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Feedback Please - Zagat Wine Club

m
meeps2002 Aug 31, 2011 08:47 AM

Looking at joining a wine club. Zagat has a pretty solid sounding offer, though I am not sure what I am getting. Is it worth it? Are there better ones out there?

Any experience/feedback would be awesome!

Thanks

  1. m
    MyNameIsTerry Aug 31, 2011 08:55 AM

    What are they currently offering, what do you typically drink and probably most importantly when do they ship and where do you live?

    A lot of wine clubs ship no problem during the middle of the summer when the bottles can get overly warm in shipping trucks IMO. I dropped any wine clubs that don't hold their shipments until mid - late fall and early - mid spring. If you're not going to lay the wines down, it's not as big of an issue but I still would rather trust my local wine store rep in that case personally.

    Joining a wine club is certainly a great way to try out different wines as my wife and I learned a lot about a lot of different wines though wine clubs early on in our wine lives.

    2 Replies
    1. re: MyNameIsTerry
      m
      Mother of four Aug 31, 2011 05:59 PM

      Maybe this wouldn't bother you, but you have to be there to sign for the wine and if not they will take it back to UPS or whoever tried to deliver it. That wine could be sitting around for a long time in not very pleasant conditions.

      1. re: Mother of four
        m
        MyNameIsTerry Sep 1, 2011 08:55 AM

        It's best to use a business address for your delivery address to ensure people are there. You'll get three attempted deliveries, but you can call UPS/FedEx after the first delivery attempt and tell them to hold it and you'll pick up.

    2. z
      zin1953 Aug 31, 2011 05:28 PM

      Let me start off by saying that I spent 35 years in the wine trade, and I dislike MOST wine clubs. Far too often, you get special wines and/or labels that were created only for the wine club (meaning they are wines that the winery couldn't sell and off-loaded on the cheap); OR they are no-name labels purchased at a discount to make the price point of that month's shipment . . . .

      Trust me: if the winery/importer could sell the wine at full price, they would.

      The best wine clubs I know of are either a) from a winery you know and love, or b) from a LOCAL wine store that puts together samplers at a discount, with the hopes that you will love at least some of the wines and buy more.

      12 Replies
      1. re: zin1953
        ChefJune Sep 1, 2011 08:33 AM

        <The best wine clubs I know of are either a) from a winery you know and love, or b) from a LOCAL wine store that puts together samplers at a discount, with the hopes that you will love at least some of the wines and buy more.>

        Ditto!

        1. re: ChefJune
          m
          MyNameIsTerry Sep 1, 2011 08:54 AM

          This is an excellent point, but as I mentioned a non-winery wine club can expose you to a number of wines that you may not otherwise try.

          1. re: MyNameIsTerry
            z
            zin1953 Sep 1, 2011 12:23 PM

            Which is exactly what a good retailer is for!

            1. re: zin1953
              m
              MyNameIsTerry Sep 1, 2011 02:15 PM

              Agreed, if you can find one that has knowledgable staff and not distributors just pimping their stock.

              1. re: MyNameIsTerry
                z
                zin1953 Sep 1, 2011 08:22 PM

                "Distributors" are generally not retailers. Now, I don't know where you live, but in virtually any urban area there are ALWAYS highly respected, dependable retailers with knowledgable employees.

                OK, I can't speak for Salt Lake City, but there are multiple retailers that fit this description in every big city (like New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco), and in many medium-sized and some small cities as well. There are a minimum of five in Berkeley, California (pop. 112,580 in 2010); add in Oakland (pop. 390,724 in 2010), and you have at least three more. And there are probably another 6 across the Bay in San Francisco (805,235 in 2010) . . .

                OK, so California is more "wine-focused" that other states, but I've found great retailers in every city -- large and small -- I've been to.

                Cheers,
                Jason

                1. re: zin1953
                  m
                  MyNameIsTerry Sep 2, 2011 08:21 AM

                  I live in Denver and often do tastings with distributors. They have talked about helping out some of the liquor superstores on the floor, and I've seen my friends working the floor while not re-supplying their stock. The smaller, cult stores obviously don't run into this, but I've seen it on numerous occasion and heard many a tale from my ITB friends.

                  I guess Denver's different in that regard, and I'd expect much better service near wine country in Cali.

                  1. re: MyNameIsTerry
                    Midlife Sep 2, 2011 09:26 AM

                    Are you not patronizing what you call "smaller cult stores"? These are exactly the places you should be trying. I don't know why you apply the word "cult" to small wine shops though. The fact that they're small and that they sell wines you won't find at Costco or in supermarkets doesn't necessarily mean their wines are expensive (if that's what "cult means to you). Give them a try!

                    If you find a distributor rep helping out on the selling floor you are almost certainly in a store that is too big.

                    Note: I think I edited this post while MyNameIsTerry was responding to it. Because states are so different in their licensing, I had looked into the CO laws quickly and had found some material that just got too off-point, so I came back and clarified my post.

                    1. re: Midlife
                      m
                      MyNameIsTerry Sep 2, 2011 09:45 AM

                      Colorado definitely has its share of small, independent wine shops, and I tend to appreciate these more than the bigger liquor marts. However, it's usually a jog or a high price point, so oftentimes I look for the bargains in the bigger stores.

