Specialty wine subscriptions are booming right now. Here’s how to get the goods delivered to your door

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Specialty wine subscriptions are booming right now. Here’s how to get the goods delivered to your door

Let’s be real, we’re not going to a wine bar anytime soon. While the city is awash with stellar new (permanent!) bottle shops, we’re equally blessed with refreshed selection of wine subscription services. Each offers more than your standard LCBO fare—some focus specifically on Spanish bottles and skin-contact wines, while others scour the province for a curated selection of Canadian-made vino. And they range in style and commitment level, with a range of price points for every budget. All you need is a credit card and a bottle opener. Here are some of the most interesting options.

Albae

Albae acts as Toronto’s unofficial ambassador to Spain, showcasing an all-around great selection of Spanish-made bottles. The big draw here is the focus on (affordable!) indigenous grape varietals like mencia, macabeo, and garnacha. If those don’t ring a bell, then the club’s educational lean will come in handy: bottles have info sheets (via QR codes) that dive into all the qualitative and quantitative details of each wine, including who made it, what to pair with it, and the elevation of the vines. $110 and up. Albaewineclub.com

In Wines We Trust

For indecisive drinkers, In Wines We Trust acts as a bonafide personal wine shopper. When signing up, a questionnaire drills you on your drinking preferences: Do you like orange wines? Big, bold reds? How adventurous are you? Do you like oak in your wines? What do you want to pay? Based on your answers, the club curates three bottles to your tastes and ships them out monthly. $95 and up. inwineswetrust.com

Eight Kilos

When the pandemic put a pin in their nine-to-fives, event planner Roxanne Chapman and sommelier Ben Hodson learned the art of the pivot. Now, they are at the helm of Eight Kilos, a wine club offering two-, three- and six-bottle packs, plus monthly subscription options. Expect classic wines from classic regions, as well as bottles from standout small producers like Vietti, Rajat Parr and Domaine de Beaurenard. Members can tune into a virtual wine group or one-on-one tastings. $115 and up. Eightkilos.com

Grape Witches Wine Club

While the Grape Witches now reign over a natural wine empire in the city’s west end, many moons ago they started off as just a wine club. You can pick up single bottles at their home base Grape Glass or opt into their wine club for monthly deliveries. Two differently priced levels of monthly subscriptions are a guaranteed good time, or if you’re looking for something specific, toggle over to their two- and three-bottle packs, with themes like “Italo Disco Reds,” “Carbo County,” and “Let’s Go to Sicily, Okay!” $90 and up. Grapewitches.com

Crushable Club

For proud patriots, every month Crushable Club hands the mic to a different Canadian natural wine producer, who helps curate a vertical tasting of three different bottles. Ontario winemakers are well represented, but hard-to-source west coast bottles—Similkameen Valley’s Riesling mavens Scout and Vancouver Island’s Averill Hill—are the big sell. $108 and up. Crushable.club

Trail Estates

Yes, Trail Estates primarily includes their Prince Edward County-born bottles in the winery’s monthly wine club. But winemaker Mackenzie Brisbois also uses the club as a moment to host an impromptu class on terroir, pairing up bottles from her cellar with comparable options from global natural producers. Past boxes have matched a county Cabernet Franc with Clau de Nell’s Loire Valley Cabernet Franc, and Trail Estates’ skin-contact Riesling with skin-contact Chenin Blanc from South Africa. $125 a month. Trailestate.com

Real Wine Club

A large chunk of the city’s natural wine comes via the good folks at The Living Vine. While they mainly deal in full-case sales, their monthly wine club ships out an assortment of twelve natural or biodynamic bottles. You can’t customize the shipments, but who cares; the Living Vine team cherry picks their favourite cult classic wines, odd-ball bottles, and exciting options from producers to keep on your radar. Selections run the rainbow of white, red, rosé, and skin-contact—keep an eye out for picks from Eric Texier, Meinklang, and Henri Milan. From $350. Realwineclub.ca

Lake Inez Weird Wine Club

The East End wine bar is still committed to serving you wine during lockdown, if only via delivery. The bar’s new no-commitment wine subscription offers two levels of ‘freaky and sexy’ natural wines. The ‘Refresher Pack’ includes five different bottles, plus a bottle of Miller High Life for good measure (It’s the ‘Champagne of beers!’). Or, jump up a price tier for more exclusive bottles (plus another requisite bottle of Miller High Life). Both tiers include notes from the Lake Inez team’s wine diaries. $215 and up. Website

Kwaf

If you’re looking to drink local, Kwaf curates six Ontario-bred bottles from across the province in their monthly packs. They zero in on non-LCBO offerings, picking through winemaker’s stock and curating cases of limited-allocation wines from a range of provincial vineyards. Customize your shipment to red, white, or mixed. $135 and up. Kwaf.ca

Charlie’s Burger

As the wine arm of the once-clandestine supper club, Charlie’s Burger wine club has been delivering bottles to doorstops for almost a decade. Their monthly offerings include anywhere from two to six bottles, depending on price or producer (you’ll oft find bottles made specifically for CB). If you have money to burn, add the cheese pairings from Cheese Boutique’s Afrim Pristine, the variety of dry-aged butchery, or opt for the more expensive ‘reserve’ wine box—expect grail bottles from the libraries of their favorite producers. $117 per month. Cbwineprogram.com