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Firstleaf vs Winc Compared: Which is the Best?

Firstleaf vs Winc Compared: Which is the Best?

Main Differences Between Firstleaf vs Winc:

The main differences between Firstleaf vs Winc are:

  • Firstleaf includes award-winning wine from established wineries, whereas Winc makes you rely on customer ratings.
  • Firstleaf sends out six wines at a time, whereas Winc subscriptions come with three. Prices are close.
  • Winc encourages customers to hand-select their wine, whereas Firstleaf uses a rating algorithm to determine your package.
  • Winc allows vegan and sustainable options, whereas Firstleaf focuses more on wine origin.

Bottom Line Up Front Summary: We preferred the higher quality labels, better introductory offer (see here) and expert quiz matching profile offered by Firstleaf here. Firstleaf also has better discounts on ordering in bulk, which is particularly helpful if you find a label and year that you love. HOWEVER, if you have a strong preference for vegan / sustainable wines OR just prefer to pre-select your wines (less curated), Winc is a great option here too.

Imagine this scenario: you’re at home, looking to entertain and impress or maybe longing to enjoy a wine you’ve never tried before for yourself. But the only place to buy wine nearby is a local grocery store that sells a limited variety. Even more, you find yourself in a constant rut of selecting the same Merlot or Pinot Noir you always do.

That’s where wine clubs like Firstleaf and Winc come in.

Once more limited to independent vineyards, wine clubs and subscriptions are becoming increasingly popular–so much so that the Los Angeles Times stated we’re ‘drowning’ in them. Before you dismiss this as conflated, consider this: most wine clubs experience a growth rate of around sixteen percent, with membership tripling as much as ever six years.

In the last decade, with the innovation of e-commerce businesses, the sheer number of wine clubs is hard to keep up with, from North America to Canada and even Australia, ranging from small wineries to larger conglomerates.

Firstleaf and Winc are the latter. Both Firstleaf and Winc are larger companies, working in partnership with suppliers to get wine from as far away as South Africa shipped to your door. Well known as they both are, it’s easy to feel inundated with so many options.

We’ll make it easier for you. In this review, we’ll examine how compared Firstleaf vs Winc performs on criteria essential to selecting the best wine club.

But first, let’s answer some frequently asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Firstleaf vs Winc Compared

How does a wine club work?

It’s best to think of wine clubs as subscription services. Wine clubs all operate a bit differently when it comes to the details, but tend to operate on a monthly or quarterly basis. After selecting a plan, a few to several bottles of wine are shipped to your door every month. For small or independent wineries, it’s often a way to get customers more involved.

Wine clubs compromise the majority of tasting room sales. For larger companies, such as Firstleaf and Winc, it’s essentially a one-stop way to try or be surprised by a different wine, without the trouble of seeking it out yourself. Services sometimes let you select individual wine bottles, though many have criteria and ‘surprise’ you with wines of the month.

How much does a wine club cost?

Wine clubs range in price. Though you’ll likely be paying a monthly, quarterly, or annual fee, the cost of bottles range from over sixty to a median of thirty, or as little as ten dollars per bottle.

Shipping is often offered for free, or sometimes, free if you add on to your subscription. Wine clubs range from quite expensive to fairly affordable, though bigger names like Winc tend to focus on affordable subscriptions.

What is the cheapest wine club? 

With myriad choices for wine clubs, the competition is stiff for the cheapest option. Nonetheless, Winc and Firstleaf rank within the top five, if not the top two cheapest wine clubs based in North America.

Are wine clubs profitable?

There’s a reason there are so many wine clubs available now. Wine clubs are most profitable. Some estimates suggest that wine clubs have made up around a third of winery’s profits. Wine clubs are also a way to reach a further customer base and encourage even hesitant wine drinkers to try.

What is the best wine of the month club?

The best wine of the month club is one that offers value, from the wines being offered to terms of customer service. What’s best for you will depend on your priorities and why you’re signing up for a wine club in the first place.

For instance, some clubs focus on supplying inexpensive wine, while others focus on wine from certain regions or only ship out the wine of certain quality. No matter the focus, however, customer service and transparency are among the most important aspects to investigate.

What is Firstleaf? What is Winc? 

Firstleaf and Winc are tech-based wine clubs that ship wine from around the world. Unlike some competitors, such as Vinebox, Firstleaf and Winc rely more on customer input, not only with a pre-survey but throughout the process to determine what wines you’ll receive. In this way, they have less of a total surprise element and are more choice-driven.

Are Winc wines good?

Winc supplies wine of different varieties around the world. While we’ll dive into more specifics, know that Winc wine tends not to be the lowest or highest quality. You won’t find rare, exceptional, or aged wines, but they do have certain standards and shy away from bulk wine.