                      I've also seen a number of tastings in both the bigger stores as well as the smaller stores, and neither has to have food. Whether it's strictly legal or not is beyond me. I've got a magnum tasting coming up with my ITB friends, so if I remember, perhaps I'll ask.

                      My initial point was merely to make sure that the OP realizes that this can occur and they're best off finding someone who actually has a knowledge of the entire store and not just their portfolio. Truth be told, you're better off going to a smaller shop.

                    2. re: MyNameIsTerry
                      z
                      zin1953 Sep 2, 2011 09:30 AM

                      Terry,

                      Let me clarify something: when I say "distributors are not retailers," that's true. But that doesn't mean that individual sales reps may not help out on the sales floor at, say, Xmas and other holidays. But they aren't *employed* by the retailer. That said, a distributor may indeed promote his or her own products on the retail floor -- better to get re-orders!

                      But if you read what Chef June posts, THAT'S the key!

                      I spent my half of my 35 years in the wine trade working retail. People would come in and ask for help picking out a wine, say, for dinner. The first thing I would do is ask questions: what kinds of wine do they like, what kind of wines do they NOT like, what is for dinner, how is it being prepared, and so on. Then I'd make some suggestions, and the LAST thing I'd say is "Come back and tell me what you think." The more I got to know an individual's tastes, the better my recommendations will be, and the better able I am able to suggest new wines that the individual may enjoy . . .

                      When I teach wine classes, my suggestion is find a trusted retail, and count on them for 2/3 - 3/4 of your wine purchases, for precisely this reason. But I also suggest they get about 25% of their wines from other retailers -- who knows if you might not discover a better retailer down the road?

                      Cheers,
                      Jason

                      1. re: zin1953
                        m
                        MyNameIsTerry Sep 2, 2011 09:51 AM

                        I don't recall ever saying these people claimed to be employees of the retailer, and I'm pretty sure that they have been in stores as supplemental floor staff (don't know how payment is done in this scenario) in non-holiday situations. Maybe they were trying to hit their quota to get a bonus, I have no idea. Again, I've got a tasting with a bunch of these cats coming up, so I'll try to remember to ask them.

                        I used to know the guy in charge of wine at a local, large wine store. I knew we were on those very terms you suggest when he stopped saying, "this is rater 92 by Parker" and started saying, "you guys will really like this."

                        Chef June indeed hit the nail on the head.

                  2. re: MyNameIsTerry
                    ChefJune Sep 2, 2011 08:48 AM

                    If you frequent one store and get to know the staff/management, you will learn their tastes, and they yours. They will be able to recommend for you based on your preferences that get established over time. This beats a wine club, imho, hands down. Except for the specific winery clubs which offer special bottlings and generally great value.

                    1. re: ChefJune
                      m
                      MyNameIsTerry Sep 2, 2011 09:52 AM

                      +1

          2. b
            budnball Sep 1, 2011 09:21 AM

            I would consider how much wine you are likely to drink in the time span. Not everyone will drink 12 bottles in a 3 month span and those shipments come pretty quick. Not to mention getting things you don't want or like. I would check out the websites of wines you know and enjoy if they are American. Most likely they will have a club and discounted prices for members. This may not be as inexpensive as the Zagat, but you will have more control over what you buy.
            My current clubs are
            Sarah's vinyards
            Sycamore Creek
            Jason/Stephens
            All the above are in the Gilroy-Santa Cruz mountain area.
            Also -Napa Cabs. is a site for discount known Napa and sonoma wines

            1 Reply
            1. re: budnball
              h
              HoosierFoodie Apr 7, 2014 11:43 AM

              I would think that anyone wanting to join a wine club would drink more than a case in three months. That's just one bottle per week.

              The weather/heat part of the equation would worry me. I would recommend finding a good retailer if possible; some of them have wine clubs of their own.

              Good luck.

            2. westsidegal Sep 1, 2011 01:32 PM

              in my part of the country, there are very few delivery trucks that don't reach and sustain a temperature of >85 degrees for most of the day during the summer months.

              since i don't like spending money on cooked wine, the whole idea is a non-starter to me.

              i WOULD consider some sort of club offered by a TRUSTED retailer who i KNOW will deal with this problem for me and who would allow me to pick up the wine from their air-conditioned store.

              44 Replies
              1. re: westsidegal
                z
                zin1953 Sep 1, 2011 01:45 PM

                Agreed!

                1. re: westsidegal
                  b
                  budnball Sep 1, 2011 08:29 PM

                  In a perfect world this world not be a problem. Air conditioned trucks would coddle our precious cargo and loaders carefully tend each case. That just is not the way things work. I would not have much faith in any delivery system to maintain ideal temps. If wine is that fragile, then most grocery stores and liquor stores in small town America will be selling cooked wine. At some point one has to trust that you will get what you pay for. Many shippers will wait for "safe" weather. I'm not denying the problems with heat, but for many people, shipping is the only way of getting decent wine.
                  I have faith that modern wine can handle a bit of warm weather.

                  1. re: budnball
                    z
                    zin1953 Sep 1, 2011 09:48 PM

                    Well . . .

