Firstleaf vs Bright Cellars Compared: Which Subscription Is Best?

Main Differences Between Firstleaf vs Bright Cellars:

The main differences between Firstleaf vs Bright Cellars are:

  • Bright Cellars allows you to see only the wine selected for you, whereas Firstleaf allows you to peruse wine and detailed info.
  • Bright Cellars only allows refunds for damaged packages, whereas Firstleaf allows refunds for almost any reason within 30 days.
  • Bright Cellars’ personal quiz can easily be answered, whereas Firstleaf requires you to have prior knowledge about wine and wine preferences.
  • Bright Cellars surprises you every month, whereas Firstleaf adjusts selections based upon an algorithm and your own ratings.

As the holidays come into full swing, wine clubs like Firstleaf and Bright Cellars are frequently mentioned as potential ways to gift in a unique and also personalized way. And while wine clubs have been around since the first wine club of the month launched in 1972, they’re in full force now.

That shows not only with the proliferation of wine clubs available, but also how many companies are moving to make larger investments, expand their inventory, or implement incentives to attract new customers.

Take Bright Cellars, the Milwaukee based wine subscription service which just announced CSA Partners would invest eight and a half million dollars in the company. This would be a remarkable investment in of itself, but especially when you considered Bright Cellars has been in operation for under five years.

But Bright Cellars isn’t the only wine club making the news. In September of this year, Firstleaf partnered with The Los Angeles Times, a newspaper of regional and national clout. The announcement came during The Taste, a three-day food and wine festival situated at Paramount Studios.

Citing the personalization and diversity of offerings, The L.A. Times explained that a wine club like Bright Cellars fit what they felt were the varied needs and tastes of their readers.

But high profile investments aside, what’s really behind wine clubs like Firstleaf and Bright Cellars? In this review, we’ll cover your frequently asked questions and see how compared, Firstleaf and Bright Cellars either deliver or fail to deliver.

At the conclusion, we’ll tell you whether or not we recommend one wine club over the other.

Firstleaf vs Bright Cellars faq

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best wine subscription? 

Whether you call it a subscription, wine club, or wine box, you may be one of many people wondering which are the best wine subscriptions. In a crowded market, it comes down to four main factors: quality of service (shipping, refunds, customer service, communication); pricing and subscription plans (reasonable cost, flexibility, cancellation and renewal options); quality and selection of wine (variety, origin, etc) and transparency. The best wine subscription is also one that meets your own needs and budget.

Are wine clubs worth it?

Whether or not a wine club is worth it depends on your needs. Arguably, seeking out wine for yourself is normally going to be cheaper, and you’ll have more control over how you buy or have it delivered. There’s also the fact that you’re in control of exactly what you’ll get, which can be both a positive and negative aspect. The main appeal of wine clubs are that they offer convenience and may help introduce you to new wines.

Of course, many also look at wine clubs as a way to gift others. Ultimately, wine clubs are only worth it if they deliver in terms of customer service. Wine clubs won’t save you money, but they can save time, add some fun, and be a great resource for finding different wines that you might otherwise not know about or have access to.

How do wine of the month clubs work? 

Wine of the month clubs typically asks you to start by signing up and creating a profile. Some require you to take a short quiz to better understand your personal preferences. No matter the model, wine of the month clubs send you a few to several different wines per month.

Most have you pay on a month to month basis, though a few have quarterly or even annual options. There are generally two main ways these clubs operate: some simply ship off different wines based upon their own featured wines, while others send based upon your preferences and/ or feedback. A few, such as Winc, actually encourage you to select all the wines you’ll be shipped for that month.

Does Amazon sell wine?

The short answer: Amazon no longer sells wine through its once existing online wine store. But the longer answer requires context. Amazon shut down its wine market back in 2017, due to alcohol regulations.

Now, Amazon supplies wine through affiliate outlets, including Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh. This isn’t the best place to purchase wine, however, and there’s next to no guidance helping you select kinds of wine.

Does Bright Cellars (or Firstleaf) ship to Canada?

While both Bright Cellars and Firstleaf ship to most states within the United States, neither ship to Canada, or on any international basis at this time. A handful of states cannot receive shipments from any wine clubs or subscriptions due to state laws.

Can you cancel Bright Cellars? 

How do I cancel my Firstleaf Membership? Both Bright Cellars and Firstleaf may be canceled at almost any time by managing your account. Firstleaf allows you to cancel online.

You simply go to https://www.firstleaf.club/unsubscribe, where you’ll have to provide your password and the reason for cancellation. In the case you wish to cancel Bright Cellars, you have two options: you can either call their direct line, 239-432-9463 or send an email request to members@directcellars.com.

Are Firstleaf wines (or Bright Cellars) any good?

Good is a relative term, and depends on what you’re looking for. Both Bright Cellars and Firstleaf offer relatively affordable bottles of wine, so don’t expect to find vintage options, but there are criteria in place to ensure quality during the curation process. We’ll dive deeper into the details when we directly compare Firstleaf vs Bright Cellars.

Does Firstleaf make a good gift? 

Due to the lack of prepaid options, it’s admittedly difficult to make Firstleaf a gift, though you could gift for a month. Firstleaf very much seems to cater more towards those hoping to order wine for themselves. Bright Cellars, compared, is easier to gift as they have a “gift as a gift” option, which more or less works like store credit.

