Netflix does a great job of recommending shows you like. If you’ve ever had a Netflix account, you know this already. They take the things you’ve been watching, compare them, and use a formula to figure out what else you might like.
It always seems as if Netflix’s recommendations are right on cue. It’s nice to know that someone is looking out for your interests, and it doesn’t take much effort on your part to really figure it out.
Well, Bright Cellars is the same. Rather than recommending the next great rom-com, it’s dishing up the next bottle of Chardonnay. Or whatever it is you like. They use an algorithm that, get this, learns what you like.
That’s right. You take a quiz, you give feedback, and the wines they send you just keep getting better.
What is Bright Cellars?
This wine club was founded by grads at MIT who developed a 7-question quiz to establish a base for your preferences. Then, they match you with an introductory 4-bottle selection that includes unique wine from all over the world.
You spend your months trying the wine and giving Bright Cellars feedback, that they then continue to use to improve your selections. Every box is based on your individual preferences, so someone else’s experience with Bright Cellars will be completely different than yours.
You can select whether you want mostly whites, mostly reds, or a mix of both. They’ll occasionally throw in one of color you may not prefer, simply because they think you’ll like it.
Bright Cellars Cost
Regardless of the normal price, you’ll pay $20 per bottle every time. You get 4 bottles every month shipped right to your door. The unfortunate part of Bright Cellars is that for $80 per month, it would be nice if shipping were free.
Pricing is straightforward and you’ll always pay the same price every month. It’s a flat rate subscription that doesn’t vary. Some wine clubs will range in price up to $10 or $20 a month depending on what they ship you, which can be surprising on your budget when you don’t expect it.
However, you’ll pay for shipping based on your zip code. My shipping was an additional $8, which adds up when you’re paying for it every month. Of course, shipping is always dependent on local laws.
You can find that information on your city or county website. If it’s legal in your area, you can order. Someone 21 or older must be there to sign when the package is delivered, so it’s recommended that you ship it wherever you are during the day, whether that’s at work or at home.
There are plenty of wine subscription boxes out there to choose from, so there’s no doubt you’re conflicted when shopping around. However, Bright Cellars is a great option, if you’re wanting to try something out.
Sign up was one of the most seamless processes I’ve experienced with a wine club. Their interface was intuitive and they made it really easy to complete the first order. It involved taking the quiz, providing my email address (or signing up through Google or Facebook), and entering billing and shipping information.
I live in a rural area, so shipping took a bit longer, but for those who live in major areas, it may not be as big of an issue. Regardless, it was worth the wait for the unique wines I got to try, which I will talk about a little later.
The quiz was quick and fun. The questions were straightforward and intended to learn more about what sorts of flavor profiles I enjoy. The type of chocolate I like, my favorite juice (is coffee juice??), and whether or not I like citrus were just a few of the questions.
I assume they’re gathering this data because these are some of the most common flavors found in wine and they’re doing their best to pair me with what they think I’ll like. They didn’t get it exactly right on the first try, but subsequent boxes should be better, especially if I’m diligent about giving feedback.
As a consumer, it’s tough to spend money on something that you’re not sure about. Especially when talking about almost $100 a month. Luckily, with Bright Cellars, you’re nearly guaranteed to get something you like.
They customize their boxes just for you based on the answers you provided and the feedback you continue to offer. Now, if you forget to leave feedback, your boxes won’t improve and you’re likely to receive a few things you don’t like as much.
Once your box arrives, you’ll see that each bottle of wine has been given a percentage. This is the likelihood that the wine will match your preferences. They’ve definitely perfected the science of wine match-making.
If there’s ever a bottle that you really don’t like, they’ll replace it in the next box the send.
The wines you receive are truly unique. You can guarantee that your experience will be fantastic and it will offer what you can’t find in the store.
Many people who’ve already tried a lot of wines may look down on the club and think they couldn’t possibly offer anything that unique. Fortunately for you and your experienced taste buds, they can and they will.
If you already know what you like and what you don’t, you really don’t need anyone else to tell you. However, the goal of this wine club is to expand your horizons. If you don’t like reds at all, they’re not going to change your mind. But they will send you some whites that you definitely won’t find in the corner shop.
Bright Cellars shops vineyards all over the world and they only source 1 out of every 12 bottles for their curated collections. These wines are hard to find, but you’ll find them in the boxes shipped right to your door.
