There are many ways to make that quarantine life more bearable. Learning a skill, improving your cooking repertoire, or getting fit are all possible options, but sometimes you just want to sit down with a large glass or two of something red and robust.
As we travelers are kept in one spot, winetasting offers a vicarious spin round the globe. We open a bottle of sangiovese and we’re transported to rolling Tuscan hills. Plump for rioja and it’s a little further west, perhaps reliving an evening of pinxtos in a Bilbao bar.
Whatever your travel memory/varietal pairing, these delivery services all specialize in international wines. So don’t just rely on Amazon or Total Wine—give one of these places a try. They’re all fairly flexible with their commitment.
For adventurous drinkers who don’t judge a bottle by its label
Join Now: Monthly shipments include 4, 6, or 12 bottles and the price per bottle can be set at $17, $23, $29, or $39. Cancel at any time). palateclub.com
This San Francisco–based wine club has a fun approach to getting you into new wines. New subscribers can order a blind tasting kit, featuring four half bottles of red or white wines, and then, using an app, rate those wines to create your own “Palate Profile” (you can just complete a quiz instead). Then the company, which has sommeliers trawling the world’s wine regions and only picking their favorite 5 percent, apparently, will ship bottles tailored to your taste monthly.
I indicated that I prefer full-bodied European wines with earthy notes, and the algorithm served up some interesting tempranillos and a classic grenache/syrah/mouvedre blend.
For those who like to pair their wines with a meal
Join Now: A three-bottle membership costs $49 per box ($39 for the first) while six bottles are $79 ($54 for the first). wineawesomeness.com
Wine Awesomeness sends out regular three- or six-bottle packs along with a copy of The Black Label, its in-house magazine full of tasting notes and recipes. Shipments are red, white, or mixed and include what Wine Enthusiast deems “deliciously obscure varieties” from South America, Europe, and beyond.
For those who can stop at just a glass
Join now: Nine wines, by the glass, every three months at $79 ($72, if paid annually). Membership renews every three months. vinebox.com
Vinebox sends subscribers nine glass-sized pours of wine beautifully packaged in thin jars and thematically grouped per shipment. Recent deliveries have included its “vineyard fresh” and “vintaged reds” selections. The sold-out “hidden gems” pack featured a range of underappreciated French and Italian varietals including braucol, mauzac, cortese, and trebbiano.
For those who prefer a very specific flavor profile
Join Now: My sample box came to $94 for four bottles, with tax and shipping. A new selection is sent every month and you can cancel any time. brightcellars.com
Which one type of chocolate would you eat for the rest of your life? How do you take your iced tea? These are some of the things you’ll need to consider as you fill out Bright Cellars’ profile form.
After I made my choices, I was presented with several interesting picks, including an Australian shiraz with blackberry and eucalyptus notes, along with a fairly stressful 10-minute countdown clock urging me to check out and purchase the first four wines that matched my experience.
For those who don’t need dozens of bottles cluttering their kitchen
Join Now: The adventurer’s wine box costs $59 or $79 for two or three bottles. vinelymarket.com
Each month, the female-run Vinely Market ships out two or three bottles that “best represent their land of origin,” with cute little tasting cards.
As Vinely has it: “No grocery store, mass-produced wines. Just the good stuff from boutique winemakers from around the world.” What sort of wine exactly? It has recently been shouting about Petra winery on the Tuscan coast and natural, organic reds from Sicily on its Instagram.
For globe-trotting wine lovers stuck at home who just want someone else to make the decision
Join Now: The 12-bottle quarterly shipment (of mixed whites and reds) comes in at $219. cellarswineclub.com
Cellars actually offers a number of wine clubs, including a single bottle club for those who don’t want multiple wines at once, but the best bet for drinkers who want to travel the world in a glass is its import selection. It includes two bottles from a different part of the world each month. Or you can order in 12 per quarter.
For those who like to adjust their selections
Join Now: Once you take the test, the company will send six mini bottles for $10. After you rate them, it will send a 12-bottle shipment for $149. tastingroom.com
Tasting Room sources wine from 10 regions globally, including South Africa, Argentina, Australia, and Italy among other hot spots, but ships in bulk cargo tanks and bottles within the United States. It promises lower prices than traditional retailers, and lets you rate the wines to improve your selections over time.
Other wine delivery options
If you’re after a couple of bottles of wine in a hurry, try Drizly or Saucey, which are both like the Instacart of wine, connecting drinkers to sellers and delivering bottles within hours, if not minutes.
There are also many, many local wine retailers offering reduced delivery fees and curbside pickup. I use Hi-Lo in Los Angeles, but give your local independent shop a call. Others, including America’s oldest wine shop, Acker Wines, in New York, are doing virtual tastings. Join them on Zoom on Mondays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET and Fridays at 12.30 p.m. ET. Check its Facebook page for details and themes and the links.
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