The KnowWines Guide to Wine Clubs, Wine Subscriptions, and Wine Delivery

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The internet, investors, and changing interstate commerce laws have come together to bring innovation to the areas of wine clubs, wine delivery, and wine subscriptions. While we love to frequent local wine shops, we also appreciate that consumers are no longer limited by the wine selection in their immediate market.  

Here, we use our experience with wine clubs to outline the pros and cons of the wine clubs available today, as well as the positives and negatives of wine delivery.  Join us as we dig deeper into wine clubs, wine subscriptions, and wine delivery services.

What is a wine club or wine subscription?

There are many different types of wine club aiming to secure wine lovers as monthly customers. Typically, there is some incentive for signing up - a free wine tasting, a shipping discount, or some other enticing benefit. Before delivery, an agreement is signed detailing the number of bottles per month or year, the corresponding monthly fee, and the length of time one must remain in the club (or how many bottles to receive before canceling).

When you join a wine club, an expert is curating your wine collection, eliminating the burden of decision making.  However, the ease of delivery may not be quite as easy as it sounds because delivered wine can’t be left on your doorstep - you have to be at home it. (More on that later!).

There are plenty of reviews claiming that this or that wine club is the best, but the truth is that wine clubs are not one size fits all. While wine clubs attract a good deal of consumers, many of them opt out of wine clubs within two years. Why? Because the consumer may not have taken the time to find out whether a particular wine club will be a good fit.  So, if you’re considering a wine subscription, take some time to identify your wine profile.

What is my wine profile?

Wine consumers fall into six general categories (or genome segments) as identified by Bauerhaus.com. These are Image Seekers, Everyday Loyals, Enthusiasts, Engaged Newcomers, Price Driven, and the Overwhelmed. We have taken the liberty of adding another category: Wine Obsessives.  

Image Seekers like to look over wine lists and wine scores. Perhaps we want to impress friends or clients with wines. Image Seekers also like the look of labels and feel of bottles. They may be up on wine trends but aren’t overly concerned with the details. Image Seekers might spend a little more per bottle than other wine types. However, if there’s a new trend in craft beer or artisan spirits, they are likely to leave wine behind momentarily to chase after the next great thing.

Everyday Loyals are consistent lovers of particular wines. We all know someone like this - the mom who loves Rombauer Chardonnay, the uncle who loves Chablis or the brother who brings Apothec Red home by the case. These loyalists know what they like - and this can be a wine brand, a grape variety, wines from a region. While sommeliers might be frustrated that Everyday Loyals always want to drink the same thing, research shows that this group makes up the largest group of wine consumers by sales.  

Enthusiasts are the folks thirsty for wine knowledge. They love to get multiple inputs before purchasing wine, either from critic scores, shelf talkers (shelf tags), wine merchants, books, or magazines.  Enthusiasts like to check out what is new in the wine section of stores or visit bottle shops while traveling for work or vacation. Enthusiasts may stay enthusiasts for life, or they may become wine obsessives (like us!). They may also someday switch their enthusiasm to spirits like bourbon.

Engaged Consumers are consumers with an interest in learning more about wine, and are typically new wine consumers. They know they like wine. These consumers may become enthusiasts or they may just enjoy wine occasionally with friends.

Price Driven consumers are fairly straight forward. We all know someone who loves a sale, has all the discount codes, and likes to choose the least expensive wine from the list. Nothing wrong with a great value!

Last is the Overwhelmed Consumer. If you like wine but feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choices in store aisles, online, or on a wine list, you can count yourself among the Overwhelmed!

Wine Obsessives!  We’re not included in the Bauerhaus assessment, so I add us in as a seventh type of consumer.  We may have started as an Enthusiast or even an Everyday Loyal, but somewhere along the line we jumped to being an Obsessive. We love reading about wine, visiting wine regions on holidays, purchasing wine storage or wine refrigerators, and collecting a broad or specific wine type. We might also subscribe to multiple wine magazines and follow one or more wine bloggers on social media.  

What type of consumer are you?  Let us know in the comments below.

There are wine clubs or wine subscription services that cater to each of these consumer types.  

What type of wine club is good for me?

The best type of wine club for you is the one that matches your wine consumer profile. You may remain a specific type of wine consumer for a short or long time, or you may shift across different consumption types as you pass through various life stages.

Now that you know your current wine profile, you can start to sift through the many wine clubs out there and find one that fits your needs for the next 12 - 24 months. Why 12 - 24 months? This is the time frame within which one can typically get the best bang for the buck. If your wine profile changes, one can typically opt in and out of wine clubs. Just remember to read the fine print before signing us, as there may be a minimum number of months before you can opt out.

What types of wine clubs are there?

Wine Clubs for Cheap Wine

We get it.  You want a grape-flavored beverage containing alcohol without all the fuss and at a low price, with free or low-cost shipping.  And bonus points for not needing to leave your house! You are likely a Price Driven consumer and are interested in wine clubs with a focus on value. 

These wine clubs scan the wine market and look for something different than what is available in your average big-box store. They focus on wine in the bulk market or value wines available for private label wine branding. Alternatively, the wine might be purchased on the bulk market and vinified by a well-known winemaker. 

If you’ve ever purchased (or been gifted wine) and could not find any information about an actual winery, chances are the wine is from one of these types of wine clubs. The online description will instead focus on key flavors, region, and perhaps farming practices. And importantly, value!

Some examples of these types of wine clubs are Winc and Naked Wines.

Famous Store Brand Wine Clubs 

You may be Overwhelmed by all the wine choices and are thus interested in wines that come from trusted brands. Famous store and media brands you have grown to trust look for ways to strengthen their fan base by offering products and services to help consumers stay with a brand. One of these services is wine clubs.  

Without subscribing, it is hard to tell if you will get private label wines or wines from independent winemakers. Based on an extensive online review, it looks like a lot of these wines are private label bulk wines with a few independent winery offerings included.  

Some examples of these types of famous brand wine clubs are The New York Times Wine Club, WSJ Wine Club, and the Williams-Sonoma Wine Club.

