Join the Club

Food & Wine - - OBSESSIONS - —SARA SCH­NEI­DER

PUTTING YOUR WINE CHOICES in the hands of a great som­me­lier is a de­li­cious prospect. Stand­ing on your own, over­whelmed, in the im­port sec­tion of a big-box store? Not so much. Top somms know the coolest new bottles, ground­break­ing wine­mak­ers, and hid­den bar­gains. Now many of them are ap­ply­ing that knowl­edge to monthly wine clubs, cu­rat­ing se­lec­tions that de­liver bottles they per­son­ally love to drink. A care­ful (and some­times hi­lar­i­ous) study of a few ship­ments from these new som­me­lier-driven clubs turned up these three giftable gems.

POUR THIS

Los An­ge­les–based Ash­ley Ragovin, the for­mer wine di­rec­tor for An­i­mal, Trois Mec, and Os­te­ria Mozza, is be­hind this club, by far the most per­sonal of the three. The “love let­ter” and wine cards she tucks into her three-bot­tle Monthly Pour ($125) are chock-full of de­tails: weather, har­vest, wine char­ac­ter, and pro­ducer his­tory. The al­lure here is hard-to-find wines from small pro­duc­ers world­wide—and quirky add-ons like the mix CD in­cluded with my wines: “Cool tunes for your ’99 Honda.” (pour-this.com)

SOM­MS­ELECT

This club of­fers monthly ship­ments called the Somm Six ($199), cho­sen by Mas­ter Som­me­lier Ian Cauble (of Somm movie fame). But what’s more fun is the club’s Blind Six ($199). The bottles come wrapped in tis­sue and marked by num­bered stick­ers. An in­struc­tion book­let con­tains tips for iden­ti­fy­ing where in the world each wine is from, what grape va­ri­ety went into it, and even its vin­tage (good luck with that!). I spent an evening with sev­eral wine-savvy friends with this box, and let’s just say the three whites had us think­ing our­selves down some en­tirely en­ter­tain­ing rab­bit holes. The re­veal was be­yond fun. (som­ms­elect.com)

THE GRAND TOUR

Mas­ter Som­me­lier Dustin Wil­son, another

Somm star and the ex­pert be­hind the bottles at Verve Wine (with stores in New York City and San Fran­cisco), se­lects the wines in this new club. The Grand Tour de­liv­ers on its name with four bottles from a dif­fer­ent wine re­gion each month ($95). My ship­ment cov­ered two: Jura and Savoie in eastern France. For this tast­ing, I in­vited over friends who were a touch less ad­ven­tur­ous. Would my guests “get” the com­plex­i­ties of these wines? They did. This is a club for tak­ing deep dives—in­clud­ing re­gional his­tory and ge­og­ra­phy—into wines a somm would find in­ter­est­ing, but that you likely will, too. (grand­tour­wine.com)

Som­mS­elect’s mys­tery box pulls you into the world of a Mas­ter Som­me­lier stu­dent, chal­leng­ing you to iden­tify six bottles.

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