                    When I was an importer, every container I ever used to bring wine into the US was a ***working*** refer.

                    As a national distributor -- be it from one of the wineries I worked for, or the import co. -- every trucking company I ever used to ship wines east from California used refrigerated trucks.

                    Some of my regional wholesalers used ONLY refrigerated trucks for delivery to retailers and restaurants. I wish more did that, but --

                    The BIG problem is with FedEx/UPS: none of their trucks are refrigerated.

                    1. re: budnball
                      westsidegal Sep 1, 2011 11:16 PM

                      <<for many people, shipping is the only way of getting decent wine. >>
                      imho, it is no longer decent after it has been cooking in a UPS truck.

                      <<I have faith that modern wine can handle a bit of warm weather.>>
                      cooked is cooked---whether it has been cooked "a bit" or it has been cooked for more than "a bit" it's the same principal as cooking any other food. the food changes permanently once it reaches a certain temp.

                      on the other hand, faith is faith, and you have your faith.

                      1. re: westsidegal
                        z
                        zin1953 Sep 2, 2011 08:15 AM

                        >>> imho, it is no longer decent after it has been cooking in a UPS truck. <<<
                        Agreed.

                        >>> cooked is cooked---whether it has been cooked "a bit" or it has been cooked for more than "a bit" . . . <<<
                        Like "a little bit pregnant"? ;^)

                        1. re: zin1953
                          westsidegal Sep 3, 2011 02:57 PM

                          exactly!

                          1. re: westsidegal
                            z
                            zin1953 Sep 3, 2011 06:43 PM

                            As I have mentioned before, in terms of temperature storage/transport, I worked for an importer and national distributor. We imported a lot of wine from France into the US, and specifically into the Port of Oakland, meaning the wine had to transit the Panama Canal. We *always* used working "reefers" (refrigerated cargo containers) for the wine.

                            One time, instead of being set to 10-12 degrees Celsius, the contained left France with the thermostat set to 20-22 -- or, in other words, instead of 50-54 degrees F., it was set to 68-71.6 degrees F.

                            "No big deal," I hear people say. And indeed, the wines were GORGEOUS after their ocean voyage -- showed beautifully, with great aromas, nicely developed on the palate with layered complexity . . . delicious! And so we IMMEDIATELY filed a claim with the insurance company! The wines were ruined . . . .

                            The entire container was filled with 1995 Burgundes -- Grands Crus, Premiers Crus, village-level appellations and regional ones -- all from a single producer known for making vins de garde, wines in need of bottle age . . . but by spending weeks on the ocean in the wrong temperature, these wines had matured -- they were ready-to-drink now, and anyone who cellared these wines for the requisite 10, 15, or more years was bound to be disappointed! They had already matured significantly.

                            It took well over a year and numerous tastings with California winemakers (who had worked in Burgundy), along with wine appraisers and auctioneers -- all hired by the insurance company to taste and evaluate the wines before they finally understood and declared the container a total loss . . .

                            Cheers,
                            Jason

                            1. re: zin1953
                              westsidegal Sep 4, 2011 02:00 PM

                              n.b.
                              the temps you are talking about are WELL below the temperatures that the wine would reach in a completely unrefrigerated UPS truck.
                              the interior temp of those trucks can easily reach into the 90s F.

                              1. re: westsidegal
                                omotosando Sep 4, 2011 04:29 PM

                                I ordered wine for delivery this summer, but only from Southern California stores that could get it to me by truck overnight. Everything was fine. i guess a single day on a truck didn't destroy anything.

                                1. re: omotosando
                                  westsidegal Sep 4, 2011 09:43 PM

                                  <<. i guess a single day on a truck didn't destroy anything.>>
                                  1) that could say something about your luck
                                  or
                                  2) that could say something about your palate

                                  1. re: westsidegal
                                    b
                                    budnball Sep 5, 2011 09:26 AM

                                    Wow what a buzz kill. This is a snob's attitude, questioning others palates because they go about it different than you. Should we never by wine from South America or Australia because we can't verify a transportation process? Not everyone has dedicated wine shops nearby. If you can have it shipped, you can send it back, same as a stand alone store. If the wine is no good, don't drink it. simple, if it is cooked send it back.
                                    There is no need to insult others because you disagree with their choices.

                                    1. re: budnball
                                      westsidegal Sep 5, 2011 09:41 AM

                                      not trying to be a <<snob>>, but, in truth, everyone's palate is different.
                                      for instance, my palate is not as sensitive to beer that has been skunked as it is to wine that has been cooked.
                                      as a result, i will buy and enjoy beer that a true beer-lover would shun.
                                      it doesn't mean that the beer-person is a snob for not being willing to drink skunked beer. . . . .

                                      1. re: westsidegal
                                        b
                                        budnball Sep 5, 2011 09:57 AM

                                        This is true and I don't claim to have an advanced palate. How ever if I am enjoying my perhaps inferior plonk, don't kill it by telling me how bad my taste is. I'm sure that most advanced wine lovers enjoyed many things in their early drinking days that they would never drink now. It does not negate the earlier experience. It is the same with buying. If you are not sure of what questions to ask, a wine shop is a very intimidating place. You are still relying on someone elses choices until you feel comfortable making your own.