Wine Clubs for Wine Discovery

Engaged consumers looking to build upon their wine knowledge might be interested in wine clubs that are a blend of independent producers and private label wines with a focus on education.

Wine clubs for discovery have an emphasis on learning basic wine concepts through sampling many different types of wines grouped by wine color, style, and agriculture practice. Trendier versions use quizzes or algorithms to direct you to a package you might be interested in.  You can expect to learn the basics around wine varieties, regions, and flavor profiles. In addition to targeting Engaged consumers, these clubs also target the Overwhelmed consumer because the level of detail provided is not overwhelming. If winemakers are mentioned, it is because they are well known.

Examples of discovery wine clubs include Vine Box (for wine drinkers wanting to have a taste before committing to a bottle!), Plonk, and First Leaf Wine Club.

Curation Clubs for Enthusiasts

A number of wine clubs aimed at Enthusiasts curate wines from select wineries. These curation clubs may aim to do any of the following:

  • Introduce wine lovers to new wines based on old favorites (e.g. lower alcohol wines from Bordeaux)

  • Introduce wine lovers of a specific wine style (e.g. Northern Rhone red wine blends) to new wineries that make that style

  • Target specific demographics of wine growers or wine makers (e.g. Women owned wineries or Small Independent producers)


These clubs differ from previous wine clubs mentioned as they are typically grower and winery focused. The information on the website, email, and subscription sign-up is very specific to the wineries highlighted. There will be comparisons between the offered wines and how they differ from other producers in the region or growing the same variety. Specific winemakers and importers may be highlighted, and the club curators may explain why they chose a specific wine over another.  

Some characteristics of these types of curation clubs are engaging emails describing the wines in detail, highlights of winemakers, storytelling about the wine, and dedication to customer service. Local versions of these wine clubs may offer local pick-up to save money on shipping. They may even provide delivery (though delivery options may be limited if it is a smaller wine club).

Take a look at these curation wine clubs: Acme Fine Wines Club, Kermit Lynch Wine Clubs, Women Owned Wineries Sonoma Wine Club, and the SIP Wine Club.

Winery Wine Clubs

If you enjoy the same wines year after year, winery wine clubs are a good way to support your favorite winery as well as getting access to wines similar to your favorite(s). Many of these clubs offer special pricing or shipping discounts around the major holidays. Wine clubs also offer benefits to members which may include free tasting, exclusive events, and travel with fellow wine club members.  Accompanying many winery wine club memberships are details not easily found online, such as in-depth stories about the estate, profiles on the winemaker, vintage challenges, even updates on the cats and dogs at the winery!

Many wineries have online wine club information on their website, and you don’t even need to go to the winery to sign up.  One potential drawback is that your favorite winery may not ship to the state you live in - simply check the fine print! 

Some examples of popular winery wine clubs are the Hall Wines Wine Club, the Ridge Vineyards Wine Club (be sure to also check out our detailed review of Ridge Vineyards!), Biltmore’s Vanderbilt Wine Club, and the Schramsberg Wine Club.

Wine Clubs for Wine Obsessives

Wine obsessives tend to purchase bottles independently and may participate in specific winery wine clubs or subscribe to email lists that offer sales on recognized wine.

Wine Obsessives interested in blind tasting will probably like the Somm Select.

Wine Obsessives interested in sales on known wine brands may like Last Bottle Wines.

What should I know about wine delivery?

Here are some key things to know when it comes to receiving your wine shipments.

Minimum Age 21

In the United States, someone age 21 or older will need to sign for the wine.  

Home Delivery of Wine

Wine won’t be left on your porch or stoop in the United States. You will need to be at home when the wine arrives or you will need to travel to a location indicated on your door tag (e.g. FedEx, UPS). One way to reduce this hassle is to have the wine shipped to your workplace. Some businesses may restrict alcohol on-premise, though, so check your workplace policy. Delivery to work might be a convenient option if you travel for your job and want to prevent the shipping company from returning wine to distribution center because you did not pick it up in time. 

Wine Shipping Laws Vary By State

Wine laws are constantly changing. The amount of wine that can be shipped and whether or not your state even allows wine to be shipped are variables. Also, be aware that the wine retailer needs to do paperwork for each state to which their business ships wine. While it might be perfectly legal for the wine club to send you wine, the business may opt out of shipping to your state if there aren’t enough customers to justify the work required to ship.

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Weather and Wine Delivery

Wine clubs may not deliver year round due to extreme temperatures. It is more expensive to ship during the summer as special care is needed to prevent wines from getting “cooked.” Additionally weather disturbances like snow storms or hurricanes can disrupt delivery and delay your shipment.  

How do I store my wine?

Regardless of which wine club you choose, you might find that it is hard to keep up with consumption. This is a common reason why people stop subscribing to wine clubs.  Check out our article on wine storage to learn more about how to store your wines.  

How do I cancel a wine club?

It is important to keep documentation regarding wine club signups. Some wine clubs allow you to cancel at any time. Others require a minimum number of shipments or wine bottles purchased before cancelling.  

Our Wine Club Wrap Up

Wine clubs are a great way to explore the world of wine. It’s important for customers to find a club that’s a good fit (fitting their wine profile). (Also, it is critical to read the fine print before signing up!) If you have a poor wine club experience, it is likely because the wine club does not meet one of your needs. Either it doesn’t fit with your consumption style, the shipments are too frequent and pile up, or you find it inconvenient to coordinate shipment pickup.  

Wine clubs are probably the best fit for Loyal and Engaged wine types. For the Loyalists, getting your favorite wine over the course of the year might be a great way to support your favorite brand or winery, and ensure that you don’t miss a vintage in case your local bottle shop stops carrying your favorite wine. Wine clubs are generally great for Explorers, though Image Seekers may get bored before the year is up. Value wine seekers might find better values at places like Trader Joes and Costco. Enthusiasts might find that some of the detail is lacking, and may wish to seek out wines from sommelier selection services or regional wine clubs highlighting specific wineries.  Obsessives are more likely to purchase from a variety of sources.  We might like to purchase directly from the winery or from traditional bottle shops or online wine sellers by the bottle versus as part of a wine club.  

