I've been a part of wine clubs since I first got into wine. First, I was part of Stryker Winery's great wine club. I went to killer parties in Sonoma Valley and got awesome Alexander Valley Zinfandel every few months. The great deals offered by more corporate wine clubs, such as Touring & Tasting Magazine's wine club and Zagat's wine club, seem too good to be true, but I decided to try them out. These corporate wine clubs do not give you an excuse to drive into wine country. They do not invite you to members-only parties, where you can indulge in the Bacchic rites with a bunch of like-minded spiritualists (if you get my meaning). But the promotions make them very inexpensive.
Touring & Tasting's wine club offers you six bottles of wine, shipping included, for $49.99. I received $152-worth of wine for fifty bucks, and so far all of the wines taste good. Zagat's wine club offers a similarly mind-blowing promotion: 12 bottles of wine plus 4 professional tasting glasses for $69.99; shipping costs an addition $19.99. Both of these promotions are only for the first month. The price of Touring & Tasting's wine club goes up to $99.99 per shipment (shipping included) and Zagat's goes up to $139.99 plus $19.99 shipping per shipment.
I can't review Zagat's wine club, but I can offer the Touring & Tasting wine club review. First, it's fun. You get three white wines and three red wines. The wines are from all over the world, and, like I mentioned, their combined price was $152. They are a mixture of old world and new world, but I think it's safe to say the club has California-styled palates in mind. The benefits of joining a corporate wine club instead of a wine club offered by a specific winery are that you get to sample wines from multiple wineries and the discounts are greater. It's a great way to discover new wines. It's not as much of a lottery as it is standing before a wall of wine in a wine store: these wines are hand-picked by multiple specialists.
However, as with all things corporate, these wine clubs do not have the personal touch that the individual wineries offer with their wine clubs. When you find an awesome winery and join their club, you become a part of something bigger than yourself. The Zagat wine club and the Touring & Tasting wine club deliver the good wine to you, but it's up to you to organize the party.