                                        1. re: budnball
                                          westsidegal Sep 5, 2011 10:24 AM

                                          <<You are still relying on someone elses choices until you feel comfortable making your own.>>

                                          and you might as well rely on someone else who DOES understand and taste the difference and is willing to help you, rather than just relying on the paper label and/or price to make you happy.

                                          for instance, i would NEVER presume to give advice about beer because my palate re: beer is simply not developed enough for me to give GOOD advice about it. that said, if i were the one ASKING for advice about beer, i wouldn't want to be getting that advice from someone whose palate is less sensitive than mine.
                                          the point of most boards is to get the BEST information available. . .

                                          1. re: budnball
                                            m
                                            MyNameIsTerry Sep 5, 2011 11:42 AM

                                            I've had this discussion with my father on many occasions. He's intimidated by my wife and my wine knowledge, and knows that the stuff he drinks (Franza, Inglenook by the jug, and occasionally, on special occasions, Yellowtail) is not the stuff we'd normally choose to drink. However, I always respond to him, and anyone getting into wine, it doesn't matter what I think or what a Master Somm thinks. If you like it, it's good wine. (at least to you, and who am I to argue)

                                            If a wine store is an intimidating place to some, I'd highly recommend wine classes. Many cooking schools and some wine stores offer these, and it's a great way to develop your palate and learn about different wines. It's also why I kind of like wine clubs for those just getting into wine as it will expose you to things you may not necessarily try without the hassle of being intimidated at a wine store.

                                            I've always thought of wine to be similar to art. I may think an art piece is ridiculous and could be done by a ten year old, (I'm not really into abstract art, can you tell?) but that's not to say it's not good art nor interesting to others. And I would never, ever tell someone that I think it's not good art because I realize it's just not fitting for my "artistic palate." Having said that however, cooked wine is wine that has become flawed, and one should hopefully as their palate progresses.

                                            1. re: MyNameIsTerry
                                              westsidegal Sep 5, 2011 12:05 PM

                                              MyNameisTerry:
                                              if your father was paying > $40/bottle plus shipping AND went on a WINE board asking for advice, would you expect that every person on the board should/would adopt an "emperor's new clothes" approach?

                                              i'm in agreement with you if the advice is solicited from family, or other non-wine people.
                                              when you go to a specialized board for advice, why is it so terrible for someone to actually say the obvious?
                                              to continue with your art analogy:
                                              if i solicited advice from the curator of the Getty museum about the art i have hanging in my home, i would not expect him/her to tell me that my reproductions are terrific. . . . .

                                              1. re: westsidegal
                                                m
                                                MyNameIsTerry Sep 6, 2011 03:05 AM

                                                First of all, in my experience, I don't believe wine clubs typically are selling bottles at $40+ per bottle plus shipping, unless you're on a winery-specific wine club. I think almost all people have said you have to be worried about receiving cooked wine from many of these type of wine club shipments during the summer.

                                                It may be obvious to you, but I can't count the times I've been at someone's house when a wine is obviously corked and less experienced wine drinkers are raving about how good it is. Rather than publicly say a person's palate is inexperienced or off, I think you could accomplish the same point but saying it in a different way. Wine is a very intimidating hobby for those just getting into it. Hearing things such as your palate is poor only further adds to the intimidation.

                                                Why not recommend a cheap trial. Take two bottles of cheaper wine that a person knows they like, store one outside in the sun all day and another ina wine fridge or a cool, dark place. Open both at the same time, drink the cooked wine first, then try the other properly stored wine and note the differences in smell and taste. We've done this on numerous occasions when possible for corked wines and friends have been astonished. I can't recall anyone that has said they prefer the corked wine once they taste the one the winemaker intended to be experienced. The same method could be used for cooked wines with likely the same result. And, if a person still likes the cooked wine better, well that's what they like. Oh well.

                                                And to continue with your art analogy continuation of my art analogy. When said art curator tells you your reproductions hanging in your home aren't that great, does that make you like them any less?

                                                1. re: MyNameIsTerry
                                                  westsidegal Sep 6, 2011 07:21 AM

                                                  <<does that make you like them any less?>>
                                                  there must have been some reason for initially asking for the input.
                                                  whatever that reason may have been, should have been satisfied.
                                                  my goal was not to have the OP like or dislike the wines, my goal (along with that of many others on this board) was to give the poster information.

                                                  really, your dad's taste is understandable because the wine's price seems to be a factor in his selection. my point was that wine clubs, typically sell their wines at a much higher price level, especially after the first, lower-priced, "teaser" shipment has been sent. whether it is >$40 a bottle or >$20/bottle, it is still much higher than what your dad is paying. the point is that: it is really questionable if your dad would stick to jug wine if he had to pay much higher prices for it. my guess, is that the answer would be no.

                                                  the suggestion of experimenting on wine is a good one, if they are willing to start the experiment with uncooked wines in the first place.
                                                  also, since the starting quality point with cheap wines may be lower, maybe a better experiment would be to start with a few wines that are at the price level of the wine clubs. would be good if the wines were the same exact wines that the clubs use. (some of which, actually can't be found outside of the club arrangement).