We’d love to hear about your wine club experiences in the comments below!

Cheers!

The Top Seven Single Wine Bottle Holders

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Many wine enthusiasts like single wine bottle holders because they provide an attractive conversation piece on the countertop or table while their guests are enjoying wine.  There are many types of single wine bottle holders available from artisans and from online retailers. 

We’ve scoured the internet and found the very best, up-to-date wine holders, any one of which may be a good addition to your dining space or a nice gift for a wine-loving friend.

Why would I want a single wine bottle holder?

A single wine bottle holder is a decorative way to show off a prized bottle of wine.  The wine bottle holder might be minimalistic - intended to display the fine wine. Or, you may prefer a bolder wine holder - a conversation piece beside the cheese tray.

Wine bottle holders, which can be constructed from wood, wire, plastic, or all of the above, have become very popular home decor items.  Also, a wine bottle holder can be an easy, quick gift for the wine lover who “has it all.”

How do I choose a wine bottle holder?

Whether you are purchasing the wine bottle holder as a gift or for your own home, there are a few things to consider.

Construction

Wine bottle displays can be constructed from wood, wire, plastic, wire, resin or a combination all of the above.  

Aesthetic

Since wine bottle holders are home decor, the design aesthetic is a big focus.  Consider who will be using the wine bottle holder. Do they intend to use the product seasonally or throughout the year? Do they like funny/quirky things or are they more traditional?

Space

If the apartment dweller or homeowner has limited space, then a large single wine bottle holder might take up too much space.  They may prefer a wall-mounted item.  

Quality

Since these items fall into the kitchen home decor category, they are typically low to moderately priced.  One-of-a-kind wine bottle holders can be premium priced. However, since those items are very specific we limit our reviews to items that are mass-produced but not low quality.   

Do I need a wine bottle holder?

No, a wine bottle holder is not a necessity for a wine collector.  Its purpose is to show off a bottle of wine or to serve as a conversation piece in its own right.  Most often, single wine bottle holders serve as a unique piece of art reflecting the style and aesthetic of the wine owner. There’s not a single, go-to brand of wine bottle holder.  

Precautions to consider

The wine bottle holder exposes the wine bottle to light, heat, and vibration, all of which can affect the wine. For more on long-term storage of wine, check out our wine storage article.  

If you are gifting a single wine bottle holder, acknowledge that minimalists may find them cluttering.
Best wine bottle holders

And the best single wine bottle holders are ….

Best Wooden Wine Bottle Holder

This hardwood wine bottle holder would be a good bet for anyone whose design style you’re not sure of. It does not look or feel cheap and would make a good gift for someone who would like to show off a single Napa Cabernet Sauvignon to guests. This is our pick for that conservative or traditional wine enthusiast in your life.
Pros:

  • Unique gravity-defying shape - does not look like every other wine bottle holder on the market

  • Dark finish and minimalist design complement many home decor styles

  • Comes in a nice box for easy wrapping - no need to wrap an awkward shape

Cons:

  • Free accompanying bottle stopper seems like an odd freebie (but hey, it’s free!)

Best Metal Wine Bottle Holder

We love this simple, stainless steel wine bottle holder as our favorite metal wine bottle holder.  If you (or the gift recipient) want to showcase the wine instead of the bottle holder itself, this might be a good selection.  

Pros:

  • No design elements near the neck of the wine bottle - so it can acomodate 750 mL bottles of various sizes and lengths

  • Matches most stainless steel kitchen appliances

  • Rust resistant - if you entertain outside and accidentally leave it outdoors a few times, it won’t rust

Cons:

  • Might look a little too simple or industrial for those who would prefer a little more character in their wine bottle holder

Best Floating Wine Bottle Holder (in Cowboy Up! Or Ships Ahoy!)

Yes, you can have the best of both worlds - minimalist design that won’t detract from a great bottle of wine AND a topic of discussion at your next party.  

Pro:

  • Makes guests look twice

  • Design is not obtrusive

Con:

  • Only available in white

  • Might get tipped over in a crowded or busy space

Best Wall Mounted Wine Bottle Holder

Many wall mounted wine bottle holders detract from the wine bottle.  Our top pick lets the label do all the talking.   

Pros:

  • Minimalist design - you see the wine bottle not the holder

  • Can be used at room temperature (in a kitchen) or in a wine cellar 

  • Easy to install

Cons:

  • The holder does stick out of the wall a little bit - you will not want to mount one right next to a doorway

Best Animal Wine Bottle Holder

There are so many animal wine bottle holders available online, it was so hard to pick one!  If you don’t know what type of animal a gift recipient likes, an octopus is a good compromise (they’re quite intelligent, and fun to look at, too!).  This wine holder is also a great gift for nautical themed condos or beach homes - or Kraken lovers.  This guy’s tentacles don’t get in the way of the top of the bottle, so it can acomodates a variety of bottle lengths and sizes.  

Pros:

  • Some of the animal wine bottle holders have the bottle aimed at the animal’s mouth.  While this may elicit a chuckle, some people consider it a little on the silly side. Also, those designs might not fit all bottle types.  This one allows for more flexibility in bottle size.

Cons:

  • Don’t store the wine for long in an upright position as the cork will dry out!

Best Unique Wine Bottle Holder (Perfect for Halloween!)

Worried about having a lifeless party?  Why not liven it up with this Undead single bottle wine holder? This is a perfect gift for fans of The Walking Dead or Santa Clarita Diet (or for anyone who loves Halloween).

Pros:

  • Weighing in at a little over three pounds, this resin wine holder is a sturdy piece

  • Very detailed gore on the zombie neck, face and arms

Cons:

  • Does not hold odd wine bottle sizes or odd liquor bottle sizes

Best Wine Holder for Boxed Wine

Who says boxed wine doesn’t deserve a spotlight. We say, “No wine left behind!”