Are Firstleaf wines any good?

Firstleaf ships a variety of wine as well, though they tend to more curated for expert and customer reviews, with as many as ninety percents of them highly recommended.

We’ll investigate the claim a bit more, but like Winc, Firstleaf shies away from bulk wine but also offers wine at accessible pricing, so again, you’ll not have access to the most top tier wine, but there are a quality and customer-based standard.

How do I unsubscribe from Winc or Firstleaf? 

Subscribing or subscribing from Winc or Firstleaf can be handled via phone or your online account. On the surface, it’s a simple process to manage subscriptions from Winc and Firstleaf, though it does ultimately come down to actual results through the provided customer service.

Why is wine called plonk?

Sometimes this slang term comes up when consumers are skeptical of or outright dismissing wine from wine clubs. The term basically refers to what’s considered ‘low-quality wine,’ and derives from French.

The good news is that not only is it not true that wine clubs inherently or even mostly supply poor quality, but there are also a number of ways in which you can more clearly discern the quality of wine from a wine club. Ironically, however, there is a Plonk Wine Club, likely playing off the term and appropriating it in a new way.

Is Firstleaf or Winc the better wine club? 

Firstleaf or Winc Wine Club

Before committing to a wine club, or gifting it to someone else, it’s important to look not only at the cost, but the details of the wine being delivered; terms of customer service; shipping, and company reputation.

Compared, both Firstleaf and Winc have their pros and cons, so let’s see which wine club is the best bet, and which might be the better selection for you:

What’s the main philosophy of Firstleaf vs. Winc?

The main philosophy of a wine club is essentially their ethos and can communicate a good deal about the primary focus and attributes of a company. By looking under company information, often the ‘About’ page, you’ll be able to quickly tell if affordability, quality, or a mix of both is most important to them.

  • Firstleaf is customer service and tech-driven, with a nod to quality. Central to Firstleaf’s ethos is the ability for consumers to impact what wines are shipped through a rating system. They also use an algorithm to comb through and update their wine inventory, offering what they say are ‘personalized selections’ at affordable prices.
  • Winc has a focus on accessibility and a larger wine community. Started from the partnership with two entrepreneurs and a sommelier, Winc has a less detailed ethos, focusing mostly on making connections on a regional and global level (Winc is based in California) and bringing affordable wine with a high degree of variety to consumers.
Why Go With Firstleaf?

First, their quiz is one of the best palette to wine matchers we tested. Second, Firstleaf has some higher quality award winning labels. Finally, Firstleaf offers an incredibly good introductory offer, with affordable prices after.

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How do you sign up for a subscription?

Firstleaf and Winc require you to take short quizzes to sign up for a subscription. The objective is to get a sense of your personal preferences, tastes, and lifestyle.

  • Winc asks you to rate different flavors that can be found in wine–but not directly about wine. You’ll be asked, for instance, how you take your coffee, your preference for salt or citrus, and what fruit or earthy flavors you like, among others. After taking the short quiz, you’ll be directed to a page to sign up for the curated box (which you can customize). You may sign up via Facebook, Google, or email. From there, you’ll select your subscription plan.
  • Firstleaf begins with a quiz specific to wine preferences. The plus side is you’re directly asked how sweet you like your wine, your preference for red vs. white and other wines, as well as specific styles of wine, among other queries. While you may skip questions, the downside is that it’s harder to navigate if you or the person you’re gifting are fairly new to wine or understanding your preferences. Next, you’ll be required to submit an email to sign up and reveal your results (your results determine the wine you’ll receive with your first package).

What subscription plans are available for Firstleaf vs Winc?

Firstleaf vs Winc subscription plans

Subscription plans can make or break joining a wine club, and one of the most important aspects compared between clubs:

  • Winc has a Monthly Plan and an Insider Plan. The basic monthly plan costs around $39 per month for three full-size bottles, with the option to add on additional bottles for $13 and up each, depending on the wine. The Insider Membership costs $59 per month and gives you membership credits, which can be used towards purchasing add on or individual wines.
  • Firstleaf has one membership level after an introductory box. After taking your first quiz, you’ll be shipped what is classified as an introductory box, at a fee of ten dollars. After that first box, membership costs around $90 per shipment, which works out to about fifteen dollars per wine. In addition, you can do an a la carte option, which costs fifteen dollars per bottle with a six-bottle wine package.
Our Pick
Why Go with Winc?

Winc makes it easy to cancel, with less obligation up front. Winc also ships faster and to more states. If you are on the fence, I would give Winc a try first.

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Can you skip or cancel months?