                                                  1. re: westsidegal
                                                    m
                                                    MyNameIsTerry Sep 6, 2011 02:16 PM

                                                    Excellent points.

                                                  2. re: MyNameIsTerry
                                                    b
                                                    budnball Sep 6, 2011 08:45 AM

                                                    Thanx, This is an experiment I can try this weekend.

                                                2. re: MyNameIsTerry
                                                  b
                                                  budnball Sep 5, 2011 12:07 PM

                                                  I am looking for a class at this moment.
                                                  My problem with wine shops is, I am an admited agist. I have a problem with 20year olds as experts on anything (Yeah I know). It feels like I'm buying a car and the sales men are hovering. Yes I want information but I don't want to be upsold.

                                                  1. re: budnball
                                                    Midlife Sep 5, 2011 12:23 PM

                                                    One more butt-in here: When we owned our wine shop we were able to hire a 25 year-old young man who'd been working in restaurants since he was 16 and had such a passion for wine that he because 2nd level Master of Wine by that age. His knowledge and palate were both awesome and we were thrilled to have him around. He did have something of a 'youthful' arrogance to his knowledge but he was almost always right about information and quality comparisons.

                                                    This is all within the perspective that less-'experienced' palates tehd to vary more widely for 'expert' palates. The best way to determine if you can trust someone at ANY age is to build a gauge of comparison on wines you have some knowledge of so that you can tell if your palates are on the same plane, or if you can adjust by some reasonably simple variable (like you prefer slightly less tannic wines than he/shoe does.

                                                    But this young man certainly proved to me that age isn't the barrier to believability that one might think, even in a subject area that would seem to require years of experience. While one can learn a lot about wine evaluation, there are also people (as in any "art) who have a natural ability in that area.

                                                    The only way a salesperson "unsells" me is to appear arrogant or condescending.

                                                    1. re: Midlife
                                                      b
                                                      budnball Sep 5, 2011 12:37 PM

                                                      LOL I am sure your young man was wonderful and I am also sure that I would asked for his father if he was serving me. Not saying it is right, just saying that is me, an age snob! ;-)

                                                      1. re: Midlife
                                                        westsidegal Sep 5, 2011 12:37 PM

                                                        i will even tolerate a certain amount of arrogance if the person is truly giving me good steers.
                                                        competence and accuracy mean more to me:
                                                        just being full of oneself, doesn't disqualify a person from helping me.

                                                      2. re: budnball
                                                        westsidegal Sep 5, 2011 12:24 PM

                                                        budnball:
                                                        imho, many of these wine clubs are corporate versions of what you state you are trying to avoid.
                                                        in addition to the other, aforementioned, inherent, problems of cooking, shipping costs, etc.
                                                        the structure of many these clubs, is intentionally designed to hide the ball in order to induce customers to pay more for the wine than it is worth.

                                                        1. re: budnball
                                                          m
                                                          MyNameIsTerry Sep 6, 2011 03:10 AM

                                                          This hasn't been my experience with wine classes. Sure, you may have younger people teaching them, (although I have not attended a class such as this) but if they have more experience drinking wine than you, so be it. Enjoy the class for what it is, a chance to learn about wine and learn about different wines. If you want, buy a couple bottles of those you like and see if you still like them when you drink them at home.

                                                          The Wine Bible was a great resource in initially developing my wife's and my palate. The section on wine scents was particularly useful and truly paying attention, trying to ascertain the different scents in the wine was our first step in truly enjoying wine. We were fortunate enough to get involved with a number of people in the industry, participating in wine classes and wine tastings where everything is tasted blind. We were taught how to determine the wines in blind tastings based on color, water, rim, legs, scents, etc. But all of our experiences such as these were a direct result of attending a local wine store's wine classes.

                                                          So, I'd say, bite the bullet and see where your wine education leads you.

                                                          1. re: MyNameIsTerry
                                                            b
                                                            budnball Sep 6, 2011 08:33 AM

                                                            The wine Bible was a great gift that a wine friend gave me a few years ago and has been a great help. Am still looking for a class.

                                                          2. re: budnball
                                                            z
                                                            zin1953 Sep 6, 2011 07:49 AM

                                                            You should have taken my classes through UCSC Extension . . .

                                                            1. re: zin1953
                                                              b
                                                              budnball Sep 6, 2011 08:41 AM

                                                              naw, too sobersides for me. LOL i'm looking for fun!

                                                              1. re: budnball
                                                                z
                                                                zin1953 Sep 6, 2011 04:27 PM

                                                                I don't know if I should be offended or not at that . . . probably because I have no idea what "sobersides" means. And if you ever spoke to people who took my classes, I'd be willing to bet that -- judging from the number of people who took more than one -- they would say they had fun . . . .

                                                                It's a moot point, anyway, as I now live in Berkeley, not Santa Cruz, and I no longer teach in Sunnyvale & Cupertino for UCSC Ext.

                                                                1. re: zin1953
                                                                  b
                                                                  budnball Sep 6, 2011 05:09 PM

                                                                  No need to be offended, Jason. It was a joke. but your approach is maybe too hmm....... professorial for me. I'm afraid i would have to pass tests. Of course I could leave a small bottle of Calvados on your desk.