Entertaining a crowd?  Need to take wine to the beach or pool where glass is a no-no? Discard that carboard box and place that bag of wine inside this stylish wood box!  The way this wood box is designed, you can actually get all the wine out of the bag (in some cardboard boxes it is tricky to get all the wine out).

The best part about wine in a bag is that if you don’t finish it all, it will keep for many days.  While much of boxed wine here in the US is nameless plonk in a box, there is an increasing number of good value wine being placed in these containers.  

Pro Tip: Purchase more than one for a party and then use one for wine and the other for any other spirited cocktail under 80 proof.  

Pros:  

  • Good for weddings or big parties when you want to avoid unsightly cardboard boxes

  • Home winemaker?  Fill the bag with your own creation and label with the free accompanying chalk

  • Accompanying bags can be filled with bottled wine as well

Cons:

  • A little bulky - you’ll need to find a place to store it when not in use

And the winner is…

The floating lasso bottle holder!

We like that this wine holder showcased the wine, yet was intriguing enough to be a topic of discussion at an indoor or outdoor party.  Also, the white color complements or contrasts a lot of trendy decor and surfaces.  It would fit right at home in a range of decor styles - beach, cowboy chic, or rustic modern.  

Good luck choosing the wine bottle holder that’s just right for your entertaining or gifting needs!

Cheers!

How to Remove Labels from Wine Bottles

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If you’re a wine and craft beer enthusiast, a winemaker, or a crafter (or are just curious!), you may find yourself needing to remove wine labels from bottles. Here, we offer an overview and specific details on how to get a label off of a wine bottle for a variety of purposes. As you’ll see, there is no one-size-fits-all methodology for removing wine labels.  

Why remove the label from a wine bottle?

Wine enthusiasts and scrapbookers may want to remove a wine label to save it in a wine journal or scrapbook. Winemakers remove labels for the purpose of re-use - they remove commercial labels from the bottle before adhering their own.  Last, artisans and crafters often use wine bottles or wine labels for crafts such as wine bottle glassware, wine tile coasters, or framed wine labels as wall art. 

What should I consider before removing a wine bottle label?

First, remember to keep the bottle you want to remove the label from! Far too often, a wine bottle disappears from the table or from the party before one thinks to save the label.  Once the bottle disappears, the only option remaining is to send a self-addressed stamped envelope (via snail-mail) to the winery and ask if they have an extra label from that vintage. Explain that you did not keep your bottle and that you want the label for your wine journal.  

Next, determine if you are able to take the bottle home with you or if you must remove the label there at the event.  Not being able to take the wine bottle home will significantly reduce your options for removing a wine label. Your only options then are the Lift-Off Method and the “kindly ask your server or sommelier if they can remove the label for you” approach!  

Once you have the bottle home, you’ll need to assess the label and the associated adhesive.  Determining which item you wish to keep - the label or the bottle - will dictate the method of removal you use.  

How do I decide the method of label removal for a particular bottle?

What is the label constructed of?  If the label is plastic (more like a sticker) it will be less permeable to water.   If it is plastic, then removal will often require heat or physical means (such as a razor) regardless if you are trying to save the label or just the bottle.

If the label is paper, then it is more permeable to liquids and a different removal method may be needed depending on if you are trying to save the label or the bottle.

Labels adhere to wine and beer bottles through a variety of adhesive polymers. These include pressure-sensitive adhesives (sticker-like) and water-based glues.  Since many of us are not adhesive experts, we will be assessing the label using visual assessment to guess the composition of the glue and to select the label removal method with the highest likelihood of success.

To assess the adhesive construction, take a razor or knife and lift a corner about ¼ inch.  If the adhesive looks like traditional glue, the use of a detergent and water-based method can be considered.  If the adhesive looks more sticker-like in consistency, then heat or physical means (razor, peeling) will be your best bet.     

Wet Label Removal Methods

So, the label you want to remove from the wine bottle looks to be a more conventional glue composition - these label types are typically more water-soluble.  

The OxiClean Method

Based on our personal experience, as well as those in most wine and craft beer forums, we find that the most successful method is the OxiClean approach. We’ve used the OxiClean method on both paper/glue bottles as well as plastic labels with adhesive. If you don’t have Oxiclean in the house, try a comprable household cleaning product.  

Here’s an effective OxiClean label removal method we found in a craft beer forum:

  1. Fill sink (or bucket) with one gallon of water and ¼ cup Oxiclean.

  2. Submerge the wine bottle in the liquid.

  3. Wait thirty minutes (during which time you may as well enjoy a glass of wine!).  Depending upon the adhesive, you may return to find your wine label floating in the sink intact.  

  4. Take a utility knife and slowly lift up on the edge of the label.  If the label is not easy to peel off after thirty minutes of soaking, it’s not going to come off using this method without significant elbow grease. You might as well resign yourself to drying the bottle and trying a dry method. 

  5. Work the utility knife under the label at a diagonal angle. Resist the urge to use your fingers to help speed along the process, as using fingers may result in adding wrinkles to the finished product.

  6. Place the wet label on a piece of waxed paper so that the wet adhesive does not stick to your counter

  7. Once your label is dry, use an acid-free glue stick to adhere your label to your wine journal, your prepared coaster, or photo frame.  Check out this article for making your own wine label coasters.



    Other Household Cleaners to Use for Wine Label Removal

    Ammonia

    No OxiClean?  No problem. Household ammonia is another product, in combination with water, which can aid in dissolving adhesives. Instead of using ¼ cup OxiClean replace it with ¼ ammonia. The ammonia method, in our experience, is a little less effective than the OxyClean method.  

    Baking Soda

    Only have baking soda on hand?  Add 5 to 10 tablespoons to one gallon of warm water and follow the same steps as the OxiClean method.  

    Hot Water

    No OxiClean, no ammonia, no baking soda?  Try placing the bottle in boiling water, or filling a sink with hot water and dish soap and letting the bottle sit overnight.  Regardless, there is going to be some elbow grease involved to remove the adhesive residue.  

