8 of the best wine subscription services in the UK
There’s a lot to be said for selecting your wines in person, but in the age of Amazon the convenience of having a case of wines delivered to your door on a regular basis is an all too tempting proposition.
Budgets and selections can vary massively, but with so many subscriptions services on offer if can be hard to make meaningful comparisons. Over the following pages, we hope to offer a snapshot of the entry-level services offered by some of the biggest wine merchants in the UK, and the benefits of signing up to their various loyalty plans.
Clearly the selection of wines and quality on offer should be considered, not simply the overall price, depending on what you are prepared to spend. But we hope there will be something to suit the tastes, and wallets, of every wine lover in the following selection of UK-based wine subscription services.
Click through for our pick of some of the best, and what they offer….
Note: Prices and plans correct at time of press, and for ease of comparison reference the the entry-level subscription service available only. Please contact merchants directly for further information.
Founded in 2008, Naked Wine’s “angels” put in £20 each month which is then invested in a wine producer in return for exclusive deals on their wines and wholesale prices. The company’s “angels” collectively support hundreds of independent winemakers across the world. The company was bought by Majestic in 2015.
In a nutshell: Naked Wine is a crowdfunding retailer funded by the investments of its Angels. To become a member all you have to do is invest a minimum of £20 a month to its cause, giving you access to its wines at discounted rates, and exclusive limited editions bottles from small producers the world over. At time of writing, membership was closed, with prospective members asked to sign up to a waiting list.
Financial commitment: Minimum £20 investment each month, plus cost of wines ordered.
Delivery charge: Free for orders over £100, otherwise £4.99.
Starting price for a mixed case of 12: £102 for an ‘Angel price’ mixed.
Overall yearly cost: £240 minimum investment through subscription added to an extra cost of four cases of wine over the course of a year (£168) = £408 total = £8.50 per average bottle.
Based in Norwich, Virgin Wines was founded in 2000 by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, and in 2005 was bought by Direct Wines, and is today overseen by CEO jay Wright. Virgin reported its best Christmas trading season in 2018, thanks in-part to a new-look website and increasing sales of Eastern European varieties. In the four weeks ending 22 December Virgin Wines saw their sales grow 15% year-on-year, turning an overall profit of more than £828,000. Wines sourced from Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania contributed to a 200% increase in revenue, according to Virgin Wines.
In a nutshell: Virgin Wines offers several membership plans, including their Wine Bank membership. For every £5 you put in your account, Virgin will add another £1, while also offering you exclusive access to certain wines.
Financial commitment: Whatever you choose to invest.
Delivery charge: Free for Wine Bank members
Starting price for a mixed case of 12: £95.88 – you can apply your credit to any wines on the website.
Overall yearly cost: £383.52 for 48 bottles (four cases of 12 over the course of a year, with £76 gained back from Virgin, making actual layout £307.52) = £6.40 a bottle average (Note: First introductory case is £59.88, saving another £36 in the first year).
Averys of Bristol
One of the UK’s most historic wine merchants, Averys can trace its history back to 1793, but it was in the 1920s that it became a firly established, thanks to Ronald Avery. He preferred to travel to wine estates to taste the wines with the winemakers, instead of buying from agents. That ethos was continued by Ronald’s son, John Avery, who became the first to import many Australian, Californian wines and New Zealand wines into the UK. Today, the family business is run by John’s daughter, Mimi.
In a nutshell: The Averys Signature Wine Collection offers members a 12-bottle case of wines with a discount on their standard price, along with tasting notes, plus a bonus wine suited to your tastes for free, every quarter.
Financial commitment: £79.22 each quarter, with the option to skip or delay deliveries.
Delivery charge: Standard delivery is £7.99, regardless of how many cases are being sent, or free for orders over £200.
Starting price for a mixed case of 12: £79.22
Overall yearly cost: £316.18 (plus delivery) for 48 (four cases) over the year = £6.58 a bottle average
One of the best-known on the market, Majestic has long served the needs of high-street wine lovers via its nationwide warehouses, but it also has a strong online presence and delivery service via its Wine Concierge.
In a nutshell: Sign up to Majestic’s Wine Concierge service and you will be offered three levels of membership, starting with a standard case at £99, including a free bottle. Wine is delivered every quarter. Added benefits of membership include at least 20% off the regular selling price, plus VIP invitations to tastings and events.
