of the shipments received in the club membership program. However, when placing individual orders, the delivery fee is $14.95 for 3-5 bottles, and free on orders of six bottles or more.
You can also arrange a pickup to avoid that charge, if applicable, provided the company has a pickup location nearby.
For non-membership deliveries, the website states they will arrive within 1-3 business days. I didn’t order a la carte, so had no way of confirming this.
Wine Insiders delivers to most US states but not all. The states excluded are Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Mississippi, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Utah.
Wine Insiders offers four ways of communication – chatbot, live chat, email, and phone. I found the chatbot to be the least helpful. It only gives you two options that will either direct you to the FAQ page or prompt you to sign in to your account.
I had a query about the membership program (remember the math confusion?) so I reached out to the company via email. It took a long time for someone to respond, so I'm guessing email isn't the fastest way to reach out either.
Its live chat, on the other hand, was very quick and helpful. I received an answer within a couple of minutes.
This might be a good time to point out that though the website claims the live chat will be operational from 9 am to 6.30 pm EST, Monday through Friday, the live chat wasn't operational from 5 pm EST onwards.
I didn’t try calling customer support, but given the quick response on the live chat, my guess is that the phone team would be just as good. All the contact information can be found at the very end of the FAQ page – though it might take a couple of seconds before you spot what you’re looking for.
There are two ways to cancel your Wine Insiders subscription – an easy way and an even easier way. Firstly, give the customer service team a call during the hours of operation (9 am to 8 pm EST, seven days a week) and they'll do it for you on the spot.
The easier way is to log in on the website, go to My Account and cancel your subscription from there at any time.
For order cancellations, you'll have to reach out to the team to do this for you.
It took a while for me to come up with alternatives for Wine Insiders for three reasons – firstly, no other company appears to house a selection as vast. Secondly, nobody offers prices as low. And finally, no other companies have such an accessible store – for many wine clubs, it’s more about the membership. After some extensive research, the two that came close were Winc and Firstleaf.
While both Winc and Firstleaf come close, they can’t quite beat Wine Insiders when it comes to pricing. Winc's lowest-priced bottle stands at $12.99 for members, and $14.99 for non-members.
Firstleaf’s starting price, meanwhile, is $13.
Neither has a selection as large as Wine Insiders either, but you will find all the popular varieties.
The two do have an upper hand over Wine Insiders for one very crucial difference, however. Winc and Firstleaf allow you to order a single bottle, irrespective of whether you’re a member. There is, of course, a shipping fee. For Winc, it’s $15 for all non-members and member orders of less than four bottles. For Firstleaf, a flat fee of $9.95 is levied unless you buy 12 bottles or more.
Moving on to the club memberships, Winc doesn’t have a club but it does have a membership program where you pay $59.95 per month and can use it as store credit. Members also enjoy lower prices and free shipping, as we describe in our expert Winc review.
As for Firstleaf’s wine club, it’s slightly more expensive but offers more flexibility. So, after your first case of six (which is a $39.95 post-discount and free shipping), you’ll pay $79.98 plus $9.95 shipping per case of six. The handy thing is, you can decide when and how often you want to receive your wine – see all the options in our dedicated Firstleaf review.
I wouldn't say that Wine Insiders is the best wine club around because there is some room for improvement.
For example, it could allow customers to order just one or two bottles, and it could improve its online store with more information, like Winc does with its How To Serve and Pairs Well With tips. Wine Insiders does give you food pairings, but that information is buried in the description somewhere and you have to carefully scroll through to spot it. And there are no serving hints whatsoever. For that, you'll have to go all the way to its Wine 101 section.
Apart from these minor drawbacks though, I found nothing to complain about. The prices are competitive, the selection is great, the website is easy to browse through – all in all, a great one-stop-shop for wine-lovers of all calibers.
For one-off orders, Wine Insiders takes one business day to process the order and three to five business days for delivery. For club membership shipments, the products are delivered once every 12 weeks, or thereabouts.
Wine Insiders ships from Northern California, Missouri, and New York.
The general price range from Wine Insiders is $10 to $30 with a majority of its selection falling in the $15 to $20 range.
Wine Insiders has two options – its online wine shop and the Wine Insiders Club. To purchase from the store, you do not need to subscribe. You can buy three or more bottles at any time. For the Club, you pay $89 for 15 bottles in your first shipment, then $155 for every shipment of 12 bottles thereafter. In total, there are six shipments sent throughout the year. You can skip a shipment or cancel the subscription at any time.