Sunday, December 9, 2018

Plonk Wine Club by Plonk Wine Merchants

Plonk Wine Club by Plonk Wine Merchants Review

Wine Clubs

Product Grade
Report Card Grade
0 Reviews
Best Feature:
Focuses on unusual varietals and organic/biodynamic wine
Worst Feature:
Only 1 person makes selections and no satisfaction guarantee
Best Uses:
Gift for adventurous/organic friends or coworkers
Pricing:
$69.99 per 4-bottle shipment (S&H <u>not</u> included)
Manufacturer:
N/A

Where to Buy

Store Name
Price
$69.99

Overview

Plonk is British and Australian slang for inexpensive wine, so it should come as no surprise that Plonk Wine Club specializes in providing their members with the highest quality wines from around the world all for under $30 a bottle. Founded in 2010, Plonk Wine Club is owned and operated by Etty Lewensztain, a California native who has over 10 years of experience in the wine industry and is certified by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and the American Sommelier Association. In each monthly shipment, Plonk Wine Club members will receive four different bottles of wine to enjoy that have all been personally vetted by Ms. Lewensztain. Members can opt to receive shipments of only red wine, only white wine or a mix of red, white, rosé and sparkling wine. Usually the four bottles will vary in terms of growing region and grape varietal, but occasionally a shipment will focus on a certain region or varietal to help educate members on the nuances between them (ex. a French Pinot Noir vs. one from Oregon).

Similar to other wine clubs, Plonk features wine that has been produced in limited quantities at international boutique wineries and mostly likely would never make it to your local wine store. That said, the self-proclaimed "hippest wine club on the web" differentiates itself from the competition in two significant ways. First, Ms. Lewensztain tries to feature many wines that are produced in an organic or biodynamic style. Second, she tries to expose and educate members to great wines that are made from lesser-known grape varietals and/or in more obscure growing regions. In particular, she likes to showcase wines made from grapes that are indigenous to a certain region. Included with your order is a brief but informative handout with tasting notes on the featured wines, information on their growing regions and food pairing suggestions. In addition to the handout, members (and non-members) can also watch online videos with Ms. Lewensztain, in which she discusses the wines. If you find wines that you like, you can easily reorder them on Plonk's website and will receive a 10% discount if you are a current member. If you order 6 or more bottles, you will also receive a 25% discount on shipping and a complimentary corkscrew.

You can purchase membership to Plonk Wine Club online for about $69.99 a month (shipping & handling is $20 per monthly shipment, but is free on your first shipment).

Product Report Card Grade

We give Plonk Wine Merchant’s Plonk Wine Club a B+ because we like that it features more of an eclectic/unusual selection of wine from around the world, including organic and biodynamic wine. While it is a no-frills membership, the owner makes every effort to give the club a personal touch and encourages members to use her as their own wine consultant. We deducted points because the club appears to have a less rigorous selection process than its competitors, doesn’t have flexible shipping schedules, and doesn’t offer customers a 100% satisfaction guarantee.


 
This Product
Overall Score
Our Awards
Date Reviewed
August 2012
May 2013
June 2013
Pros
organic/biodynamic wines and unusual grape varietals and regions; 10% discount on reorders; free shipping on first order
Premium, limited-supply wines at exceptional values; strict selection process; previous wine selections publicly archived on website; great, responsive customer service; flexible membership; great discounts on reorders; excellent discounts on reordering (up to 35%); referral bonus; gifts are beautifully packaged; if you request red-only shipments, you'll still get 2 different kinds of red wine
Premium, limited-supply Pinot Noirs at great values; excellent reordering discounts (up to 35%) and easy online reordering system; great customer service; all previously featured wines publicly archived on website; referral bonus; gift shipments are beautifully wrapped
Cons
only one person selects wines; only offers monthly shipping; doesn't offer e-cards; need to confirm with them whether they can ship to your state
Doesn't offer instant email notification for gift recipients
Bimonthly shipping is only option; doesn't offer instant gift notification by email; domestic Pinot Noirs only produced in California wineries (none from Oregon)
Shipping Included
No ($20/month flat rate)
No
No
Cost per Bottle (Est.)
$17.50
$39.50 - $49.50
$34.50 - $44.50
Membership Minimum
No
No
No
Wine Options
Red, White, or Combination
Red or Combination
Red
Domestic and/or International
Domestic and International
Domestic (California)
Domestic (California) and International
Selection
An eclectic selection of organic, biodynamic, and limited-production wines produced in some of the best boutique wineries around the world.
Premium, hard-to-find California wines that have received at least a 90-point rating from a national wine publication and won multiple medals at major wine competitions.
Premium Pinot Noirs from boutique wineries in California and around the world that have (mostly) received 90+ ratings from a national wine publication and may have also been awarded a Gold Medal at a major wine competition.
Newsletter
Yes
Yes
Yes
Shipping Options
Monthly
Monthly, Bimonthly or Quarterly
Bimonthly (February, April, June, August, October and December)
Shipping Details
All shipments are sent out on the 1st Monday of each month. If it should fall on a national holiday, shipments will be sent out the following day.
First shipment will arrive within 7 - 10 days of placing your order. Subsequent shipments will arrive sometime after the 15th of the month depending where you live.
Shipments will arrive sometime after the 15th of the month depending on how far away you live from California.
Gift Information
Includes a customized gift card in the first shipment but does not offer email notification.
Offers a free gift card that you can customize and include in your 1st shipment. The bottles are beautifully wrapped and packaged in gift box that features specially commissioned artwork of wine country on the outside.
Complimentary and customizable gift card is included with gift purchase. Bottles in gift shipments are each wrapped in colorful tissue paper, placed in gift bags and stored securely in a beautifully illustrated gift box.
Extras
Free shipping on first delivery ($20 value).
Offers the PLUS! Program that allows current members to add an extra bottle of high quality wine to each shipment for an additional $35 - $45 (or $39 if you pre-pay).
None
Satisfaction Guarantee
No satisfaction guarrantee and all sales are final. If you receive any bottles that are physically damaged, you have 72 hours to report it to Plonk and request an exchange. if you want to cancel your membership, you must do so 7 days before the next shipment is scheduled to be sent out otherwise it will not take effect until the following month.
No satisfaction guarantee, but they will replace any bottles you receive that are corked/damaged at no additional charge. They will refund you for any returned unopened bottles unless they are unable to restock the wine back into inventory for any reason. You can cancel your membership at any time without incurring cancellation fees.
No satisfaction guarantee, but they will replace any bottles you receive that are corked/damaged at no additional charge. They will refund you for any returned unopened bottles unless they are unable to restock the wine back into inventory for any reason. You can cancel your membership at any time without incurring cancellation fees.

