Virgin Wine Club
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Before we dig into Virgin Wine Club in detail we should include a word or two about Richard Branson and the network of several hundred companies he put together (starting as a teenager).
Most people know the man as the leader of Virgin Airlines and many are aware that Branson got a solid start in business with Virgin Records. He has turned an early effort in mail-order record sales into a billion-dollar group of businesses. As you can see, Branson also includes wine in his massive list of enterprises.
The wine Website tells it this way: “Welcome to Virgin Wines — We sell hand-crafted, international wines that are anything but dull. So, no mass-produced plonk, no overpriced names … just the good stuff, at prices that won't break the bank. Wines are delivered to your door, with a 100% money-back guarantee on every bottle.”
For those interested in jumping into the Virgin world of wine right away, it’s easy enough to select the Wine Clubs tab and check out Explorers Club. Here are the basics for club membership:
Join Virgin Wines Club and Save $100 on 12 Hand Crafted Wines, only $69.99 plus free gift
- Worldwide selection
- Good value for quality wines
- Select all red, all white or best of both
- Introductory price $69.99 plus $19.99 ship and any applicable taxes
Virgin’s wine club managers select an Explorers Club case of wine for each quarter of the year. After the introductory price, future cases are $139.99 plus shipping and taxes. As with most top-shelf wine clubs you can change wines, have delivery delayed or even skip a shipment if you choose. There are no separate membership fees and you may cancel at any time. Members receive tasting notes with all wines as well as an electric cork screw with mood lighting as an introductory gift.
If you would rather do a bit more research, simply make your way through menu choices such as All Types/Colors, All Countries, All Grape Varieties, All Prices or All Style. Either way you should get some very good wine without paying high prices often associated with the “best” wines.
Order Out of Chaos
The Virgin wine Website notes that of the “millions of liters produced very year” there are just a few varieties that meet this company’s standards. This online reseller offers wines that are “handmade in small quantities” and has been doing so for about 10 years. One of the keys to the success of Virgin Wines is the emphasis on quality for a reasonable price. A second factor has to be emphasis on making the wine experience fun.
Branson’s wine managers have a mission: Cut through the confusion, “tell it straight, and take you to the good stuff.” For example, the company is currently focusing on elegant red wines and also urges customers to “Think Pink” by choosing from a selection of nice rose’ wines.
Of course, it’s important to know if all these promises are kept. First of all, Virgin Wines and its club offers are relatively new as wine clubs go. There have been some issues with customer service in the past, according to some who have taken the plunge into the club. The complaints ranged from delivery of wine that was different from the advertised selections to issues with payment and refunds.
But there are as many positive responses to Virgin’s wine efforts as there are negative responses. Customers report that wine selections are very good to excellent. One of the offerings focuses on Malbec wines, known for its dark red color and its strong fruit base. This is a key wine export of Argentina. Some labels have won 2011 awards for excellence. If you’re going to enjoy Malbec, think “deep” and “dark.” Pair this wine with a good steak.
The site also currently focuses on wines from the south of France, which should be of great interest to aficionados around the world.
As with most wine clubs, members have their own personal section of the site. At VirginWines.com the section is called My Virgin Wines. Under this tab are: My Favorites, My Details, My Orders, My Reviews and My Wine Clubs. Each of these sub-sections takes the visitor to the Email Address and Password/PIN page, from which you start your record-keeping and reviewing of Virgin selections.
We found that the My Favorites tab brings us to a page with the message “Whoops. This service coming soon.” There are links on this page for My Favorites, My Details and My Orders. It seems the folks at Virgin Wines are trying to offer a personalized experience in the massive world of wine.
A Short Trip Around the Site
The summer Top 12 suggested wines include a variety that ranges from The Rafter Pinot Noir through the Domaine de Paris Cotes de Provence Rose to the Sassi del Cardinale Gavi di Gavi (Italian white). You’ll also find an education section called the Wine Zone and information on new wines as well as closeout items. For example, the site lists a Chateau du Vallier Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux 2004 at less than half the case price.
There is also an interesting section on the Home page called Top Shelf Collection. Here you’ll find limited quantities of what Virgin calls “The Really Good Stuff.” Whites here are $89.99 for six bottles. Reds are $99.99 per bottle.
Our general impression is that Virgin Wine Club is a legitimate place to learn, enjoy and experience the world of wine. As with all retail efforts there will be some negative experiences and some positive experiences. The site itself is well designed and colorful, with the Virgin red predominate. First-time visitors might want to devote a few minutes to the video featuring lead buyer Andy Baker.
Perhaps the best way for a new visitor to test the wine waters at Virgin Wines is to make a purchase at a comfortable level and keep the 1-866-426-0336 customer service number handy (or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org. At Virgin, “Life is too short for boring wines.”
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