Review: Is the Miles-Earning Vinesse Wine Club Worth It?
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I’m always looking for ways to gain more miles outside of regular credit card spend — whether it’s through the mere act of signing up for the right cards or simply using online shopping portals.
So when American Airlines announced a program where you could earn up to 10,000 miles by shopping through its partners, I was ready to get to work. (Note that earlier this month, the airline debuted a similar promotion allowing you to nab a whopping 50,000 bonus miles.) The one partner I was hesitant about signing up with, however, was Vinesse Wines, a wine club. I wasn’t familiar with their selection. But, the deal was sweetened by a sign-up bonus of either airline miles or hotel points and I decided it was time to try it out.
Estimating the Value
The offer I opted for featured six bottles for $41.94, plus $.01 for shipping. Vinesse, which works with the rewards programs of American, Choice Hotels, Club Carlson, Delta, Hilton, Spirit and United, was offering 2,000 Advantage miles for signing up. According to TPG‘s most recent valuations, AA miles are worth 1.4 cents a pop so 2,000 miles are worth about $28. Which means that I got six bottles of wine for roughly $14. Not a bad deal.
Vinesse actually has an even better deal now: They offer an elevated sign-up bonus for 10,000 American miles after you purchase 12 bottles of wine. With this deal, you get 3,000 miles for your first shipment and 7,000 miles with the second. (Most of the elevated sign-up bonuses mean you have to stick around for two shipments to get the larger amount of miles.) If you stay on for a third case or more, you’ll receive five miles for every dollar spent.
However, the later shipments aren’t heavily discounted like the first one. A Vinesse representative told me that the second shipment of wine would cost about $120 – $130 all-in, a threefold price increase over the first shipment. 10,000 American miles are worth about $140, so you’re only coming out on top by a small amount. But if you actually enjoy the wine, that’s another story.
Unpacking the Shipment
In the age of Amazon Prime, consumers expect delivery at lightning-fast speeds. Now, I’m not saying Vinesse should have the efficiency of Amazon, but they sure do take their time getting you the product. I didn’t see any wine for three weeks after I placed my order.
When the wine finally arrived, it came in a large cardboard box with protective packaging.
Inside were the six bottles, all in perfect condition.
I was happy to receive a variety to sample: red, white and rosé.
Included was some background information on each wine along with food pairings.
Testing the Wine
Hoping to find out more about the wines, I did some Googling to see what an individual bottle might cost and where the grapes are grown. After some research, I discovered that the wines were not from any “real” wineries. They were all bottled by separate wine branding and bottling companies and aren’t available on the shelves of your local supermarket. If you wanted to reorder any of the wines, you’d have to do it through Vinesse.
Since I enjoy finding out about the background of a wine and the winery itself, I found this aspect disappointing.
When it comes to taste, I’m no wine expert so I decided to conduct a group tasting and rate the wines on a 1 to 5 “grape” scale — one grape meaning the wine was disgusting and five grapes designating it was delicious. Seven TPG staffer scored the wines. Below are the average ratings our team gave them (spoiler alert — they all stunk):
|Wine||Rating (1-5)||Price from Vinesse|
|2016 Las Prisas Sauvignon Blanc||
? ?? (2.83)
|2016 Zurdo Merlot||
? ? (1.92)
|2015 Dreamtime Red Blend||
? ? ? (2.75)
|2015 Iron Rock Chardonnay||
? ? (1.58)
|2016 Belli Mondi Syrah||
|2016 Seacrest Rosé||
None of us were impressed by any of the wines that Vinesse had provided. The only two that were palatable were the Merlot and the Sauvignon Blanc. Many had an odd aftertaste, almost metal-like, that didn’t leave any of us wanting more.
TPG managing editor Alberto Riva described the wines as “the finest vintages from Chateau de Shampoo.”
In the end, I really can’t recommend the wines through Vinesse. There were only a handful of us who found the bottles remotely drinkable. There’s no telling how an experienced connoisseur would feel.
When purchasing a product, I look for something that will provide value. With Vinesse, the value proposition is that you’ll get airline miles at heavily discounted prices, and enough wine for a small party. Unfortunately, I’d say you’re really not getting much value out of the latter since the journey to getting tipsy didn’t taste great. I’d only consider signing up if you can stack it with an airline’s promotion of shopping through its partners, then I’d probably cancel the membership after that.
Realistically, it’s much easier to earn miles through an airline co-branded card like the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard or the United Explorer Card. Both offer sign-up bonuses and earn miles for every dollar spent, among other benefits. Those savings should help me feel better about spending a little more for higher quality vino.
Have you joined a points-earning wine club? Let us know your experience in the comments below.
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