Once your purchase, your recipient will be sent an email, and be able to create a box for themselves. While not quite the same as gifting a subscription, it’s still a way to gift.

Which is Better: Firstleaf or Bright Cellars? 

Firstleaf or Bright Cellars

Firstleaf and Bright Cellars, on the surface, seem to offer the same promise: wine delivered straight to your door, curated based on your personal preferences. But when compared side by side, which one is the better option?

What’s the main appeal to Firstleaf vs Bright Cellars?

 For this question, let’s look out the differences between how Firstleaf vs Bright Cellars are being marketed.

  • Firstleaf emphasizes personalization through technology. In addition to a personalized quiz, Firstleaf mentions that it’s an innovative wine club that combines an algorithm with customer ratings in order to procure wines. The inventory is updated based upon their own selection standards as well: over ten thousand wines are said to be sampled, and under five percent at any given time are selected for the inventory. The idea is to provide well rated wines, but also wines driven through consumer demand, and an inventory that is constantly moving with their client base.
  • Bright Cellars markets itself as a straight forward wine club. Keeping the message simple, Bright Cellars shies away from making sweeping claims and instead presents a clean interface, and a nod to customers that may simply be looking for a way to enjoy wine every month without much fuss. The logo “Discover wine you love,” points to reaching to beginners or those who hope to discover new wines through their personalized quiz.

How do subscriptions work for Firstleaf vs Bright Cellars?

Subscriptions for Firstlead and Bright Cellars are fairly easy to begin. Both have a straightforward process that should be easy to follow even to someone unaccustomed to subscription services.

  • Firstleaf offers a simple quiz and quick sign upFirstleaf’s quiz will ask you questions about wine preferences. Questions involve how sweet or dry you like your wine; your preference for wine variety and styles, and other questions meant to help get a sense for your personal tastes. While this is specific and will be helpful for many, anyone less familiar with wine may find it difficult to answer, though you do have the option to skip any of the thirteen questions. Upon completing the quiz, you’ll be asked to supply your email to sign up. The email will provide results for your quiz, which influences the wine you’ll receive in your first package.
  • Bright Cellars works much the same way, with a personalized quiz. The quiz is short like First Leaf. However, the quiz poses questions more about general flavors and food favorites, which could be less accurate or specific than asking questions directly about wine, yet it’s also more accessible to those less familiar with wine than Firstleaf’s quiz. After taking the quiz, you’ll see results for six wines that match your preferences.

How do the subscription plans and prices compare for Firstleaf vs Bright Cellars

Firstleaf vs Bright Cellars Subscription Plans

Subscription plans should include information about pricing, frequency, and quantity, as well as information how to cancel.

  • Firstleaf has a simple monthly subscription. There is essentially a trial box, which costs ten dollars and is shipped after taking your introductory preference quiz. After that, you’ll be shipped six bottles of wine per month for $90. You pay by box, and can cancel at any time.
  • Bright Cellars makes it difficult to find information about subscriptions. Even if you like the clean, easy to navigate interface, the incentive is to take a quiz and get your results before getting the pricing details. It appears you normally are shipped around six bottles at a time, with a price at fifteen dollars per bottle, regardless of the wine (but with a bonus bottle with your first order). The pricing is the same as Firstleaf, but it’s less immediately obvious. You may also cancel at any time, as you pay per box.

The criteria for selecting wine also tells you what quality of wine you’ll receive, as well as if you’ll be drinking bulk wine. Transparency is also important: just how much information are you given about the types of wines or specific wines you might receive?

  • Firstleaf offers award winning wine from a myriad of regions. Firstleaf claims to partner with wineries across the world, and be selective based upon testing, on what wines are offered. Wines are all labeled with detailed information: food pairings, flavor notes, and even details about the winery of origin are all supplied. Though the inventory varies, you can look at a large selection of current wines. All are more mid list wines, but none are bulk wines.
  • Bright Cellars doesn’t allow you to peruse wines. Instead, you have to go through the process to take the quiz and see what you’re offered. Wines seem to be around the same list price value as with Firstleaf, but there’s simply less information available. You will get information as to where the wine is from, and the label name, so it’s possible to do research yourself. There isn’t much information besides this, and it does seem to present as a heavy concentration of California wines, with some French wines mixed in, as well as from Spain and Portugal. They claim that only “one in twelve” wines make it to their inventory.

Do we recommend Firstleaf or Bright Cellars? 

wine subscription

Both wine clubs are fairly easy to subscribe to, offer a degree of personalization, and variety. The wine is also quite affordable per bottle and the interface for both websites is easy to navigate. While we applaud all these aspects, the reality is there is much to be concerned about when it comes to actual customer service, especially with Firstleaf.

Bright Cellars seems to fare better among customers, but there’s still oddly few ratings, and the complaints resulting in a failing rating are concerning. If you do opt for one of the two, Firstleaf is better for detailed information and likely quality of wine, while Bright Cellars seem like a slightly better bet.

But overall, we can’t recommend either wholeheartedly. However it is important to note that individuals have had positive experiences. It’s suck riskier than a well rated club.

Erin Jamieson

Erin Jamieson brings the latest information to you on wine flavors and types so you can enjoy your next glass to the fullest. In the past, she covered wine selections for weddings and engagement parties. She also previously worked with a private chef company to suggest the perfect wine pairings and believes there is a flavor for every occasion. Erin Jamieson holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Miami University of Ohio.

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