                                                                  1. re: budnball
                                                                    z
                                                                    zin1953 Sep 6, 2011 05:33 PM

                                                                    Professorial?!?!?!? Good lord, no! Read "An Ideal Wine" by David Darlington and see how professorial I am . . . .

                                                        2. re: budnball
                                                          westsidegal Sep 5, 2011 12:31 PM

                                                          imho, many of these wine clubs are corporate versions of what you are trying to avoid.
                                                          in addition to the other, aforementioned, inherent, problems of cooking, shipping costs, etc.
                                                          the structure of many these clubs, is intentionally designed to hide the ball in order to induce customers to pay more for the wine than it is worth.

                                                      3. re: budnball
                                                        z
                                                        zin1953 Sep 6, 2011 07:11 AM

                                                        >>> Should we never by wine from South America or Australia because we can't verify a transportation process? <<<

                                                        I never do . . . there are certain importers KNOWN for ONLY using reefers, and I buy my wines from them. Again, we are not talking about <$10 bottles, but we aren't talking >$100 either!

                                                        FWIW, there are four types of ocean-going shipping containers commonly used in the transport of wine: 1) dry box, your regular, "normal" container; 2) insulated, take a dry box and add *either* a thermal insulating blanket placed over the goods within, *or* lined with sheets of styrofoam; 3) an insulated refrigerated container BUT switched off to save money; and 4) a *working* (switched on) refrigerated container.

                                                        One also pays extra for placement -- below the waterline, below deck, etc.

                                                        Keep in mind that whenever the ship crosses the equator, things can get damned hot! Virtually every shipment of wine that comes from the Southern hemisphere to the Northern one (or vice-versa) is in a working reefer -- the problems arise when in transporting goods east-to-west . . . .

                                                        Some East Coast importers do not use working reefers, some all-year round, others only in the winter months . . . the theory being no equator-crossing, no need for refrigeration. I would say "bull$#!+," and I avoid these importers.

                                                        Cheers,
                                                        Jason

                                                        1. re: zin1953
                                                          Midlife Sep 6, 2011 09:40 AM

                                                          Jason, I'm beginning to have nightmares from this conversation. BUT..............In the 3+ years we owned our shop I don't think a delivery ever came in a refrigerated truck. Not from Southern, Youngs, Henry, Wine Warehouse, not even from the delivery services for the several higher -end brokers we bought from. There may have been some kind of air circulation unit on some of them, but not refrigeration.

                                                          This was in southern Orange County, CA, but the temps sometimes got well into the 90's and most of the wines came from warehouses 40-50 miles away. By the end of the day (because we were on the Southern end of some of the delivery routes) I would be extra careful in checking for warm bottles. I almost never found any. Almost always the bottles were around the same temp as our store (which was VERY expensively kept at around 68°) if not cooler to the touch.

                                                          Can I sleep at night........ or did much of the wine I sold mature too quickly? I would expect that much of what we sold was in the category of 'hold for a few weeks to a year or two' and not 'long-term hold', but still.........................

                                                          1. re: Midlife
                                                            z
                                                            zin1953 Sep 6, 2011 01:01 PM

                                                            Keep in mind I am talking about importers, not local wholesale deliveries. There is a significant difference between a weeks-long, trans-oceanic voyage through the Panama Canal, and a day on the SWS/Young's Mkt./Wine Warehouse truck . . . I would worry if Southern's Cerritos warehouse (or even their main Northern California warehouse in Union City) were not temperature controlled, for example, but not so much about a day on a truck in the Metro LA-OC-SD corridor. OTOH, I would worry, for example, about summertime deliveries in Palm Springs, Bakersfield, etc. if the truck weren't refrigerated.

                                                            I, too, would check the temperature of the bottles in hot weather, and even refused delivery on one or two occasions, but -- I agree -- I, too, *almost* never found any "warm bottles."

                                                            Broad generalization: I have consistently found that European wines on the West Coast tend to mature 1-2 years sooner than that same wine that is only shipped to the East Coast. East Coast wines, in turn, tend to mature 1-2 years sooner than bottles shipped, sold, and aged in London, which in turn, mature sooner than wines that never leave the château/domaine.

                                                            Cheers,
                                                            Jason

                                                            1. re: zin1953
                                                              omotosando Sep 6, 2011 04:42 PM

                                                              Anyone happen to know if K&L uses refrigerated trucks to ship between their warehouse in Northern California and their Hollywood store? I always assumed so, but I actually have no idea.

                                                              1. re: omotosando
                                                                z
                                                                zin1953 Sep 6, 2011 05:32 PM

                                                                I have no idea, but it's rarely hot enough to worry too much about . . . (IMHO, of course).

                                      2. re: westsidegal
                                        mcf Sep 4, 2011 02:30 PM

                                        And that's before it sits out on the porch in the sun! (Some wine stores leave the boxes without a signature, I don't know why).

