Lately, every item I’ve ordered online seems to arrive in a box stuffed with a $100 voucher to Naked Wines, a creative new kind of online wine retailer. I like a nice glass of red (or hey, even a cheap glass of red), so I thought I’d try it out. Because $100 in free wines seems like a great deal, right?
Well, here’s the skinny on what Naked Wines is, how it’s different from a classic “wine club,” and what exactly you’re getting into when you use that voucher from Naked Wines. Because while it may be right for you, of course there’s a little more to the story than just $100 in free wine.
Naked Wines: How it Works
Naked Wines is not a wine club. Essentially it’s like a Kickstarter or a Kiva for indie and up-and-coming winemakers, giving you access to hundreds of independent wines — including some exclusive bottles and cases — at a discounted price, all with a money-back guarantee.
You support them with purchases and membership fees, and in return, get…well, wines! Often at big savings.
The global assortment of independent winemakers represented by Naked Wines are evidently folks who have come from big labels like Beringer, Coppola, Mumm, and Baron de Rothschild, who are now striking out on their own; and a part of the appeal of Naked Wines is the ability to support these up-and-comers. That’s something we all like around here.
There’s a cleverness to the service, with themed 6-bottle bundles and 12-bottle cases ranging from a Carnivore-Lovers’ Red Wine case to the Hakuna Moscato case, with 6 sweet white wines. There are bundles organized by country of origin or even a bundle you can order with mixed bottles of white that all score a 90+ rating.
Some have limited availability, and this is where you can save big with discounts from $25 to $130 off if you’re an Angel, which is their membership-only loyalty program. Presumably as in, Angel investor, because your membership is helping to support small vineyards and labels.
I’ll get to more detail on that below.
The service is also designed to try and anticipate what you’ll like, Netflix style, so you’re expected to rate your purchases on your Naked Me (ha, I know) profile. And there’s lots of info about the winemakers in what seems to be an authentic appreciation for who they are and what they’re trying to achieve. Almost like when Etsy features one of their top makers.
Naked Wines: Are the wines actually good?
Our resident oenophiles around here are impressed by the labels and the prices. Take for example Karen Birmingham, formerly of sustainable San Joaquin winery LangeTwins. Most of her wines are rated 90 and above by Naked Wine members, and her highly-rated Zinfandel Lodi bottles save you $8 a bottle off the regular $18.99 or $19.99 price tag.
Search the web, and you’ll see that these particular wines of hers (like many on the site) are exclusive to Naked Wine, but that her ratings are fairly consistent on sites like Vivino or Cellar Tracker.
That seems to be more or less the case with a few of the other winemakers on the site that we researched.
So about that $100 voucher…
It turns out that to use that $100 voucher (and you can just use that link if you don’t have a paper voucher), you must enroll with your email address. It’s also likely that there is a minimum spend, like $100 off orders of $200 so it’s unlikely that you’ll just spend zero dollars and get $100 worth of wine.
But as they describe it, We know that trying a new wine can be a scary experience. And we need to earn your trust. So we try to make the first case as affordable as possible.
I would suggest that no matter what, you read the fine print. Because what I didn’t realize is that when I used a voucher, I was somehow enrolled in the Naked Wines loyalty program. (I could have sworn I checked off “do not enroll me” so I don’t know where the glitch happened.) Now as an “Angel,” you do get access to those big discounts mentioned above, as well as a free monthly bottle of wine, but it will cost you $40 a month to your saved credit card.
What great though is that the $40 does sit in a Naked Wines “piggy bank,” so you can spend it on wines in the future. It even rolls over each month. So it’s a fee that does get you something in return.
And I like that it also helps indie wineries fund their businesses upfront, so they can save on expenses like marketing and sales, thereby passing 40-60% discounts onto you.
Another thing to know is that not everyone can legally use that voucher. (Sorry, IN, MA, MI, MO, NC, SD, TX, VT, VA, WV and HI.)
So is a Naked Wines membership worth it?
If you are a wine enthusiast, you like sampling independent wineries from around the world, and you drink enough to make the $40 monthly fee worth your while — and the free delivery you get in most states on orders of $100+ — then this is a great way to support these small business owners while getting a hefty discount for yourself too. and hopefully getting to discover some new favorites in the process.
Just be sure to read the fine print before signing up or giving a credit card number, as with any service, so you understand what you’re signing up for. While you can just buy wines at full price from the site without being a member, it seems that would be missing the point of the service altogether.
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Seeing any products that you’d like us to try out for you before you buy? Let us know!