Accessories for Wet Method Wine Label Removal

Regardless of your method - OxyClean, ammonia, simply hot water - if your aim is to discard the wine label and use the bottle for crafting or home winemaking, two products are indispensable.

First, you can scrape the residue with a straight razor or this slightly safer razor with a handle. If you scrape too hard, you can scratch the bottle.

You can also try a non-abrasive scrubber that is gentle and won’t scratch the wine bottle unless you apply superpower strength.  

Still a little bit of adhesive?  Goo Gone is our go-to product for adhesive removal.  After using the Goo Gone, we recommend thoroughly washing the bottle soapy water before re-using to adequately remove the Goo Gone (Goo Gone residue may interfere with your crafting products).

Dry Label Removal Method

Label Lift Method

This method is for the crowd who wants to keep the label in a wine journal or affix it to cardstock for a souvenir.

Our favorite Label Lift is the Onephile Label Lift. We’ve found that this label lift works well when following instructions - we’ve yet to come across a label that gets ripped or torn by the process.  

To apply the Label Lift, simply place it over the label, rub for 1-2 minutes with the backside of a spoon or other hard object, then peel the label. 

Before placing the label in the wine journal or book, you can trim the edges.

These label lifts come in packages of 10 or 50.  To get the hang of it, we recommend getting your technique down with a label from a wine or beer you don’t intend to keep, or practice by first removing first the back label (which most people don’t collect).

This lift label package also fits nicely inside a notebook or wine journal for easy transport.  

The one downside is that the wine label now appears laminated.  If that is not a look you are going for, then try the Oven Method.  

Heat (Oven) Method

So, you don’t like the idea that your wine label appears laminated after removal. Perhaps you would like to make a wine label trivet or mount the wine label onto cardstock for framing.  Or maybe you collect them for eventually making a collage for your wine cellar (lucky you!). Try the heat method! You’ll need some oven mitts for this one.  

First, make sure there is no wine inside the bottle.  Also, make sure that the foil cap or wax bottle cover is removed so there are no foul odors when heating the bottle.  

Place the wine bottle on a cookie sheet (or in a baking dish so it is not rolling around in a dry oven) at 350 degrees F for 5 minutes.  Remove the bottle from the oven and check the readiness of the label for removal by testing the back label. Slip a razor or knife under the label and start to peel slowly from one corner. Don’t force the label or push with your fingers as this is how labels get crinkled during removal. If the label does not give, give it another 5 minutes in the oven. If after 15 minutes the label will not come off, you will have to use another method (like the OxiClean method) as the adhesive needs to be dissolved to come off cleanly.

That’s a wrap … and a few bonus tips!

We’ve provided you with several options for removing wine labels from the bottle, whether you are wanting to keep the label or the bottle!

Removing a label from a bottle of wine is never a perfect endeavor.  A little trial and error is involved in the process as well as some elbow grease.

If you don’t want to go through all this effort, here are two options:

  • You can ask the waiter to remove the wine label for you if you are enjoying a special bottle of wine in a restaurant.

  • You can send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the winery and ask for a pristine label.  They may have one available to send to you (however, it won’t, of course, be from the specific bottle you drank).

Let us know which methods you’ve used in the comments!

Cheers!

Top Nine Wine Books by Women

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There are so many books that can aid you in learning about wine!  

Spend any time around wine lovers and experts and you will quickly find that most are avid readers. In studying for any of the wine certifications through entities such as WSET (Wine and Spirit Educational Trust), CMS (Court of Master Sommeliers), Wine Guild, and Certified Specialist of Wine, one will find that a lot of reading is involved.

It is no surprise, moreover, that many of these books are written by women - 8 out of 10 bottles of wine consumed in home are purchased by women! 

Each book on an aspect of wine has different ideas and different goals for the reader. When picking out wine books, there are many things to consider. 

This blog will help you differentiate typical types of wine books and help you decide which is best - and most interesting - for you.

Wine 101 Books

All wine novices, wine enthusiasts, connoisseurs, and sommeliers all started at the same place … the beginning!  But not all beginning wine books are the same. Some encourage us to memorize specific regions, while others focus on discerning aromas and flavors and demystifying “wine speak.” Some encourage us to explore the world of wine with abandon, while others suggest we focus on the classics. Some are text-heavy while others appeal with images and tables. 

Wine Folly: Magnum Edition: The Master Guide
By Madeline Puckette, Justin Hammack

Best Wine 101 Book for the Visual Learner

Wine Folly:  Magnum Edition

If you learn best through maps, eye-pleasing graphics, and smaller snippets of text, then Wine Folly:  Magnum Edition is the best wine book for you. This book was awarded the 2019 James Beard Foundation Book Award for Beverage. Wine Folly co-founders are Madeline Puckette (sommelier) and Juston Hammack (digital strategist). If you are a fan of the Somm movie series, you may have seen Madeline in Somm: Into the Bottle.

The book begins with a short overview of wine basics presented with graphics and images.  Basics covered include wine labels, types of wine, how to taste wine, how to choose wine, how wine is made, and how to pair wines. It then shifts into an overview of the major grape varieties and wines of the world, with charts and diagrams outlining their geographic distribution, acreage and what smells and tastes to expect. The book recommends wines to explore from each region.  

 
The 24-Hour Wine Expert
By Jancis Robinson

Best Wine 101 Book When You are Crunched For Time

The 24-Hour Wine Expert

Jancis Robinson, the most respected wine critic in the world and well known for authoring and co-authoring some of the heftiest wine books, distills over four decades of wine knowledge into this petite book. 

We love this easy-to-read overview written, with humor, in plain English. The book introduces key concepts then gets right down to the business of choosing the right bottle, matching wine and food to the occasion, and seeking out wine values. After explaining how to handle wine, the book covers the most common grapes and wine regions.

Fun and concise, this book answers many beginner wine questions and may leave you wanting to learn more about wine after following the suggested exercises. You can also check out Jancis in The Somm Series.