                                        1. re: mcf
                                          m
                                          MyNameIsTerry Sep 5, 2011 11:24 AM

                                          That's a violation of I believe a national law and should not occur. Regardless, any shipments of wine should always be sent to a place of employment if possible, or a home where someone is always home. And any reputable shipper of wine (including clubs) should ship only during cooler months.

                                          1. re: MyNameIsTerry
                                            mcf Sep 5, 2011 11:27 AM

                                            Yes, they say that someone must be home to sign for it, but the shipper leaves theirs on my porch, but not other shipper's. Go figure. I have to say, it's much more convenient, so they're the only ones I ship from as a rule, otherwise I buy local.

                                            1. re: mcf
                                              Midlife Sep 5, 2011 11:39 AM

                                              If the 'shipper' is UPS or FedEx then the shipper has to be a licensed wine shipper and whomever is paying the cost is charged $4.25 for a REQUIRED adult signature. As far as I know that's a state-by-state law, but is the same wherever shipping to individuals is allowed.

                                              The wholesale wine and spirits lobby is trying hard to stop your ability to receive these shipments at all......... and one of their major charges is that alcohol gets into the hands of minors this way. If your shipper is NOT requiring an adult signature they are helping the possibility that you will not be able to buy wine this way at all.

                                              Just putting another perspective oin this.

                                              1. re: Midlife
                                                mcf Sep 6, 2011 05:16 PM

                                                I mixed my terms... I used shipper where I meant to say seller. The seller says a signature is required, but for this seller, it's always been left outside with no sig. I'm not naming the seller nor the shipper to protect the process and the parties involved, and I know it's not the way it's supposed to be, just the way it is with this one seller.

                                                1. re: mcf
                                                  Midlife Sep 6, 2011 05:40 PM

                                                  Just noticed that I mixed terms as well. In my post UPS/FedEx is the 'shipper' and the "shipper (who) has to be a licensed wine shipper" is the seller. I've heard of cases where FedEx/UPS has left wine shipments without a signature (usually where they know the recipient from previous deliveries) but it's not legal and is essentially taking $4.25 of the seller's money for no service.

                                      3. Midlife Sep 1, 2011 11:42 PM

                                        All the summer heat warnings posted here are legitimate and good reason to not join at this time of year.

                                        Zagat is part of the same "club" company as the Wall Street Journal and 4 Seasons clubs. The company is Laithwaite's. My experience (with 4 Seasons) has been reasonably good for wines that average around $13 a bottle. Pretty decent quality about 90% of the time. A friend of mine has been buying from them for a couple of years and he's been happy with them. He's why I tried them.

                                        That said........ I only got the initial half-price order and one additional one before cancelling. Explanation: I just decided that I'd rather follow recommendations here and from other sources at that price range. On top of that I had a bad experience with them in that they're supposed to send you an email prior to each shipment and you have the option to refuse it ahead of time. In my case I never got an advance email but did receive one telling me that a shipment would be delivered the next day (so I could be there to sign). I refused it, called them, and cancelled my membership. No problem.

                                        Buying in the volume they do, I think they do get some decent values but so do places like Total Wine and many large volume retailers. Even smaller shops get good values. I think I'd rather be able to ask someone in a shop I trust to recommend something in the $13+ range. That also allows me to buy only the varieties I want to, instead of taking a range of them 'blind'.

                                        Going to retailers wine tastings is a great way to taste before you buy. Not a huge selection at <$15 where I live, but enough to get a feel for the palate and sincerity of the shop.

                                        As zin1953 says....... that's what a good retailer is for.

                                        1. j
                                          jbuzzrmr May 25, 2013 02:52 PM

                                          i have liked the wines but I did not get advance emails as indicated. Probably will cancel because of that

                                          1. m
                                            mariliaveras Oct 3, 2013 02:15 PM

                                            Do NOT join Zagat Wine. Customer Service is not just horrible, It's inexistent. They say in the website you can send emails, but I've send them 5 emails so far and all of them bounced back to my Spam box as invalid recipient. Then I try calling by phone and the waiting list is so long that I couldn't really wait any longer for someone to talk to me. They sent me a case a while ago without my approval and I had to send It back and cancel It in the credit card. Im trying to cancel my membership Its been over a month and with no success. Don't fall in their trap, don't give them your credit/debit card information.

                                            1. a
                                              amwf Oct 13, 2013 06:00 PM

                                              As others have pointed out, this is a rebranding of Laithwaite's wine club. I do agree that clubs can give one exposure to new and different wines. However, the truth of it is these are often control brands or dumps.

                                              As for customer support, it is always going to be lacking. This type of business is narrow margin, and they really don't offer many options. That's the case for all wine clubs, in my experience.

                                              For actual exposure to new wines and experiences, just ask the clerk at a local wine shop, or take a wine class. There are plenty of wine schools across America, which would fit the bill. There is a good list of wine schools at the bottom of this WSJ article. Cheers! http://guides.wsj.com/wine/learning-a...

                                              1. s
                                                sunshinetricia Oct 26, 2013 08:48 AM

                                                I actually did a full review of Zagat including video (http://www.wineclubreviewsandratings....). The clubs is part of Direct Wines, so it is tied into Laithwaites, WSJ Wine Club, and Virgin Wine Club.

