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A personalized wine program powered by the innovative technology and impressive teams from Tasting Room and Lot18. Our new favorite wine club.
Everything? No, seriously, we love that they found a way to distinguish themselves from the other "personalized wine clubs" out there. We love the pricing, we love the delivery model, and we're pretty sure we're going to love the wines... since they're picked just for us.
Make a gift option! We used to love to give the sampler + two bottle Tasting Room gift and would happily give this program instead.
Confused by the name of this club? No worries, check out what we have to say about the happy marriage of Tasting Room and Lot18. In short: We used to recommend the old Tasting Room wine club, hands down, as the best and most fun wine club out there. We were SO sad when it disappeared in late 2012, but we are excited that it has come back, better than ever, and powered by the Lot18 team.
We think Tasting Room by Lot18 is THE wine club to join. You can stop reading here if you want, because we're just going to wax poetic on WHY it's so awesome as we continue to tell you to join THIS wine club.
Public Service Announcement: There isn't a gift option yet, so if you're not buying for yourself, you might want to check out our Wine Club Gifts page. And then come back here and join the Tasting Room by Lot 18 wine club for yourself!
To be honest, we're always pretty skeptical of any company that thinks it can apply technology to figure out which wines any person will like. Maybe it's easier when your wine preferences are somewhat limited—like my husband's unmitigated delight in a big red Central Coast fruit-bomb—as opposed to my own enjoyment of nearly all wine regions and varietals, as long as the wine was well made and is well-balanced. I rarely see an answer choice for “What kinds of wine do you like?” that suits my tastes, so how could they deliver something they're sure I'll like?
In fairness, we don't think most people who work in wine stores do much better. It all depends on a customer's ability to explain what he or she likes, and see how that matches up with a salesperson's knowledge of their inventory. That is a lot of subjective variability on which to make an accurate recommendation.
In contrast, most wine clubs tend to focus on wines that will please most people. This means that many of the wines chosen for wine club shipments are sort of run-of-the-mill and of decent quality (sometimes excellent), but maybe not suited to adventurous or picky wine-drinkers.
Tasting Room by Lot18 is not the first personalized wine delivery program to the market, but they seem to have the most promise. Their big differentiator is that sampler kit they send out to get to know your preferences—rather than just asking you to remember what you like from the last time you might have tried it. They have an exclusive on this feature, as Tasting Room invented it, and Lot18 doesn't have to share it with any other wine club.
The big idea with a personalized wine-shipment program is this: Buying wine can be scary, intimidating, and risky. Unless you're a sommelier. But most of us aren't professionally trained wine tasters. A lot of people, like my husband and I, love to taste and buy wine in tasting rooms, because we know exactly what we're buying, and it's a personalized selection because we picked it. But we live in Southern California and weekend wine-tasting trips are easy for us. If you live in Nebraska, well, that's going to make wine tasting at a winery just a smidge harder.
Cracking the code of great wine recommendations is the dream of every entrepreneur who loves wine. We've talked to chefs, somms, wine geeks, wine bloggers, and experienced entrepreneurs who have thought about it, tried it, or want to try it. We always have the same response... we thought about it, too! But it just seems like such a hard problem to solve. So many variables to consider—everyone's tastes are different, the same wines differ from vintage to vintage, most people can't explain what it is they like about a wine, and a lot of people don't want to try.
Their clever logo really drives home the point of the brand. Each person has a unique fingerprint that identifies them as different from everyone else. Our taste buds (and therefore wine preferences) are as distinctive as our fingerprints, so their WinePrint™ program aims to establish what makes you distinct as a wine drinker. The best part? They make it easy for you!