 

Wine Consumer Review Books

Not everyone who shops for good wine values is interested in learning a lot about wine. I get it. I love grilled veggies, but I’m not that into outdoor grills. If I need to buy a new grill, I’d consult a consumer review publication or do some online research to find the best grill at a certain price.

General wine review books focus on getting you the best value for your dollar on wines you see year-in year-out in large wine retailers like Total Wine, Target, and Wal-Mart.

For the more wine savvy, other annual publications focused on getting you the best value in a given vintage or vintage + growing region. These books are aimed at emerging or serious collectors placing orders online or through a local wine shop, or at those purchasing wines at restaurants.  

Best Wine Consumer Review Book

Good, Better, Best Wines

If you are looking for a good, cheap wine under $15 that’s available almost anywhere you shop, then this book is great to have on your e-reader App as you browse the aisles.  

Canadian wine judge and wine columnist Carolyn Evans Hammond covers the best $5 to $15 wines distributed throughout the United States and Canada. She covers Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Red Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Rosé, sparkling wines, and other great inexpensive red and white wines.     

Harried shoppers will enjoy this book’s simplicity - Carolyn lists “Good, Better, Best” with an image of each bottle to make shopping a breeze. She also makes recommendations for those looking for a super low-priced Tuesday night wine as well as dessert wines and party wines.  The book ends with best hidden gems.

In addition to checking out Carolyn’s book, see our recommendations for wine shopping at the grocery store.

 

Wine Books About the Pleasures of Wine

Let’s face it, we consume wine for pleasure.

People who enjoy wine derive different pleasures from its consumption, which can include

  • The rituals surrounding wine service in fine dining

  • Relaxing with a complex glass of wine in your favorite chair

  • Exploring the pairing of wine with different food flavors and cuisines

  • Gifting or sharing a coveted bottle with family, clients, or friends 

  • Seeking out and finding underdog wines

  • ...and much more

These books encompass several aspects of the world of wine. The best combine culture, travel, gastronomy, and poetry.  

Best Pleasures of Wine Book for Short Story Lovers

Wine in Words

Wall Street Journal Wine Columnist Lettie Teague shares mini-essays on many wine topics including wine myths, wine culture, and wine exploration. We’re a big fan of Lettie’s wine advice, including “Drink what you don’t know.”

Lettie has been writing about wine for years and the stories in these essays dispense knowledge while gently poking fun at wine insiders.  





 
The Art of Eating
By Joan Reardon, M.F.K. Fisher

Best Pleasures of Wine Book for Foodies

Art of Eating

This book is a compilation of some of the most sensuous books on food and wine. Sixty years have passed since these works were written and they continue to delight readers.

If you want to go back to a time before busyness, microwaves, fast food, and food blogs, then get a taste of M.F.K Fisher’s food and wine writing. His dark humor is a reprieve from today’s “look at me” wine and food social media gastronomy content.

 

Wine Reference Books

Sommeliers and wine lovers collect books in much the same way we collect wine. Book collecting is a pleasure, as well as a necessity, for those in the business. Most wine certification programs require prospective sommeliers to read literature produced or recommended by the certifying body.  Wine reference books can be heavy tomes (some weigh in at more than six pounds!) which makes e-reader versions better on the back.  

Some of the books in this genre focus on breadth of coverage for wine servers, while others go in depth on topics like soils, production practices, wine chemistry, or wine region. 

Best, Most Comprehensive Wine Reference Book

Oxford Companion Wine

From “amphora” to “Zinfandel,” this is the wine reference book for serious enthusiasts and those studying for various wine certifications. Comprised primarily of definitions, maps, and images, it also includes topics such as the following: wine regions, history, viticulture, winemaking, grape varieties, famous wine people, and labeling and tasting terms. The book won the James Beard Award and many others.

 
The Wine Bible
By Karen MacNeil

Best Wine Reference Book for Tasting a World of Wine

The Wine Bible

Hey, it’s not called The Wine Bible nothing. 

Karen MacNeil’s wine tome checks in at over 1000 pages, so we find Kindle the easiest way to carry around all this wine knowledge. This book is the accumulation of years of tasting and wine education since she got her start in the male-dominated wine world of the 1980s. Where many wine books either skim the surface or go very in depth, Karen’s Wine Bible touches on a breadth of topics for both beginners and intermediate-stage wine lovers.

Its many maps, photos, travel stops, wine flavor profiles, and wine pairing suggestions make this the best wine book for travel to wine regions when you know just a little about wine. This book is good for analytical types who prefer text, tables, and diagrams that are clear and efficient. If you are looking for more infographics and less text, some of the other wine books we recommend here might be a better fit.   

 

Wine Essays and Wine Trends

Essays on trends in wine have emerged as a popular kind of wine writing over the past 10 years. These books often cover hot topics like sommelier and restaurant culture as well as vineyard and cellar practices.  

Best Unpretentious Wine Book of Wine Essays

Wine All the Time

Marissa writes about drinking in the real world, four-letter words and all.

Her journey started with drinking all the “two buck Chuck” wines of the world. Then she made a video series called Wine Time. After working as Mindy Kaling’s assistant for four years, Marissa landed a book deal and a role as Bon Appetit contributor.  

Between all the jokes and LOL moments, Marissa dispenses with some good beginner wine information.

 

Best Journalist-Infiltrates-Wine-Connoisseurship-Culture Book of Wine Essays

Cork Dork

Those wanting a front row seat to “rock-star” sommelier culture will enjoy this book. It reveals the lengths that somms and serious students of wine will go in pursuit of certifications. 

Journalist Bianca Bosker takes an investigative reporter approach to learning the world of wine in New York City. Fans of Kitchen Confidential and other “foodie” books may really enjoy this look into the world of the wine-obsessed.  

 

In Conclusion

As you can see, there are many different types of wine books meeting different needs. And we’ve only taken a closer look at wine books written or co-written by women!

Regardless of your wine reading intention, we hope you have enjoyed our recommendations of some of our favorites!