                                                There are definitely some pros and cons. You get a lot of wine to try for the price. If you are newer to wines, you can get a good idea of the varietals that you like more than others. If you are having over a lot of people and need reasonably priced wine, it is definitely that.

                                                If you are really into wine and know exactly what you like and like high quality wine, it is probably not for you.

                                                I'm attaching a picture of how mine actually looked when it arrived as compared to what they show on the site. Pretty much exactly what they advertise!

                                                I have a couple of favorites right now including California Wine Club and Plonk. Both are geared more toward people looking to explore good wines in different ways.

                                                 
                                                1. m
                                                  mariliaveras Oct 26, 2013 12:04 PM

                                                  The first offer is good, Its to bait you to subscribing.The problem is getting rid of the subscription that comes with the offer. Customer Service just doesnt exist and you wont even be able to send an email message to them.

                                                  1. c
                                                    chriskorus Mar 25, 2014 08:17 AM

                                                    Don't do it!!!! Not Zagat nor Laithwaites, since they're the same club. Unless you can be home to receive their shipments to sign for them. I got several orders, and the wine was fine though sometime overrated. It was a pain always being there for the signature. However, once time the delivery got screwed up, and I told the shipper to send it back. I got a refund for the shipment but not for the deposit on futures, which they really should have refunded if they ever expected me to buy again. I'd tread cautiously, unless you have a doorman or similar to sign for you.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: chriskorus
                                                      Midlife Mar 25, 2014 09:05 AM

                                                      ALL US wine deliveries require an adult signature. You'd have to sign for any wine from any source. If they will ship via FedEx you can have your shipment diverted to a FedEx Office and pick it up yourself. UPS will do the same thing, but I think they charge $5 for the change.

                                                      I'm not a fan of either of the clubs, but pick-up is an option for many people.

                                                    2. z
                                                      zoomite Mar 29, 2014 03:35 AM

                                                      Don't do it! I joined because the first case was such a good deal. The wines were only okay (but it was still a good deal).
                                                      I subsequently received offers from ZagatWine for wines outside of the wine club and as a result ordered 2.5 cases. I will not bore you with the details but it is six weeks and numerous phones calls (much of the time either being spent on hold or speaking with what appeared to be completed untrained phone reps) and emails later, I still do not have my wine. I have, however been charged. The service and organization is abysmal - really horrible. If there is a problem, there is no recourse. in my opinion they are bordering on fraud and I am at a point of registering with the attorney general's office. I think the Zagat family is just trading on a strong brand.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: zoomite
                                                        Midlife Mar 29, 2014 09:24 AM

                                                        Just do you don't take it ALL out on the Zagats, you should know that this club is operated by Laithwaite's. They also run the Wall Street Journal club. Not to say the Zagats shouldn't be concerned about poor customer service in their name.

                                                        1. re: zoomite
                                                          jlbwendt Mar 29, 2014 06:15 PM

                                                          No recourse? Did you contest your credit card charge?

                                                        2. k
                                                          kattykat Apr 6, 2014 05:32 AM

                                                          It's all a scam! I am just about ready to contact the Better Business Bureau and my state attorney general about them.
                                                          I replied to a no obligation offer. They took my credit card info and gave me a delivery date. I moved heaven and earth to be home- no delivery. When I called to pursue this, I was told that because I had opted out of a previous wine club agreement I was declined; how nice of them to forget to notify me! I had only joined one wine club, and that was with a company of another name, witch also stated that one could opt out at any time. Nice to know they let you do this but at the penalty of being labeled for life. Remember here, my offer from Zagat specifically said "no membership obligation". I wrote to complain about this situation, my response was a very sarcastic voice mail from customer service that I could now call in and get the offer.
                                                          I say too little too late. I am very angry that I wasted a vacation day on this deal and am more than irritated that my experience with another company was exploited; that sarcastic message just stoked my anger further.
                                                          I am thinking that this is a company that you want to stay away from- VERY far away from!!!
                                                          In the meantime, I visited several local stores and found a great one that offers frequent wine tastings, lots of deals on wine and ALWAYS gives 20% off a case of wine- any mixture of wines. With the price of shipping, I don't think Zagat can top that. You probably have an equally good opportunity in your area, and your local vendor will not likely gossip about you, or abuse your patronage.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: kattykat
                                                            z
                                                            zin1953 Apr 6, 2014 07:26 AM

                                                            Yours is an all-too-typical experience.

                                                            Thank heavens you found a real, live RETAILER to deal with!

                                                            1. re: kattykat
                                                              Midlife Apr 6, 2014 10:32 AM

                                                              My experience was with the Laithwates part if this company. I got the initial shipment (worth the price), bought one more, then received a third shipment I had not agreed to. I called, they had it picked up, and canceled my membership for me. No problem.

                                                              Sure, it was possibly scammy to ship without permission, but they took care of it. Dealing with them is something of a minefield, which it shouldn't be, but "scam" may be a bit harsh.

                                                              On the time waste....... I've posted before that FedEx will redirect the shipment for pickup at one of their locations for no cost; I think UPS charges $5 for that service. Either way, it beats waiting around all day. The signature thing is not Zagat's rule; blame ATF.

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