Despite my Italian roots, I was raised by Michelob Ultra aficionados. Which means that throughout most of my young adult years, I knew little to nothing about what makes for good booze (doesn’t help that I was kind of straight edge for a minute there too). And as an adult moving through lots of different socioeconomic groups, I always felt kind of embarrassed about my wine ignorance—like I was missing a cultural signifier that said Yes, I am a sophisticated person who can hang out in places that don’t have the word tavern in them.
So in my twenties, I set out on an educational journey to discover what kind of wine I like. I’d hit up my local wine and spirits outlet quizzing the poor sales associates with questions like, “Can you recommend a wine that doesn’t taste so much like… wine?” (That is an actual true story.) And despite the fumbling, ten years later I can confidently say I know what I like.
But I have often wished there was an easier way to learn about wine. Because y’all? I hate standing in an aisle full of unknown bottles burdened by decision fatigue. I can’t even trust my own instincts. The labels I love often contain wines I dislike (so pretty! So cloyingly sweet!) And I have no freaking clue what it means when a wine says it’s, “Fresh and crisp with hints of honeysuckle.” Like… just tell me if it’s dry, Karen. So when we had an opportunity to partner with the online wine subscription Winc this month, I was all…
Long Live The Subscription Box
There’s a reason I love the recent onslaught of subscription boxes (I am still getting my weekly meal kit delivery, thank you very much.) I love learning. But I also hate that feeling when I have a zillion choices in front of me and am trying to make the perfect one. What if I choose wrong?! 😱 I just want someone to hold my hand and give me a few good options. And that’s basically what Winc does, but for wine. (And with the APW discount, it’s less than $10 per bottle for your first shipment. Which is way better than I can say for my local liquor store.)
Here’s how it works:
- First, I got to fill out their six question survey to give them a sense of my palate. They asked me questions like, “How do you take your coffee?” and “Do you like citrus?”
- Then I got to select the ratio of white wine to red that I wanted in my delivery (which I really appreciated, because I generally hate red wine as it often gives me insta-headaches.) I opted for three white and one red as an experiment because the very nice guy at Winc headquarters told me that they have a mellow red that is meant to be served chilled and wouldn’t give me a headache.
- Based on the results of my quiz, Winc gave me an assortment of wines personalized to my taste buds. Once my box was digitally assembled, I could click on the descriptions and learn a bit more about what they’d chosen (Winc tells you whether it’s dry or sweet, light or full bodied, and what the major flavor notes are.) The algorithm smartly picked up on the fact that I enjoy dry white wine, so they got points from me for that.
- You have total freedom to swap out bottles if you’re not feeling their picks, but for the sake of experiment, I wanted to see if they’d figured me out or not, so I hit the order button and waited for my box to ship.
But First, Let’s make this Scientific
The only thing I don’t love about subscription boxes is that the first one is always a gamble. But with Winc, members get a money back guarantee on anything they don’t like. So I figured what better way to test out Winc than to turn the APW staff into guinea pigs. Since I tend to have a very… specific… flavor profile (I hate whisky. Cilantro is a trash leaf. And my other go-to drink in my twenties was Malibu and Diet Coke. #SorryNotSorry.) I also invited Dana and Keriann to join with me. Dana has spent almost a decade as a professional food and wine connoisseur (like food critic was her actual job.) And Keriann wanted to test out Winc in a group environment during a girls night in. Here’s how we all fared:
Dana: I have to say, when I first logged on I was pretty skeptical of Winc’s palate quiz—I was not convinced that the questions would actually reflect my taste in wine. I like my coffee with plenty of cream and sugar, for example, but don’t love full-bodied, sweet, or creamy wines. And I have to admit that I am very definitely a wine snob—I grew up in California’s wine country, and have been known to roll with a serious crowd of painfully hip natural wine devotees. But you know what? The eclectic box Winc sent me was spot on. The malbec I received was relatively full-bodied, paired nicely with a steak at home, and reminded me of my time as a student in Buenos Aires. The chillable, light red was super fresh and had a pleasant herbaceous quality to it, along with some nice cherry and cranberry notes—and was a hit when I brought it to a party with the aforementioned cool wine kids (said friends also enjoyed the Rosa Obscura so much they drank the whole bottle before I could even taste it.) And the Summer Water rosé was exactly what I needed on my deck at the end of a long, hot day.
Keriann: For context: 1) I know very little about what I like in wine, except that, like Maddie, red wine and I are also no longer friends and I am very sad about it, and 2) I’m notorious for manipulating the results of a quiz. Because of this, I obviously loved that Winc reveals what is going into your box, so that I could go back and change answers to see how it affected my selection (or just straight up swap things out if I really wanted). After reading over the descriptions and ratings of each wine, and briefly waffling between two whites/two reds versus three whites/one red, I ended up trusting my initial answers and Winc’s initial selections. (And like Maddie, was won over by the promise of trying out some mellow chilled reds.)
My box of one sparkling white, two chillable reds, and that ole standby Summer Water arrived super fast. And overwhelmed by the prospect of trying out four bottles all by myself, I brought one red and the white over to friends’, and the three of us proceeded to polish them off with lots of enthusiasm and zero complaints. One was the same red Dana recommended above, aka what I will now call the-one-red-I-can-drink, and the other was a festive blanc-de-blancs that had my friend enthusiastically pulling out the rarely-used champagne flutes from their wedding registry. I’m keeping the Summer Water all for myself, and as for that last red? Well, it wasn’t my favorite. But thanks to Winc’s handy flavor profiles, I now know that I enjoy dry and fruity reds, with barely any wood or earth flavors. (The one red I didn’t like was the only one that had the earth slider turned way up.) So I actually ended up learning something that’s eluded me for years.
As for me, I ended up really liking the majority of my delivery. The white wines they picked out for me were deliciously dry and I liked the sauvignon blanc so much it might end up being a replacement for my favorite $20 bottle of Pinot Grigio (the Winc bottle is only $12.99 for members, making it a much more affordable habit). It turns out I still don’t like red wine. Even mellow, chilled reds that half my team loved. But it was nice getting to experiment without the fear of wasting a bunch of money, and I didn’t get a headache, so bonus points for that.
Summer summer summer(water)time
But the real treat of getting to test out Winc is that it ended up being an unexpectedly fun experiment for Michael and I. It felt like when we take our out-of-town friends up to Napa for wine tastings, except in our living room. And unlike Napa, we can get four really solid bottles of wine for the same price we would normally pay for the bottles of wine in the grocery store with feet on them.
So if you’re like me and you’re starting to yearn for summer nights outside sipping a glass of rosé, then head over to Winc and get your personalized wine delivery right now (make sure to use APW’s special link: trywinc.com/apw or click any of the links in this post to get $22 off your first order). And pro tip: if you’re currently in the midst of wedding planning, they have a great wine tasting 101 kit that would be a perfect bachelorette party activity.
This post was sponsored by Winc, the personalized wine delivery service that sends delicious handcrafted wines straight to your door. Take Winc’s six-question quiz and get four bottles of wine specifically selected for your palette (don’t like what you see? Swap out any bottle before you hit order.) Plus, when you become a member, all of your purchases come totally risk free. Don’t like a bottle? Just let Winc know and they’ll take care of it. Click here to get $22 off your first order with Winc (that’s four bottles of wine for under $40.)