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“Our panel of experts:” Irony and non-winery wine clubs

wine club expertsThird-party wine clubs — those that aren’t part of wineries — have always made the Wine Curmudgeon smile. How about the the website that rates wine clubs, and that also rates the wine clubs that the site operates? Or the wine club that offers “first-class” cabernet sauvignon from Spain, a concept that makes as much sense as coming here to find cult wine recommendations from Napa Valley.

Typically, most third-party wine clubs don’t tell you the wines you’re going to get or how they pick the wines you’re going to get. They trade on the group’s name, but are otherwise separate; hence a  newspaper wine club is a marketing tool that has nothing to do with the newspaper’s wine reporting. Mostly, there’s flowery language — “small-batch wines of real flair and value,” which means absolutely nothing when you try to parse it — and lots of promises about how good the wines are. Plus tasting notes, because all wine needs tasting notes, doesn’t it?

Which makes me wonder: Most of us wouldn’t buy shoes this way, sight unseen and trusting to someone else’s judgement. So why would we buy wine this way?

My newest smile is Global Wine Company, which runs the New York Times and Washington Post wine clubs plus those for retailer Williams-Sonoma, More and Food & Wine magazines, and celebrity chef Michael Mina. Check out the people who run the company — accountants and bankers, and a woman who helped make the PowerBar famous. There is no mention of the “panel of experts” who pick the wines, and about the only wine-related information I could find was this: “GWC handles all global wine sourcing, state compliance, and customer fulfillment, which enable partners to expand their brands into wine and drive recurring revenue.”

Mmmm, drive recurring revenue. How yummy does that sound?

3 Responses to “Our panel of experts:” Irony and non-winery wine clubs

  1. deanna@globalwineco.com' Deanna Moen says:

    Hello Jeff. I am writing from Global Wine Company and wanted to respond in regards to your view of third-party wine clubs and our panel of experts. We have an amazing team of talented wine professionals selecting the wines for our clubs. Please revisit our website to learn about the background of our wine team – http://www.globalwineco.com. Click on Our Team and then Wine Team.

    As you can see, we have a Master of Wine leading our team, which also includes a Certified Sommelier and Certified Wine Educator who is currently enrolled in the Master of Wine program, a 2012 FOOD & WINE Magazine Sommelier of the Year and former Food & Beverage Director for celebrity chef Cindy Pawlcyn’s award-winning restaurant group, and an eight time California Wine Tasting Champion and the first Sommelier of the famed Masa’s restaurant. And while it is true that I “helped make PowerBar famous,” I also led marketing for the luxury brands at Treasury Wine Estates, including Stags’ Leap Winery and Etude Vineyards, and I earned certifications from the Court of Master Sommeliers and WSET before joining Global Wine Company.

    Our dedication to quality is evident in our wine selection process. Our team travels the world to international wine fairs in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, South America and beyond and sources the best wine from over 13 countries. We taste over 11,000 wines a year with just a small percentage actually chosen for our clubs. We take pride in carefully selecting genuine wines from established wineries worldwide, each with its own unique story. We do not use bulk wine or after-market retreads with self created labels. Instead, we focus on limited production wines from boutique wineries that offer both quality and value. We are confident in the enjoyable wine experience we are providing our club members.

    I would love to change your mind about third-party wine clubs and offer you a free introductory shipment from one of ours. Each club has its own personality with wines tailored for the members. You can even choose the club.

    Best,

    Deanna Moen

  2. wblakegray@gmail.com' Blake Gray says:

    Deanna, what percentage of your wines are private labels made specifically for you?

  3. deanna@globalwineco.com' Deanna Moen says:

    Hello Blake. We do not offer any private label wines – those that are blended for a retailer under “fantasy” brands distinct from the winery’s own label. Instead, we seek out small wineries and passionate vintners producing wines with unique stories and craftsmanship. However, we do offer some wines that are exclusive to our Wine Clubs in the US: our tasting team attends numerous international wine fairs and knocks on the doors of vignerons in person across Europe and the southern hemisphere. They find incredible wines made by small and often family-run wineries that do not have distribution in the US. We are often the sole importer of these wines and are therefore able to offer them to our club members exclusively. Again, every one of our wines has a genuine story and is traceable to authentic people and actual vineyards.

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