Both Winc and Firstleaf offer the option to skip or cancel by managing your subscriptions online or contacting customer service. There is no annual or long term obligation for either, so you may do so at any time so long as it’s before the next order has already shipped.

What are the delivery and shipping policies for Winc vs Firstleaf?

As you can imagine, shipping and delivery policies are essential to the best wine clubs.

  • Firstleaf ships UPS and FedEx Ground to all states that can legally accept deliveries. Just seven states have such restrictions, which you can check here. You do have to be over 21 and present to sign for orders, and deliveries can be shipped either to your home, business, or FedEx or UPS location. Shipping is not included in subscription fees, and averages ten dollars. Returned shipments due to you not being present can be refunded, for are subject to a twenty-dollar stocking fee.
  • Winc ships within the continental US and costs fifteen dollars a package, or is free with shipments of four bottles or more. For both members and nonmembers, shipments do add on around $9 delivery fee, which is waived when you add on additional wine bottles with your order. You must be of legal drinking age and present to sign; like Firstleaf, you can have your delivery shipped to a business or for pick up.

How do the refund policies compare between Firstleaf vs. Winc?

Sometimes, even with the best wine clubs, not everything goes as planned.

  • Firstleaf offers a thirty-day return policy for most reasons. In the case of a damaged package or simply not enjoying your package, you have the option to contact customer service within thirty days; you can also get refunds for individual bottles. As we’ve already mentioned, missed deliveries may be charged a restocking fee.
  • Winc does not offer refunds on gift cards (which work like store credit), but you can request other refunds. There is not detailed as to what will be offered refunds, but all will be considered ‘as appropriate.’ Like Firstleaf, you could be subject to a restocking fee, though this seems to apply to all orders. There also doesn’t appear to receive refunds on individual wine bottles.

firstleaf wine club

How does the actual wine compare between Firstleaf vs. Winc? 

Firstleaf works based on a customer and algorithm system. That means that your ratings help them select not only what wines you’ll receive, but contribute to their inventory as a whole. A large majority of their wine has purportedly been award-winning as well; you can peruse examples for wines of esteem, with internationally recognized awards. This provides a degree of confidence and transparency.

  • Every wine contains information about the growing region, flavor notes, food pairings, and more. Scroll down, and you’ll even be supplied information about the winery.
  • A Grape to Glass Policy means they partner with wineries on a national and international basis. Wines are sampled, with under five percent selected for their inventory.

Winc touts its wine as sustainably sourced, but there’s less information. Like Firstleaf, wines come across the world and supply a number of ways to select, including essential information such as food pairings, variety, winemaking style, and customer ratings. There is no mention, however, of awards, or further information about the winery itself. While there’s a nice variety, it’s hard to gauge the overall quality. There are vegan options, which is not always as widely available.

How do consumer reviews compare between Winc vs Firstleaf? 

  • Winc reviews leave much to be desired and raise concerns. While you can find ratings on a few cites, Yelp has the most ratings, at around three hundred reports. While the three and a half out of five-star rating doesn’t immediately raise concern, complaints stemmed from issues ranging from lower wine quality and taste to customer service problems, including the inability to stop subscriptions. Worse, Winc is not only not accredited with the Better Business Bureau, but also has an F rating.
  • Firstleaf has similar problems, with an unaccredited, failing rating and absent customer reviews. In some ways worse, it’s very difficult to locate individual ratings for Firstleaf, aside from review sites. While review sites tend to rate Firstleaf fairly well, the F rating and lack of general customer feedback are red flags.

Do we recommend Firstleaf or Winc?

Both wine clubs are far from perfect, and you may do better trying a different wine club or trying on a trial period only, as Firstleaf offers. While there are many aspects to like about both, including customer feedback, customization, and affordability, the lack of transparency on Winc wines, as well as the lack of customer ratings for Firstleaf were big information gaps.

Bottom Line Summary: We preferred the higher quality labels and expert quiz matching profile offered by Firstleaf here. Firstleaf also has better discounts on ordering in bulk, which is particularly helpful if you find a label and year that you love.  HOWEVER, if you have a strong preference for vegan / sustainable wines OR just prefer to pre-select your wines (less curated), Winc is a great option here too.

Other Wine Subscription Options

Of course be sure to check out OVERALL rankings of the best wine clubs here, but also read our Firstleaf vs California Wine Club comparion and our Winc vs Vinebox comparison for two other options.

Also check:

Why Go With Firstleaf?

First, their quiz is one of the best palette to wine matchers we tested. Second, Firstleaf has some higher quality award winning labels. Finally, Firstleaf offers an incredibly good introductory offer, with affordable prices after.

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