Financial commitment: Min £99 every quarter
Delivery charge: Free on all Wine Concierge cases.
Starting price for a mixed case of 12: £99 (standard case)
Overall yearly cost: £396 for 52 bottles (four cases + 4 bottles free) over the year on a Standard Membership = £7.60 a bottle average.
Based in London, The Vintner is an online wine merchant that offers an ever rotating selection of 100 wines, starting from £7.50 to £90, offering a good range of entry to mid level wines, with some interesting gems.
In a nutshell: To become a member of The Vintner’s Vault Club, all you need to do is set up a £50 regular payment into your account, which will accrue in value and allow you to make your purchases as regularly as you like. There is no fixed delivery or case selection, allowing you to choose your wines personally when required. Being a member will also afford you a 10% discount on all wines, including promotions, and free tickets to its regular tasting events. There is no minimum order restrictions.
Financial commitment: Min £50 regular payment, flexible
Delivery charge: Free delivery on orders over £100, otherwise £10 per order.
Starting price for a mixed case of 12: Bottles start from £7.50, so a basic case of 12 could start from £90.
Overall yearly cost: £360 for 48 bottles (four cases) over the course of a year = £7.50 a bottle average.
Laithwaite’s was founded by Tony Laithwaite in 1969, who has built the business from a single Ford van making trips to France to supply his customers under a railway arch in Windsor to a multi-million pound company, Direct Wines, that includes The Sunday Times Wine Club and has franchises in Hong Kong and India.
In a nutshell: Laithwaite’s offers three levels of membership of its Seasons wine plan, starting from £99 for a case of 12 whites, also offering members the option of swapping wines in the case, or picking the whole selection themselves, with a 10% discount on the usual selling price. Cases are sent quarterly, unless a greater frequency is required.
Financial commitment: From £99.99 every three months.
Delivery charge: Free on your introductory case only, normally £7.99 a case.
Price for a mixed case of 12: £99, but £49.99 for your first case.
Overall yearly cost: £399.96 for 48 bottles (four cases) over the course of a year. = £8.33 a bottle average. (Note, your first case is £49.99, saving £50 in the first year)
Berry Bros. & Rudd
One of London’s most prolific and historic wine merchants, Berry Bros and Rudd offer a wide range of options on fine and rate cases, as well as everyday bottles, selected by its team of expert buyers.
In a nutshell: BBR offers four levels of membership to its wine club, offering members a 12-bottle case of wine every other month. There is no joining fee, and you can skip, swap or add cases as required. Being a member also affords you 10% off at bbr.com and access to the merchant’s programme of tastings and events.
Financial commitment: From £60 a month.
Delivery charge: Free
Starting price for a mixed case of 12: £120 a case based on six cases a year at £60/month.
Overall yearly cost: £720 for 6 cases of 12 (72 bottles) over the course of a year = £10 a bottle average
The Wine Society
One of the best known and beloved wine retailers in the UK, The Wine Society artfully flits between fine wines and everyday classics, making it one of the best all round services available. As a bonus, this week the retailer announced plans to give away 21 ‘golden tickets’ in the form of bottles of wine worth £200 in its orders throughout March. Running from 1-29 March, 21 lucky customers will have a fine wine from “the cream of Burgundy, Bordeaux and the Rhône as well as the best of the New World”, slipped into their order, completely free. The offer also applies to those customers who have already placed orders that have a March delivery date.
In a nutshell: The Wine Society offers several monthly wine subscription plans, with no minimum order (see below for minimum for free delivery) on its wider range, allowing customers to mix and match cases on a wide range of wines. To buy wines, either on an ad hoc basis or to sign up to a subscription service, you must be a member.
Financial commitment: One-off £40 membership charge (with £20 off first order) then from £85 a month on the Wines Without Fuss plan, however members can change, skip or cancel deliveries at any time.
Delivery charge: Free on orders of 12 bottles or more, or £75+ (for all members, subscription or otherwise)
Starting price for a mixed case of 12: £85 (Wines Without Fuss Plan), or from £75 on select promotional cases.
Overall yearly cost: £340 if ordering 48 bottles over the year (four cases) on the basic Wines without Fuss plan = £7.50 a bottle average