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Vial Wines

Wine clubs which ship bottles of wines to their members across the country have been around since way before the internet became their nexus, with each club trying to carve out its individual niche according to how the wines were selected, their prices, size and frequency of shipments, price per bottle, how shipping charges are handled and the preferred profiles of its membership.

But they always came by the bottle.  Matt Dukes and Rachel Vodofsky, who founded Vinebox want to change that.  They target people who want wine by the glass, just as you would order in a restaurant bar.

I told this to an editor friend of mine, who, a fairly heavy drinker as I am, stammered, “Who wants only a glass of wine?”  According to Vinebox, a lot of people do – and not just wine-gender-bending Millennials.  The big question is, How do you ship someone a glass of wine?

“We started around the idea of how could people discover a wine without having to buy a whole bottle,” Matt Dukes says. “It evolved into a wine-by-the-glass concept.”  Which leads us to the matter of wine in a vial or tube. But first, let’s consider what typical Vinebox wine club members get.

“For around $25 a month, a member is shipped three wines, which means they get to try 36 different wines a year,” Dukes explains.  “But to share with friends or a partner, many people order two shipments of the same three wines.”  Taste something that you really like, and you can reorder more glasses on the Vinebox site.

Vinebox arranges exclusive cuvees with its producers, so that members, having tasted a wine and liked it, can’t just go down to the corner wine shop, buy a bottle and thus leave Vinebox holding the proverbial glass.

My shipment came in an attractive box with literature and three presentable vials or tubes of wine, each holding 100 ml. of wine and each sealed with a screwcap.  One was a Barbera, another an Arneis, and the third was a Verdeljo.  The first two – from Italy – can be re-ordered at $9, while the Spanish Verdeljo is $7.  Dukes explains that members can to a certain extent customize the contents of these monthly shipments, such as all, or mostly, red or white.

A key selling point – at least for me – is the fact that the wines are bottled so that all three I tried were fresh and vibrant, presumably through a special process perfected by the “bottling” facility located in France.

Granted, I’m not the typical Vinebox consumer, as I regularly get bottle samples of wine and get to taste wines at trade events and in the winery cellars.  But it strikes me that receive a shipment of three fresh, different glasses of wine every month would be a welcome experiment for seasoned drinkers as well as new ones.  True, a club member can’t quaff her 100 ml glass with dinner and say, wow, I would like another to finish off this meal.

But there are times in life when we want to sample before plunging in, and Vinebox successfully delivers on that desire.

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