The Wines You’ll Get
Well, the wines I got, anyway. They were really fantastic quality and definitely unique. Here are the wines I got to try.
Lost City Malbec 2019
This variety was from Mendoza, Argentina. Believe it or not, Argentina is a giant hotbed of activity for incredible wineries. While the Malbec is a red blend, Argentina actually has quite a few of their own original varieties you can’t find anywhere else.
This wine offered up flavors of blueberry, plum, vanilla, and chocolate. I enjoyed the vanilla and chocolate flavors, and the blueberry complimented them nicely. I’m not a huge fan of plum, but it definitely contributed a lot to a smoother finish.
I like a full-bodied red with pasta, so this was a great wine to try on spaghetti night. As you can see from the picture, if you don’t feel brave enough to try something that Bright Cellars recommend, you can always click the “Don’t like” button and it will suggest something new for you.
This is a great way to customize your boxes even more, and they’ll track this information and add that wine to their list of wines they won’t send again.
Whistling Arrow Red Blend
This is a domestic red wine blend from Chalone, California. California wines tend to be brighter in flavor profiles than Argentinian reds, but this one surprised me. Plum, mulberry, and black current give it a fuller body, but it’s super juicy and enjoyable.
This wine from Central Coast, California was definitely bright and fruit-forward. The raspberry flavor did a lot to lighten the intensity of this wine and it was a really delightful treat in the afternoon. It was also an awesome wine to drink for dessert.
It also had flavors of strawberry, plum, and baking spices. For some reason, one of the answers I gave on the quiz made Bright Cellars think I really like plum. Maybe I do and I just don’t know it.
However, I am a sucker for some spice and intensity, so the baking spices on this one were really enjoyable.
This one was perhaps the most unique wine I got to try. It’s from Monterey County, California.
Side note: one of the most disappointing things I experienced was that I only got one international wine, but everything I tried was good.
Flavors of peach, lychee, lime zest, and cantaloupe give this wine a dreamy, tropical feel. It’s bright and sweet and definitely the best one I received. It had excellent balance and I can’t accurately describe in words how much I enjoyed it.
Others You Might Try
While I can’t speak to anyone else’s experience, here are some other wines you may get to experience, depending on how you answer the questions.
Obscura Pinot Noir
This wine, full of baking spices and fruity flavors, will always pair well with savory dishes. It’s full-bodied and smooth, well-balanced, and semi-dry. I honestly wish they would have sent this one to me. It sounds wonderful!
Jetbird Petit Verdot
Bright Cellars actually did recommend a variety from Jetbird, but I declined it to see what would happen when I did. It was an easy process that just pulled up a replacement for me in my list of recommendations.
This is a full-bodied and dry white wine from California. It goes well with dark chocolate and hard cheese, so try offering it up at a party next to the snack tray.
Jetbird Cabernet Sauvignon
This is the Jetbird they recommended to me. I didn’t decline it because I didn’t think I’d like it. I simply wanted to see what would happen. It’s another from California. I’m beginning to wonder if they really source these unique wines from around the world.
Black raspberry, cranberry, pomegranate, and bell pepper dominate. It’s sweet and subtle with a medium body, spicy notes, and balanced intensity.
Batik Muscat of Alexandria
This white wine is sweet and juicy. It’s tropical with flavors like mango, peach, and orange blossom. It goes really well with spicy dishes.
Mojave Rain Cabernet Sauvignon
The ripe black cherry, raspberry, and plum flavors make this full-bodied wine sweet while the spiced vanilla and oak add depth and character. It’s well-balanced, warm, and smooth.
This is one of those bottles you might consider keeping when you’re done. But perhaps I only say that because my kids liked the bear.
There may be one thing you won’t like about Bright Cellars. Their algorithm may work a little too well. As it learns what you like, it will only choose things that it knows are a safe bet. That means even though you’re getting unique wines, you’re not really shaking things up at all.
Sometimes it’s nice to try something totally new, but your boxes won’t branch out much from what you like after they pigeonhole you into your corner. For those who don’t like surprises, that’s a good thing.
For those who really want to experience something new and different, it likely won’t happen unless you supplement your box with purchases you make on your own.
How to Join Bright Cellars
It really couldn’t get much easier than this. Bright Cellars walks you through the signup process, displays the wine it will ship to you, and gives you your total before completing the transaction. Even the quiz is quick and easy.
