Whenever subscription services launch aggressive marketing campaigns, I see them everywhere. You know what I'm talking about. Birchbox, IPSY, Stitch Fix, Dollar Shave Club, and Fabletics are all companies that have taken my social media ads by storm. Often times they boast incredibly appealing prices for new members in their first month. It's often difficult to avoid clicking the link and seeing what these services have to offer you.
The most recent company to flood my ad space has been Bright Cellars. This subscription service claims that its curators can create a list of wines to suit your taste, even if you have never enjoyed a wine before. Then, they will ship you 6 bottles of wine based on your tastes right to your door for just under $100. I had been intrigued by these ads, as I'm a wine lover. However, the ads alone were not quite enough to get me to try their service. It wasn't until a YouTube ad offered 50% my first month that I was hooked in. 6 bottles of wine, catered to my tastes, and shipped to my door during isolation for under $10 a bottle? Yeah, okay, I'm listening now.
How It Works
When you enter Bright Cellars' website, you are given a quick quiz. The quiz will allow you to share some of your tastes with the curators who will be compiling your wine lists. The quiz is fairly simple:
What is the one type of chocolate you could eat for the rest of your life?
Choices of dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, Reese's cup, Snickers, and where's the fruity candy?
2. How do you like your tea?
Choices of iced and sweet, iced with no sugar, hot with sugar, Arnold Palmer, brewed strong, and no tea, no tea!
3. What's your go to drink? (when you're out of wine!)
Choices of margarita, beer, martini (dry), whiskey/scotch, and mimosa
4. What is your favorite juice?
choices of orange, grapefruit, grape, tomato, cranberry, and is coffee juice?
5. What is your favorite pairing?
Choices of a fine dinner, a day at the beach, a good book, your group of close friends, a wild party
6. How adventurous are you with new food and drink?
Choices of I'm here to try delicious unique wine!, Throw in the occasional fun one you think I'd love, and no surprises please!
7. Do you have a preference for red or white wines?
The responses here range from best matches regardless if red or white, to only reds and only whites.
Once you finish the quiz, create your login info, and see your matches! From here you can decide if you want to add payment info and join the subscription service, or you can just see your matches and try to acquire them yourself. The best part about Bright Cellars subscription, is that you can postpone however long you want. The company will only charge your card whenever you actually place an order. You can also cancel any time! The company also claims the more you use the service and review your wines, the more accurately your boxes can be customized to suit your unique taste.
My Experience With Bright Cellars
I am not typically picky when it comes to my taste buds. This actually made the quiz slightly difficult, as I had to choose which options I most liked. In some instances, it was quite difficult to pick between two favorites. (Ahem Reese's and dark chocolate)
In the end, my responses looked like this:
Hot with sugar
Is coffee juice?
A good book
Best matches, regardless if red or white
I also talked my fiancé into trying Bright Cellars, so that we could compare our curated lists and see just how unique they ended up being. His responses were as follows:
Throw in the occasional unique one
Best matches, regardless if red or white
As you can see, there is a little overlap in our answers, but overall they are fairly different. I was surprised then, by how many of our wines were the same. This may change in future orders as we rate our choices and flesh out our tastes. However, for the first order, they weren't all that different.
Our orders took about a week and a half to arrive. The bottles were all packaged safely and there were no signs of a bumpy ride.
The box contained storage instructions, suggested serving temperatures, a few promotional cards with partners, wine info cards, and most importantly the wine.
The wines I received (pictured below from left to right):
Mojave Rain - Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 - California
Vanishing Act - Red Blend 2017 - Columbia Valley
Drosera - Chardonnay 2018 - Australia
Supergenre - Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 - Washington
My fiancé received his wine on that same day. We both had Mojave Rain, Sunshower, and Vanishing Act in our boxes, but from there our lists began to differ. In addition to these he received:
Big Rivers Double Century - Shiraz 2019 - Australia
Cardella Winery - Barbera 2013 - California
Mulderbosch - Cabernet Sauvignon Rose 2018 - South Africa
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit jealous that he got a Shiraz and a rose in his box...
How Unique Was The Wine List?
After I opened my wine package, I took a trip to my state liquor agency to see just how easily I could have acquired these wines myself. In short: I couldn't. My local store has a fairly vast selection of wines, but none of our Bright Cellars list were unavailable.
I then searched the internet to see if I could have purchased a bottle directly from the winery. Once again, I found that none of the bottles were available for purchase. I did learn during this research that all of the wines retailed at approximately $25, so I certainly got a deal on them with Bright Cellars.
So, what do you do if you want to repurchase a bottle you received? Bright Cellars gives their subscribers the option to rebuy any wines they get in their boxes. They even provide the option for their users to request notifications if any favorites go on sale! Essentially, if any of your curated wines become a go-to and can continue to have it shipped to your door as often as you like.
In conclusion, I thought this was a fun and unique service. I'm a rather young wine drinker, and I'm still working to develop my palate and learn exactly what it is I want in a wine. Bright Cellars can be a great tool for anyone in this position. I liked that I have the option to be forced out of your comfort zone and enjoy products by wineries I've never heard of before.
There is a risk involved with a subscription box like this. At full price, you put up almost $100 in hopes of 6 bottles of wine that you will enjoy. For a connoisseur I'd say this likely isn't the best gamble as you would likely have no problem finding the perfect wine for your tastes. However, for someone who's trying to establish a taste for wine, this could be a great way to explore wine. If you don't enjoy your matches, however, you are out $100.
I will be reviewing my wine matches weekly as I anticipate my next box. Stay tuned to see exactly how well Bright Cellars catered to my taste. Ahem if you haven't subscribed yet, this is my shameless nudge.
Have you tried a curated subscription service? Which subscription box would you like to see me try next?