Cheers!








































Your Foolproof Formula For Finding Great Wine At The Grocery Store

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KnowWines understands that the wall of wines at the supermarket can be an intimidating place.  Often, people choose wine with a label that catches their eye or they grab a bottle they’ve tried before and know they like well enough (Apothic, Meiomi, Prisoner?). The problem with these approaches? Great labels don’t always mean great wine, and drinking the same Kendall-Jackson all the time can get pretty boring. Still, we understand that you’re busy and don’t always have time for a stop at the bottle shop, where you’re likely to get decent advice on the proper wine for your palate. That’s why we developed this quick checklist to increase your odds of selecting great cheap wines at a grocery or big-box retailer (like Wal-Mart, Target, Costco), where finding knowledgeable staff can be hit (or mostly) miss.

While understanding your palate  and preferences is the best go-to for finding great cheap wine, we know some tricks for zeroing in on the best wines when you’re on your own at Trader Joe’s or Safeway. Here’s what to look for:

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  1. Region. The more the bottle says about where it came from (specific appellation, specific region), the better the wine. Grocery stores know that many American shoppers purchase wine by variety from a specific region. Often, the best cheap wine will be your favorite wine variety from an up and coming region.

  2. Climate. If the climate of the origin of the wine is warm, the wine will likely be fruitier and sweeter. If the climate of origin is cool, the wine will likely be more tart or acidic. (You may need to brush up on your high school geography for this one!).

  3. Price. Ignore sale stickers. Whether or not a wine is on sale is not an indicator of quality or value. Instead, read the back of the bottle and look for descriptors that sound like something you would enjoy or not enjoy. The more it says about winemaking and the less its says about lifestyle, the better the value. In a similar vein, ignore supermarket shelf talkers. These are the colorful tags and other flair hanging below the wine shelf - usually they offer very little in the way of understanding a wine’s actual value.

  4. Labeling. Be aware of trendy gender and generational advertising norms and how they are applied in grocery and big-box wine aisle advertising. If the label is trying to appeal to these assumptions with phrases like “frazzled mom,” “diet-obsessed,” “lumbersexual,” or  “bRose,” chances are it is overpriced. Same goes for a really cool font. There are plenty of good wines and good wine stories that don’t pander to offensive assumptions.

  5. Bulk discounts. To explore a broader variety of wine, take advantage of the bulk discount by buying wine by the case. Most grocery stores like Whole Foods and Harris Teeter offer a discount on 6 or 12 bottles (typically 10% or more) at certain times of year. Perhaps your go-to wine is $9 but you want to try a different sparkling wine that sells for $25 — buying five of the $9 wine and one $25 wine can bring that $25 bottle down to $22.50, and you’ll save almost a dollar on each of your old standbys.

  6. Conversation. Talk to the person stocking the shelves. You might get lucky and find someone passionate and knowledgeable about wines. Show them what you like and ask what they consider a value. If they judge your selection, talk to you in a condescending manner, or simply can’t provide any good answers, just stick with our trusty checklist.

  7. Refunding or Repurposing. If you do buy a wine and it tastes like bandaids or cardboard (yuck!), has no flavor, or looks strange, ask for a refund.  Wine flaws originating within the winery are less and less common due to better sanitation and technological advancements in the vineyard and winery, however it is possible that the wine was mishandled after it left the winemaker. Most retailers like Total Wine, ALDI and Whole Foods would rather give your money back and have you return for another purchase. Also, if the wine is just not to your liking, consider using it for a wine cocktail, sangria, or mulled wine before pouring it down the sink. Then, try again next time! 

Happy wine shopping, friends! We hope this checklist will make it a little bit easier to end up with a great tasting wine on your table tonight. For an in-depth set of wine shopping resources, check out our list of great wine books!

Cheers!

Fifteen Recommended Wineries in Napa and Sonoma

Looking for a little amusement park in your wine tour experience? Visit Castello di Amorosa, "The Castle of Love" in Napa Valley! After ten years of traveling in Napa, we visited this castle for the first time earlier this year and we've just reviewed it in our wine travel blog. Check out what we have to say about this faux-European castle right in the middle of Napa's oldest vineyards! Link in our bio to read the review!
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Five Large Wineries:

Each of these five large wineries produces over a million bottles of wine per year. Because their wines are widely distributed in the United States, you can experience the tasting without feeling obliged to buy something to take home. These wineries either work with many varieties and have many “brands” at different price points,  or they focus on one or two wines made in large volume.

In Napa:

Beringer: California’s oldest continuously operating winery.

Hall Wines: Nestled in the Diamond Mountain District of Napa Valley.

Robert Mondavi: Four decades of award-winning winemaking.

Stag’s Leap: Beautiful architecture, gorgeous vineyards, and underground caves!

In Sonoma:

Jordan: A beautiful winery-chateau in the French style.

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Five Medium Wineries:

Typically, these wineries have been in business for 30 or more years.

In Napa:

Chappellet: Chappellet’s Pritchard Hill is a stunning setting for tasting wine.

Montelena: The winery boasts a unique stone chateau resembling an English gothic castle.

Opus One: Unique architecture paired with beautiful scenery and wine.

In Sonoma:

Ridge: Sip wine in the presence of gorgeous, 115-year-old vines.

Merry Edwards: Merry Edwards is a female vintner making Pinot Noirs with a sense of place.

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Five Smaller Wineries:

These wineries generally make less than 250,000 bottles of wine per year.

In Napa:

Tor: Family-owned, with a focus on single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wines.

Pina: Family-owned for eight generations! A small Napa Valley treasure.

Corison: Artisanal, age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon by winegrower Cathy Corison.

In Sonoma:

Williams Selyem: Highly-prized Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel.

Peter Michael: Nine family-owned mountain vineyards and thirty-five years of handcrafted wines.

Interested in traveling to Napa and Sonoma? Check out our guide to California’s wine country!