ProductReportCard Editors' In-Depth Review


Pros And Cons

Pros

  • Organic/biodynamic wines, as well as unusual grape varietals and regions
  • Few wine clubs offer 4-bottle shipments and it means you'll get to try a bottle a week
  • As a sign-up bonus, Plonk offers free shipping on your first wine delivery
  • Current members receive a 10% discount on all wines purchased from Plonk's website

Cons

  • Only has one expert taster making wine selections each month
  • Deliveries can only be scheduled on a monthly basis
  • Doesn't offer gift notification by email, so it might not be the best club if you are shopping for a last minute gift
  • Plonk doesn't specify which states it can ship to. They ask prospective members to email them if they are unsure as to whether they can receive wine shipments from Plonk and how much wine they can receive in a given year

Key Features

Products
Plonk Wine Club features a wide variety of high quality, affordable wine from boutique wineries in 15 different countries (includes the US, but Plonk only sources from California, Oregon and Washington). These countries vary from appellations in the classic growing regions (ex. France, Italy) to the emerging ones (ex. South Africa, Argentina) and the more obscure (ex. Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia). Many wines will be produced in a winery that practices organic or biodynamic farming methods.
Membership Options
Plonk allows members to sign up for an ongoing membership (that can be cancelled at any time*) or choose between a 3-, 6- or 12-month membership (great for gifts). Plonk sends shipments on a monthly basis and will charge your credit card on the 1st of the month just before your order is sent. In each shipment, members will receive 4 different bottles of wine, and depending on your preference, these bottles can be all red wine, all white wine, or a mix of red, white, rosé and sparkling wines. *To cancel your membership, you must send written confirmation to Plonk at least 7 days before the next scheduled shipment or it will not take effect until the following month.
Recently Featured
Some of the recently featured wines include: a 2009 Samso from the Clos de Noi Winery in the Montsant region of Spain, a 2012 Cortese from the Valli Unite Winery in the Colli Tortonesi in the Piedmont region of Italy, a 2010 Malbec Syrah from the Uco Valley in the Mendoza region of Argentina, and a 2010 blend of Chenin Blanc and Viognier "Little J" from the Joostenberg winery in the Western Cape region of South Africa.
Newsletter
Unlike other wine clubs, Plonk doesn't spend a lot of time or money on glossy newsletters. In each shipment, you'll receive a straightforward handout with tasting notes on the features wines, information on the regions they came from, suggestions for food pairings and fun new recipes to try out.
Extras
For new members, Plonk offers free shipping on the first delivery. Current members receive 10% off of all bottles reordered through the website, and, if you order 6+ bottles, you'll also get 25% discount on your shipping and a free corkscrew.
Gift Information
Plonk will include a customized gift card in the first shipment. They do not offer email notification.
Shipping Schedule
All shipments are sent out on the 1st Monday of each month. If it should fall on a national holiday, shipments will be sent out the following day.
Satisfaction Guarantee
Plonk does not offer a satisfaction guarantee, and all sales are final. If you receive any bottles that are physically damaged, you have 72 hours to report it to Plonk and request an exchange.

Reputation

Plonk has received a lot of press online, but I wasn't able to find any independent (unbiased) customer reviews on the club. What I like about Plonk is its focus on finding high quality, unique wine at great values and the emphasis it puts on educating customers about lesser-known varietals/regions. I also like that she tries to feature many organic/biodynamic wines. While I try to eat as organically as possible, I hadn't really considered the amount of pesticides I could be ingesting by drinking traditional wine. I also appreciate Ms. Lewensztain's effort to add a personal touch to her wine club. She wants her members to feel like Plonk is almost like their local wine store and encourages them to use her as their personal wine consultant. When I called to ask a few questions about the club, Ms. Lewensztain answered and couldn't have been more helpful or friendly even before knowing that I was writing a review. While there are a few aspects of the club I found lacking and pointed out in the "Cons" section, I find Plonk to be an intriguing new wine club that would make a great gift (and inexpensive) gift for any wine enthusiasts in your life.


Reviews

Write a Review

* indicates required field