Tasting Room.com features a simple, step-by-step rating system custom-designed to capture the nuances of your wine
likes and dislikes. Once you’ve rated your wine samplers, our patent-pending WinePrint™ technology processes your
ratings and applies a precise algorithm to generate your Wine Profile – a detailed but easy-to-understand explanation
of the types of wine that match your profile and are perfect for your palate. Every three months, we provide
stress-free automatic shipping of a heavily discounted case of wines that our WinePrint™ technology compiles for
you based on your profile—no store to drive to, phone calls to make or forms to submit.
Keep rating the wines as you drink them, and our WinePrint™ technology will continue refining its selections to ensure you get only the wines you love. You’ll always enjoy substantial savings by paying a flat rate for each case of wine – no hidden fees. You get the right wine, every time, for one low price, for as long as you like. It’s wine buying simplified, personalized and perfected.
See all the benefits of joining Tasting Room by Lot18.
We think Tasting Room by Lot18 has a really good chance of solving this problem reasonably well (we'd be impressed with 92% accuracy—11 out of 12 bottles are hit). Also, they offer a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, offering replacement or full credit toward future purchases.
We happily participated in the semi-exclusive Beta Taste Test for Tasting Room by Lot18, where we were able to experience what you will. The carousel of value propositions (a.k.a. Why you want to sign up for the Tasting Room by Lot18 wine “club”) is a little dizzying, both in speed and in information, BUT they do an excellent job of breaking down how the club works—something that the TR folks regrettably found challenging with their own wine club. The TR wine club was declared by Gary Vee (Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library fame) to be the coolest wine club out there (and he has his own wine club!).
So what is it you get?
When you sign up on the site you pay $9.95 to get the six mini-bottle sampler set sent to you. (These samplers used to cost $30-49 at the old Tasting Room.com.) The sampler comes with a rating card so you can take notes as you go on a little wine adventure at home. The checkout process was easy and we love that they actually tell you what you'll get in the future, too (some of the bigger wine clubs hide the ball on future costs of membership and just lure you in with their too-good-to-be-true introductory offers).
They say it only takes 10 minutes to taste the wines... but why not enjoy it? Set aside 15-20 minutes (30 is best) and share the experience with your favorite wine friend/spouse/coworker.
Overall: We love it. We're looking forward to our next shipment. Highlights include:
You rate your sampler wines by following the simple instructions on the Tasting Room site, tasting the wines in pairs, against each other. You can even tell the site that you liked both wines or disliked both—your preferences help WinePrint™ to figure out your profile and pull together your first personalized case of wine. You'll pay $84.49 (shipping is included). Yes, that's just $7 a bottle, including shipping costs but excluding sales tax.
Then, if you think they've nailed your tastes, or at least they're close enough that you're excited to receive more personalized wine shipments, you'll pay $149.99 + $19.99 shipping for future cases of wine, delivered on a quarterly basis.
This pricing is dead-on for competition with some of the bigger
“quarterly case clubs”
and you are virtually guaranteed to prefer the wines you get from Lot18 to the wines you'd get from those other wine clubs.
Compare Tasting Room by Lot18, WSJ Wine, and New York Times wine clubs.
Each subsequent case should have better and better selections, as you will keep rating the wines they send. Eventually you might love every wine they send you... and THAT is how you make the most of your wine budget!
The Tasting Room team has put together a program that addresses many common customer complaints regarding other wine clubs. One that we love is that they tell you when the wine is going to be shipped. Receiving packages can be a hassle and you don't want wine sitting outside your front door, where it might go bad or get stolen.
We also like that their website is totally self-serve. I don't always have time in the middle of the day to call customer service, so now I can manage my account online any time it's convenient for me... it seems like we shouldn't be so excited about the promise of the Internet in 2013, but nonetheless, very few wine clubs offer this kind of convenience.
I am married and typically share my wine with my husband. His wine tastes are different than mine. I'd like for us to have some kind of "couples" version of this experience. Stat.
The experience of this wine club is so much fun, I want to give it as a gift to my friends who might enjoy expanding their wine preferences. I'd like a gift option (sampler + first shipment? first two shipments?).
Last Updated: 3/28/2013