Tasting Room Is Bringing Wine Tasting To The People

Make the most of your nights in with Tasting Room.

When my weekends went from super busy to nothing, I fell into a rut real fast. Friday and Saturday nights were spent on the couch, watching movies I'd already seen. After a few weeks of doing nothing, I decided I needed something new! Something spicy!

I asked my friends if they were doing anything fun - there were nightly walks, organizing DIYs, some rewatches of Parks And Recreation… ugh, we'd really done it all, hadn't we? One friend told me she was waiting for her Tasting Room wine kit to arrive - she took a short quiz online detailing some taste preferences, like light or dark chocolate, and based on her answers, they were sending her 6 miniature bottles of wine to taste and rate, before she got 4 full-size bottles.

I'd tried a wine subscription before, but after 2 months, I really wasn't impressed with what they were sending me. She told me to be quiet about my mediocre experience - with Tasting Room's mini-starter kit, you get to really figure out the wines you like, and when you continue rating, the algorithm learns what you really like. And it's all high-quality wine, from some of the best vineyards from all over the world.

She and her husband were going to make a charcuterie plate and taste all the wines.

That sounded so cute! My goodness did I miss a good glass of wine with some fig jam, brie spread, and prosciutto. And we'd been buying the same 3 reds all quarantine. I'll admit, I'm nervous to try anything new.

I thought I'd wait for my friend's kit to arrive, and then her full-size kit to arrive before I thought about purchasing, but I was so bored, and the kit wasn't too expensive, so I bought it!

Tasting Room
6 Mini Bottles In Your Tasting Kit
Full-Sized Bottles Of Your Favorites
Try Tasting Room Today For $9.95!

I picked up some soft goat cheese, hard gouda, this other cheese that smelled good, honey, dates, olives, thin crackers, and a little soppressata. When my friend's kit arrived, she told me she had so much fun, and she really loved a couple of the wines - she told me she could also finally articulate why she didn't love the others.

The kit arrived in a sleek black box. This was way easier than putting on a mask and going to the liquor store, trying not to bump into anyone as I browsed.

I opened it up to reveal my 6 little bottles. Yay! I assembled my cheese plate and grabbed two wine glasses - one for the reds, and one for the whites. As I drank, I followed along with the guidelines from the kit - it helped me describe the different wines. Were they dry? Jammy? Were there notes of chocolate? Melon?

It was really fun! And I'd been looking forward to it all day. I'm so excited for my first month's full-sized shipment to come - it ended up being super affordable at around $13 a bottle. The rating process is so thorough that I'm also confident it's going to be good. Tasting Room gives you notes on every bottle you get, so I'd get to do this tasting experience every time if I wanted to.

I never thought I'd have any interest in a wine subscription, but Tasting Room helps make nights-in a lot more enjoyable. Follow this link to get your wine tasting kit for only $9.95 (that's $30 in savings!)

This summer, my partner and I visited a record (for us) number of wineries. We bought wine from nearly every vineyard, hoping we'd amass a substantial collection for the colder seasons when we have less time for vineyard-hopping and more time to cook hearty meals.

Of course, the wine was so good that by the time Fall came, our stash was depleted.

Rather than heading back to all those wineries and trying to figure out our favorite bottles, we decided to look online to see if there was a sort of wine marketplace to find local wines.

At first, we kept finding wine clubs, but they're so obsessed with trying to help you discover your palate - my partner used to manage a restaurant, and we've been drinking wine together for decades, so we generally know what we like. Also, we're willing to pay the right price for a magnificent bottle!

When looking up some of our favorite vintages from our travels, we found one on a site called Wine Access. We were sure it was the bottle because they had in-depth tasting notes, along with a blurb about the winemaking process that included a wonderful story about their unique winemaking process - our tour guide had told us about it, but there were some new facts we hadn't known!

Impressed, we looked at their other bottles and found that their team of wine experts, including a Master Sommelier, specializes in curating a selection of local and rare wines from all over the world. We added the 2015 Halpin Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon we loved to our cart. Next, we were asked to enter an email address.

We paused. They had a wine membership, but we didn't know if we were interested in paying a yearly fee. Thankfully, the membership is completely free. Only 1 out of every 18 bottles make it onto the site, and some of the bottles are so rare and coveted; they only have a small inventory -through our membership, we would be notified by email about the new, limited stocks.

Before we purchased our Cab Sav, we found another from a Napa Valley vineyard we'd always wanted to visit. We'd heard of this bottle - only 5 barrels of it were made, and it's supposed to be excellent. Since we knew the first bottle was gold, we had faith in the second and decided to purchase them both. Everything would be shipped directly to our place in climate-controlled packaging, and they guaranteed it would arrive in perfect condition.