First, take the wine quiz. There are only 7 questions, and most of them are pretty easy and fun to answer. It’s designed to get you started with some things you’ll like, but it may not be perfect at first.
You’ll see the first four wines they’ve picked for you based on your preferences and you can decide whether or not you want to try them. You can pick and choose which to replace if it doesn’t seem like those are going to be good fits.
Next, enter your information. Shipping and payment information will ensure that you get your wine on time at the right place, so you can enjoy it. Once you try the wine, don’t forget to rate it. That way Bright Cellars can keep tracking your preferences and continue to select things you’ll like.
- You get total customization in every box. Your wines are chosen for you, based on your preferences, and ideally, it should get better every time. If you ever get a bottle you don’t like, they’ll replace it for free.
- It’s completely flexible and you can skip as many months as you need or cancel anytime.
- You get awesome wines at discounted prices and you’ll get member rewards like points for referrals that you can redeem in the shop.
- The price could be better. It’s an expensive club, but you’re getting a great value on unique wines if you can find it in your budget.
- There aren’t many freebies here. You won’t get corkscrews or wine stoppers. They also don’t offer custom pamphlets on your wine like a lot of other clubs do. It’s online, but sometimes it’s nice to have some reading material while you try your new wine.
- It’s tough to find much variety here because while your wines are unique, they won’t branch out much from your taste. You’ll try new things, but it won’t be as new or exciting as some other clubs that aren’t afraid to push you out of your comfort zone and ship you the occasional bottle they think you should try.
Whether you’ve tried Bright Cellars already or not, there are several others worth a look that you may like better.
Vinebox ships nine bottles each quarter. They only ship a few ounces of each for you to try, so you won’t be stuck with an entire bottle if you don’t like it. If you do like it, you have the opportunity to purchase an entire bottle at a discount.
While some people would prefer to have the entire bottle shipped (especially at this price), pickier connoisseurs may enjoy trying it before they buy more. While it’s a bit more pricey, the packaging is elegant, and has some of the best presentations I’ve ever seen in a wine club.
Winc is another wine club that learns your preferences based on a quiz and your continued feedback. They attempt to focus more on quality than quantity and ship unique wines and classic blends from obscure vineyards.
The cost starts at considerably less than Bright Cellars, so while it’s similar, you’ll get these unique wines for much cheaper. However, beware, because the cost of the bottles fluctuates from $14 to $35, and it can change from month to month. You never really know what it’s going to cost.
Martha Stewart Wine Club
While the Martha Stewart Wine Club is kind of boring, it’s one of the cheapest and easiest clubs to subscribe to. What I love is that it’s crazy affordable and the wines show up on your doorstep 48 hours after ordering. For those who get anxious about receiving their first box, you won’t have to wait long here.
There’s no quiz to learn your preferences, but for the price (and 6 bottles every month!), you really can’t complain. The wines are nothing spectacular, but they do make great and easy table wines to pair with your meals or share with friends on a budget.
If you’re trying to decide whether or not to try a wine club for yourself, here are some frequently asked questions to get you started.
If you’re more interested in a wine club that pairs wines with your individual preferences, then it’s definitely worth it. You’ll get great quality wines for less than their market value, and you can always ensure that you’ll enjoy them.
It’s pricey and it can sometimes be difficult to remember to leave feedback for every bottle, but if this is the type of club you’re looking for, you should definitely give it a try.
Like most wine clubs, Bright Cellars is easy to cancel. All you need to do is email your concierge and let them know you would like to cancel your account. It can take a few days for them to get back with you, but they should cancel it without too many questions.
Many other wine clubs make it even easier to cancel by logging in to your account and clicking a cancel button.
If you drink wine regularly and you enjoy good wine that’s unique and different from what you would normally find at the store, it may be worth it to join a wine club. Which one you join is up to you, but many of them offer special discounts, freebies, and perks for members.
Some of the most common are Belle & Bottle, Winc, and SommSelect.
For a flat monthly rate, you’ll get 4 bottles of unique wine specifically chosen to match your tastes. It’s definitely worth it if you appreciate good wine you can’t find anywhere else and you want to ensure you’ll receive wines you love. It offers classic blends with a unique twist that you’re sure to enjoy month after month.