Six Steps (and Three Tips) to Throwing an Amazing Wine Party

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We’re in the business of wine tasting and wine education, but there’s no reason learning can’t be fun. In our classes, tastings are a relaxed, no-fuss affair among friends (in other words, a party!). Love entertaining? Curious about wine? Great! We want to help you set up an amazing event that will both impress your friends and teach them something, too.

 

Here’s how:

1. Decide what you want to know about wine:

  • Are you planning an upcoming trip to a specific wine region, like Bordeaux or Napa Valley?

  • Do you have a favorite grape variety you’d like to know more about, like Pinot Noir or Chardonnay?

  • Are you curious about how wines differ from vintage to vintage?

  • Do you want to explore wines similar to your go-to brand, but slightly different?

  • Or do you want to choose from one of our signature wine classes?

2. Select a general time frame for the event (say, the month of November). Hosting a tasting just for fun or to connect with friends is a wonderful idea, but you might also want to consider coordinating your tasting with a birthday, promotion, or holiday. Wine parties also make a fun and engaging gift for bridesmaids and groomsmen.

3. Select a few specific dates and times for the event and present them to your potential guests to see which will work best. Yes, we understand it is difficult to get any group of adults together! Consider using Doodle, Evite, or Facebook Messenger to help everyone decide on a date more efficiently (and without a long chain of emails!).

4. Choose a location for your wine party. We recommend a home dining room with a table that can provide a space at least 22” wide x 16” deep at each sitting area — you’ll want everyone to have room for a tasting grid, wine glass, and other sampling items. A simple white tablecloth (or no tablecloth!) is fine. If you don’t have a big table, KnowWines can create the extra space needed with portable folding tables that can be covered with a tablecloth.

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5. Finalize the number of guests based on the results of your Doodle poll (or another invitation tool you may have used). We recommend four to eight participants because it is a intimate group size that can fit at one table and allow the space and time for conversation and questions.  An odd number of people is also perfectly fine.

6. Plan your food pairings. KnowWines will bring crackers to your tasting, and you can provide as little or as much additional food as you like. We’re happy to help with suggestions for additional pairings!

So, you’ve planned the party and are expecting a handful of friends to arrive later that day to learn about wine with you. Here are a few tips for day-of party preparation:  

1. Make sure the table is clear about one hour before the tasting so that KnowWines can arrive to set up the tasting. It’s fine to have cool or room-temperature appetizers and cheese already on the table, along with a pitcher of water.  

2. Don’t light any strong candles or wear heavy perfume the day of the tasting. This could interfere with properly tasting and smelling the wine.

3. Relax and enjoy yourself. We promise to show your guests a great time!

The Wine Tasting Grid: A Roadmap to Understanding Wine

You can download a wine grid from global organizations like WSET or buy one like this from www.winefolly.com

You can download a wine grid from global organizations like WSET or buy one like this from www.winefolly.com

If you’re ready to get intimate with wine, to really experience its complexity and find the vocabulary with which to express that complexity, a wine grid is essential. A grid like the one we use at KnowWines is a visual guide for understanding the wine in your glass. This is a professional wine taster’s tool, but it’s also a tool that can make understanding great wine a more accessible task for any wine consumer.

Why a wine grid?

In today’s society, taste and smell - perhaps because they require more time and attention - are underutilized. Instead, we tend to focus on the senses that offer more immediate gratification, like the visuals of a popular new film or YouTube video, the touch of our slick smartphones, or the sound of new music and ringtones. In contrast, aroma and taste are slightly more complex senses, and thus, it may be harder for some people to articulate their experiences with them. Professional wine tasters, however, are well-versed in these senses, and that’s because they’ve taught themselves to experience wine differently than most wine consumers and can anticipate what a wine tastes like.  They utilize a tasting grid as a road map, which is a classification system to identify and make associations between wines and their characteristics. By tasting different types of wine, paying close attention to their qualities, and comparing those qualities on the grid, they build a framework and knowledge for understanding the nuances of great wine. It’s also a great idea to enter your tasting notes in a personalized journal while you’re tasting wines, as a reference for future wine purchases.

Would you like some mushroom with that Malbec?

Here’s a sampling of the vocabulary you’ll find a wine tasting grid:

A wine with a “microbial” aroma might have notes of mushroom, sourdough, or butter.

Qualities of aged wine might include hints of leather, tobacco, dried fruit, or coffee.

Wine with a strong floral nose may have hints of elderflower, honeysuckle, rose, or lavender.

A wine with vegetal qualities may encompass sun-dried tomato, grass, or bell pepper.

How exactly does the wine grid work?

The grid breaks the wine down into parts: the wine’s visual qualities, it’s aroma (or “nose”), and it’s structure. For those of us who fall short of words when trying to describe wines (and let’s face it, most of us do), a grid provides the necessary vocabulary. For example, when describing a wine’s visual qualities, you may consider its clarity (is it clear, hazy, murky, or bubbly?) and its color (is a red wine more ruby or more purple?).  Next, you’ll consider the wine’s aroma. Here, the grid offers a poetic array of taste and aroma descriptors, from spice (thyme? mint? eucalyptus?) to oak (vanilla? cigar box?) to citrus (marmalade or grapefruit?). Then, you’ll consider the wine’s structure. This is a bit more advanced, but it’s a category of wine knowledge made more accessible by the grid. In this category, you’ll consider the wine’s level of sweetness (is it bone dry or very sweet?) and it’s level of tannin (does it contain more wood or more grape?). Over time, your combined understanding of these elements in wine will help you to more easily identify the region a wine comes from and how it was made. And, most importantly, the grid helps you understand which wines you love and where to find them.

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Will the grid work for me?

Once you learn how to use it, absolutely! This grid incorporates the key concepts of tasting grids and is an approachable tool for novices and enthusiasts alike.  Tasting grids take the mystery out of wine lingo by offering step-by-step documentation of your sensory experience to share with others in lively discussion. So, not only do you get to share your experiences with others, you’ll also end up with a record of what you tasted that can guide your future wine-buying efforts.

Cheers!