That weekend, we had our neighbors over and prepared beef tenderloin with a blackberry and goat cheese salad - Mmm. It was delicious, and after polishing off the first Cabernet Sauvignon, we opened the second, the 95-point 2014 from Three Twins Vineyard; the corkscrew lifted the cork out to reveal a magnificent burgundy color. I poured, and we drank it down. It was marvelous.

As Fall transitions to Winter, we plan on getting all our bottles from Wine Access. Each bottle comes with meal pairing suggestions, so we can shop by recipe. Not to mention, they have an excellent staff of writers to tell the stories of the wines. I highly suggest reading them to inform or enhance your purchases.

Wine Access is the only marketplace for wine I've ever come across that caters to a higher-end palate.

Special Offer: Wine Access is offering our readers a special discount on select wines this week. Click here to browse the selection.

Every wine enthusiast can remember the first time they experienced a high-end glass of wine. It's an experience that's hard to replicate for the rest of your life, just stopping at neighborhood wine shops and stores.

Wine Access opens the doors to some of the best wineries and regions in the world. Instead of giving you every wine available, they give you access to the finest wines from the most prized vineyards and the limited stocks of bottles that every wine cellar needs. Wine flows everywhere, so Wine Access gives you the best of it.

They also teach you how to be a wine expert you're on your way to becoming; with a team of experts writing about tricky subjects in a way that's understandable for all levels of wine lovers, you can dazzle your guests with tales of the Loire Valley and why some years were better for Riesling than others.

It's not your average wine retailer, so we compiled the most asked questions to answer for you. Here's everything you need to know about Wine Access.

How do they pick the wines?

Wines are chosen by an elite organization of wine experts, including master of wine candidates, writers, and a master sommelier, the highest rank given to wine experts in the world.

The Napa-based team tastes over 20,000 of the worlds best bottles a year, and only about 1 out of every 18 is deemed exceptional enough to be featured on the site. They taste wines from around the world in every grape imaginable, so you'll find a left bank Bordeaux you love just as much as a new varietal from a fresh region.

Is there a minimum amount of cases I need to buy?

Nope! There's no monthly fee, so no matter how much or how little you imbibe, you won't throw away money on a membership or extra wine you didn't need. There is a quarterly subscription option, but it's an optional entry to a specialty selection of wines. All wines are sold at a price negotiated to be lower than retailers, and bottles range from $15 to the upper echelons of rare wines in the thousands. Regardless of what you choose, it will be unique, delicious, and not something you easily come across in a wine shop. Plus, shipping is free if you buy 6 bottles or spend $125!

How will I know if I'll enjoy the wine?

Wine Access provides an in-depth tasting account, unlike any other. They offer stories about the vineyards' unique wine-making processes, critic reviews, and thorough tasting analysis that highlights the notes of the wine and offers aging suggestions and food pairings to create the perfect meal. With clear graphics that measure assets such as body, sweetness, and oak intensity, you'll have a stronger idea of what will please your palate than you'll ever get from the liquor shop. If you subscribe to their emails, you'll learn more about wines. And if a bottle falls short of your standards, Wine Access will refund you a credit for the amount.

Is there anything else I should know?

Yes! They have a daily Discover feature, with mega one-day sales on new and exciting wines. Sign up for the email list before they sell out...which they will.

Also, you must be 21 or over to accept wine.

Wine Access gives you a selection of the world's finest wines, and each and every delivery comes in special climate-controlled packaging, which guarantees that your wine is arriving in optimal condition.

If you prefer California Chardonnays or enjoy trying every fermented grape under the sun, Wine Access is going to make your wine-selecting process smoother than Syrah.

Special Offer: Wine Access is offering our readers a special discount on select wines this week. Click here to browse the selection.


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Kanye Deleted A Tweet From February That Said...

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Lot18 and AMC Present "The Walking Dead" Wine Collection

Pour yourself a tall glass of Rick Grimes, Daryl Dixon, or Negan

Wine lovers and fans of the worldwide hit television series "The Walking Dead" can now order "The Walking Dead" Wine Collection from Lot18 in partnership with AMC. Perfect for your weekly viewing parties or for any occasion, the limited-edition collection features three hand-crafted blends and uniquely designed labels to honor the essence of characters from the series which is currently in its 8th season.

With a limited number of each specially created bottle available, these delicious wines can be purchased exclusively at Lot18.com/TheWalkingDead while supplies last. Just in time for the highly anticipated new season of "The Walking Dead", the sale will go live on Monday, November 6 at 8am ET. The individually selected wines were carefully crafted by the team at Lot18 to highlight their shared characteristics with the beloved characters Rick Grimes, Daryl Dixon, and the villainous Negan.

The Characters Behind the Wines:

Rick Grimes

2016 California Petite Sirah -- Whether he's fighting off a herd of walkers or rallying communities to defend against the Saviors, Rick Grimes is undoubtedly the leader of the group, just as this Petite Sirah would command the attention of anyone who tastes it. Like Rick, this red is a true crowd pleaser - bold, dark and balanced, exhibiting a notable tension between the bright acidity and firm, tannic structure. You'll realize with just one sip that his is a wine that'll never let you down.

