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Club W… Wine As It Should Be

When you think of a wine tasting class or a club for wine aficionados, you probably imagine a group of uppity types in smoking jackets and ascots or corduroy coats an horn-rimmed glasses, all swirling their Merlots or Chardonnays, sniffing their wine, and sipping delicately before describing the flavor in as authoritative and condescending a manner as possible, taking any advantage to use terms like “legs,” “body,” “nose,” and “aftertaste.” If you enjoy a glass (or two or three) of vino but dread the notion of signing up for a tasting class, then you’ve likely wondered how you can expand your knowledge base and discover the types of wine that best suit your palate. Sure, you can learn the basic wine categorizations with the help of a few books and some careful online research (this Primer Magazine piece is an excellent resource for those unfamiliar with the wine world), but there’s nothing like on-the-job training. In other words: the only way to find out whether you prefer dry red wines with strong tannins or fruity and sweet whites is to try the full range of options. But, of course, venturing into a liquor store lined with bottles is likely to leave you frustrated and discouraged so, to guide you through the wine purchasing process, you can count on Club W (http://www.clubw.com), an online “club” developed by a team of curators that includes sommeliers, food and wine writers, restaurateurs, and winemakers.

Perhaps the best way to think of Club W is as a Netflix for wine enthusiasts. By becoming a member, you’ll pay a monthly fee of $39 and, in return, you’ll be shipped 3 bottles of wine per month (shipping is free so there are no hidden costs or fees). Each month, you can choose from 12 new bottles handpicked by Club W’s team of curators. If you enjoy a particular wine, you’re welcome to order it again the following month (provided it’s still in stock) or you can experiment with one of the lesser known wines.

True novices can get some initial recommendations by answering some quick questions that will help to create a palate profile, thereby facilitating the introduction of wines that fit the taste characteristics determined during the multiple choice test. And, of course, as you taste more wines and offer your feedback, the suggestions offered will prove more accurate.

Now, considering you’ll be getting three bottles of wine a month for $39 (or $13 each), it should go without saying that you won’t be savoring rare vintage finds from the private vaults of enthusiastic collectors but, rather, more moderately priced options dating back anywhere from 1 to 5 years. Still, you should expect them to be a refreshing change from the Barefoot Wine, Yellow Tail, and Bonny Doon bottles you likely encounter on nearly every visit to a liquor store. Among the offerings, then, you’ll find lesser-known brands from all over the world (Germany, Australia, Spain, California, Oregon, Washington, Italy, and France), brands like Seeing White, Love Drunk, Raw Power, Yard Dogs, and Vega Murillo that, despite having a lower profile, boast a rich flavor and scent. Each wine is described in great detail — from the type of wine (Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, etc.) to the year in which the grapes were harvested, its signature scent, its composition in terms of fruitiness or oakiness, and even the best foods to pair with it.

If you don’t want to splurge on a wine only to find you detest its flavor or you’re tired of ordering the same thing over and over, Club W will allow you to expand your horizons — all without having to deal with any know-it-all snobby types.

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