Remember lingering for hours at your favorite restaurant with friends, a bottle of wine or two anchoring the table? The occasional “oooh, this is so good, I’ll have to buy a bottle to take home!” after a memorable sip? It’s been a minute. We’re now more apt to buy a couple of bottles at a neighborhood wine shop, our living rooms now a tasting room and our hangouts with friends conducted over Zoom.
That doesn’t mean the wine drinking has stopped, though. Wine clubs are booming, with companies like Winc and Bright Cellars delivering curated collections to your doorstep each month. But as we continue to emphasize supporting local businesses first, why not look for something a little closer to home? A handful of local restaurants and wine shops have launched their own monthly wine clubs, some inviting customers to a Zoom tasting led by knowledgable sommeliers, others including books alongside the bottles.
Whether you’re a wine newbie or an experienced oenophile, a subscription to one of the following clubs will help keep your own wine collection well-stocked for the foreseeable future.
Stationing yourself by the fire pits at this West End hangout is a surefire way to enjoy a glass of wine outside this winter, but if you want to continue the sipping at home, Alcove’s wine club will do the trick. Each month, subscribers can pick up a box featuring two wines selected by Alcove owner and wine aficionado Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli, with an emphasis on new regions (January’s wine club highlighted bottles from Piedmont in northwest Italy). To sign up, e-mail [email protected] or order through Toast under the “retail wine” tab.
The Prudential’s behemoth Italian marketplace has everything from freshly made pasta to pillowy Panettone, but wine lovers would be wise to direct their attention to the Eataly Wine Club. The knowledgeable staff at Eataly Vino — a wine shop on the market’s second floor — select three to four bottles for subscribers each month, which are accompanied by tasting notes, pairing suggestions, and recipes, all delivered to your door. Sign up for a subscription by e-mailing [email protected] or calling 617-807-7310.
It’s all about natural wines at Cambridge’s Forage, a neighborhood bistro that emphasizes locally sourced, seasonal fare. Each month, guests can choose boxes of four, eight, or 12 wines, where they might find bottles like a 2019 Otskhanuri Sapere from Gvantsa’s Wine, or a 2015 Weissburgunder from Heidi Schröck. Orders can be placed through Toast — and if you like what Forage picks out for you, you might want to try its Thursday night wine dinner for two.
Shortly after the pandemic began, Frank McClelland’s Beverly restaurant, Frank, launched the restaurant’s first wine club, offering curious imbibers and practiced oenophiles the chance to choose from a three-, six-, and 12-bottles per month subscription. Orders are shipped on the 15th of each month, and feature small producers, hard-to-find varietals, and some of McClelland’s favorites, like a 2019 Division-Villages “Méthode Carbonique” Pinot Noir. To sign up for February’s haul, order by Feb. 1.
You may have dipped into this Waltham-based chain for a bottle of wine, a six-pack of beer, or some liquor to help round out your bar cart (like a cocktail kit for the Boston.com Cocktail Club, which hosts weekly cocktail classes). Now you can join CruBox, Gordon’s wine club that launched in November. The monthly subscription includes four bottles of wine from around the world that revolve around a theme — January’s focused on “hi-low” wines — and includes suggested pairings and a Zoom invitation to a virtual tasting. The price includes delivery within the Boston and MetroWest area, though out-of-state delivery is available for certain states. Sign up for your first box here, where you can subscribe for one, three, or six months, or an entire year.
This Somerville bôite has continued to flex its creative muscles throughout the pandemic, offering events like murder mystery dinners and a winter market. In December, they launched the Juliet Wine Club, a three-month subscription curated by “wine commander” Katrina Jazayeri. On the first Thursday of each month, subscribers will be able to pick up a box containing four wines; the following Friday, Jazayeri will hop on a Zoom meeting to walk everyone through each bottle, which will all center around a theme. Sign up for a subscription on Juliet’s Toast page.
The Urban Grape
The South End wine shop is known for organizing wines by its progressive scale, which breaks wines down by their body as opposed to their region or varietal (a light-bodied wine might be a 1 or 2, while a heavier-bodied wine might be a 5 or 6). You’ll gain excellent practice “drinking progressively” with a subscription to The Urban Grape’s wine club, which comes in three options: The Urban Sampler, an affordable option for those just getting into wine; The Urban Connoisseur, a selection for wine fans hoping to expand their horizons; and The Urban Cellar, which includes a lineup curated by owner TJ Douglas that is meant to add to or start a cellar collection. Choose the club that’s right for you and sign up here.
Have you been meaning to join a wine club and a book club this year? Wild Child has you covered on both fronts. The Somerville spot, located upstairs from its sister wine bar, Rebel Rebel, at Bow Market, is an experimental space dedicated to natural wine and literature by women, people of color, and the LGBTQI+ community. There are three club options available: A book club, a wine club, and a book and wine club; the last two include two bottles of wine per month. Subscribers of the book and wine club will also receive one book, wine notes, supplemental reading, a bookmark or postcard, and a playlist, plus an invitation to join the club’s monthly Zoom meeting. Pick up and delivery is available; fill out this form to sign up.
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