Daryl Dixon

2016 California Cabernet Sauvignon -- Resourceful, fearless and capable of handling both the dead and the living, Daryl Dixon is a loner man of few words, but his loyalty to the group is immediately apparent to anyone he encounters. This California Cabernet Sauvignon is similarly reliable, showing depth and an attractive core of ripe black fruits, intermingled with savory nuances of coffee bean and dried herbs. Like Daryl's crossbow, this is a wine you can count on to always hit the mark.


California Bourbon Barrel Red Blend -- He is the man we all love to hate, but you have to respect his uncompromising style. This red blend is also brawny and bold, creating devotees with its robust, extracted flavors of vanilla, dark chocolate and caramel. A portion of the wine was bourbon barrel aged for three months. Composed of 73% Merlots, 18% Zinfandel and 9% Petite Sirah, this is a wine that packs a punch harder than Lucille's, compelling you through the apocalypse and beyond.

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In vino veritas – Latin, for, “In wine, there is truth." And truth be told, whether we're eating a stinky chunk of cheese, a piping-hot dish of spaghetti carbonara, or in most cases, whatever's in the fridge, we want a decent glass (or plastic cup) of wine to go with it. We're not wine snobs, but we want a decent glass to share with friends. Here's another bit of truth: It's nice to learn at least a little bit about which wines pair best with our favorite foods. Wouldn't it make you feel better to have even just a little more knowledge about wine? Okay, but where to start? That's where Tasting Room comes in.

Too many trips to the liquor store, and you're going to start to seem a little Charlie Sheen-ish. That's why wine clubs or subscription services have become such a great option. While there are a bunch of options online, there's no question as to which is my favorite. Raise a glass to Tasting Room by Lot18.

Founded in 2013, Tasting Roomstands out from the pack – first and foremost because it isn't a “club" as all the others are. Tasting Room is a personalized service catered to your specific preferences, and you actually get to taste wine to help you decide which grape varieties, styles and regions you like. No other online service lets you taste first. While other clubs send you the wines they think you'll want, only Tasting Room goes the extra mile to learn – and send you – wines you'll love. It's basically like Netflix for wine.

To get started, they send you 6 mini bottles and you go online to rate them. After that, Tasting Room sends you bottles they've selected for you based on what you like. You can further customize by choosing the number of bottles you receive, select all reds, all whites, or a mix of both. It's under $10 to join, and you can cancel at any time (though why you would is a mystery to us). Not only will you get to taste delicious wines from some of the world's greatest producers, you'll become more educated and less intimidated about wine. I'll drink to that!

There are some other wine clubs out there that are certainly quaffable and deserve attention. What they don't offer, however, are such attractive price points, the flexibility, customization or other perks I love from Tasting Room.

WSJ Wine Club offers two basic plans: their Discovery Club at $149.99 for 12 wines, or their Premier Club at $239 for a case of tiny-production releases. There seems to be only one shipping option of 12 bottles delivered quarterly. With WSJ Wine Club, you can select the varieties and regions you want to receive. You can cancel at any time. They get great reviews, but one common complaint is their $19.99 shipping charge not mentioned in the club package prices. Wall Street…can't be too surprised about the devilish detail buried in the fine print, can you?

New York Times Wine Club offers the impressive perk of a selection team comprising wine pros and even a Master of Wine. They do the choosing, so you cannot taste and select. Like Tasting Room, if you do not care for a bottle, they will send you a replacement. You can join their Times Sampler Club at $90 per 6-bottle shipment or their Reserve Wine Club, which costs $180 per 6-bottle shipment. You can choose the frequency of shipments – either every month, every 2 months, or quarterly. Hopefully you like red wine, since there is no option for an all-white wine subscription.

Gold Medal Wine Club offers 6 packages or “series," as they call them, the cheapest starting at $37 – quite reasonable. All the wines must meet the criteria of having won medals from competitions and accolades from critics. Gold Medal has been around since 1992, so the club is “well aged," so to speak. Gold Medal offers month-to-month memberships, which is nice for those who want to play things by ear. Cons? The site is tough to navigate, and they only offer California wines, so you won't get much variety. Also, a dirty secret of the wine industry is that if a wine doesn't win a medal in one competition, just submit it to another. There are dozens of competitions, and eventually a poor-quality wine might get lucky...and find its way into your club shipment.

Ready to relax with a nice glass of Cabernet, Chardonnay or perhaps a rosé? Now you can let Tasting Room take care of it for you.

Update: The awesome folks at Tasting Room are extending a special discount for our readers. Follow this link to get your wine tasting kit for $6.95 (originally $9.95)!