Did this Boston company finally figure out how to run a good wine club?

Friday, December 22, 2017

Upper Glass works with local sommeliers to carefully select
compelling wines, delivered to your doorstop each month
In my experience, some of the best wine recommendations I've received have come from independent local restaurants with a focus on discovery.

Energetic hipster sommeliers try all kinds of stuff so they can present funky off the beaten trail lower production wines from lesser known regions that run circles around higher production commodity wines.

As long-time readers know, I'm no stranger to Total Wine, Costco and Wine .com. But there comes a point when you're tired of the usual suspects and you want to explore. And you want to do so without making mistakes.

If you're not making it out to local restaurants as much as you'd like and you're thirsty for evolving new wine selections from respected local sommeliers, Boston-based Upper Glass might be just the model you're looking for.

How it works

The best way to get a feel for Upper Glass, to give them a try, is with their Monthly Curated Selections. For $80 (with free shipping in the Boston area within route 495) they'll deliver an assortment of four wines to you each month.

If your preference is reds only, they've got an option for that.

If you want to explore specific varietals like Pinot Noir or Cabernet, or "holiday wines" or "sparklers" they offer one-time four bottle collections you can order.

More on how it works from their site

Four wines, nicely packed with useful
interesting information about each is included

My experience

They reached out and asked if it would be okay to send me a complimentary shipment. A nicely packaged box with four wines with information about each was included. The shipment I got happened to be targeted for Thanksgiving.

The wines were selected by Jen Fields, the Wine Director at Chef Michael Scelfo's Harvard Square restaurants Alden & Harlow and Waypoint. She was previously General Manager at Toro (one of Chef Ken Oringer's many restaurants that I adore).

Alden & Harlow and Toro were a couple of my favorite meals in the past couple years so it felt like this offer, and the entire Upper Glass wine discovery model is eerily targeted at me.

Bench Pinot Noir

Silky smooth and gorgeously free of off notes. A hard thing to accomplish with such flavor intensity and low alcohol. Outstanding and impressive in the ~$20 price point.

93/100 WWP: Outstanding

Elio Perrone Bigaro

A sweet sparkling rosé from Piedmont, Italy. 5% alcohol. Creamy sweetness kept in check by some amount of acidity. A great wine to enjoy with dessert, especially but not exclusively for guests who don't typically like wine. Absolutely delicious.

92/100 WWP: Outstanding

Clos de l'Elu Indigene

A French (Loire) red blend of 50% Gamay, 30% Grolleau, 20% Cab Franc. Drinks like a cru Beaujolais with more stuffing. Anchored by unmistakable Gamay notes with stuffing provided by the other grapes which have shades of Rhone influence. Fantastic.

91/100 WWP: Outstanding

Mica Vinho Verde

Starbright with racy acidity. Strong linear presence with satisfying weight. I get a hint of a soapy aftertaste on the finish that diminishes what is an otherwise outstanding wine.

88/100: Very good

Bottom line

I think Upper Glass is on to something terrific here.

The key is going to be whether they can stay true to their model and avoid the temptation to push out wines that are driven by forces other than the carefully selected options from local sommeliers.

I think Wine Folly does a good job describing why so many wine clubs are so very bad.

Definitely check them out if you're in the Boston area. I hope they expand to other areas and/or open up more shipping options. I think a lot of people would really go for this.

I realize this is cutting it close to Christmas so I wanted to get this out now on the off chance you might be able to take advantage of a couple deals they're running.

15% off gift cards with code CHRISTMASCARD
15% off a 3 Month Subscription with code 15OFF3 with the first shipment arriving before New Years.

These codes are good through Dec 25, 2017 and could make for a great last minute gift, even for...yourself!

My thanks to Upper Glass for the sample shipment. I wish them well. Really like the model here.


[MA Only] Quick deal: 2012 Cherry Pie Stanly Ranch Pinot Noir for $33/btl

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Bin Ends Wine is offering the 2012 Cherry Pie Stanly Ranch at 3 bottles for $99 (link).

As a comparison point, Total Wine sells this bottling for $44.99 when purchasing 6 or more mixed bottles.

I've had various vintages of this wine before and I'm a fan. It's big and bold, weighing in at 15.5% alcohol. It's a little back-vintage at this point but I bet it's not over the hill yet.

If you're unfamiliar with the Cherry Pie lineup it's strikingly similar to Belle Glos/Meiomi:

Winemaker: Jason Woodbridge of Hundred Acre
Top end bottling: Single vineyard Cherry Pie (the wine being offered, street price around $50)
Entry level: Cherry Tart Pinot Noir ($15-$20)

Winemaker: Joe Wagner of Caymus
Top end bottling: Single vineyard Belle Glos (around $50)
Entry level: Meiomi ($15-$20)

Worth a try if you like a big bold California Pinot Noir. I know I do.

I'll update this post when I hear it's sold out.

Update: Wine is not sold out as of yet, but I picked this up yesterday and popped it just now. They gave me the '13 (offer was for the '12) but I'm not complaining. The wine is exactly what I'd hope for. Full throttle flavor yet light in color as CA Pinot should be. Ample acidity and surprising tannic grip. Just the slightest bit of heat as you'd expect from something that's 15.5% abv. I can see my way to 92+ points on this.


[Expired] Another $50 back on $150 Wine.com code

Sunday, October 15, 2017

I'm not sure what the expiration date on this one is. I just saw it pop up in my account:


Should get you $50 off $150, works for existing accounts one time.

Check the best shopping portal cashback rates here. The best rate I'm seeing at the moment is for a portal that isn't listed on Cashback Monitor:

Here's my refer-a-friend link if you haven't signed up with Lemoney yet:



Juicy: $50 back on $150 at Wine.com

Sunday, October 1, 2017

It's October 1st, so it's a new month and the first day of Q4. Time for some new deals!

Last month we were talking about maximizing the AmEx Offer for Wine.com. Since then I've been on the look-out for good promo codes to stack with the deal.

I got an email from Wine.com touting a $20 back on $50 offer which turned out to be a typo. It's $150 back on $150 with code FALLSAVE20. 13.3% isn't too shabby, and the code can be used multiple times.

$20 off $150 with code FALLSAVE20 at Wine.com! Valid 10/1 - 10/2

But then I saw this reply on Twitter:


$50 off $150! Wowza. If we're getting 20% off with the AmEx Offer, plus 33% off, plus whatever cashback we can get through a portal - that's some serious savings.

The $50 off $150 WINE50 code appears to be limited to one use per account, which is problematic for repeat orders on the account you have StewardShip on.

But the savings are so significant it might make sense to create a new account(s) and just stomach the high shipping costs. I show that it's $13.65 to ship the first bottle so if you're buying expensive wines that's still around a 25% discount with the $50 off $150.

And if you're completely new to Wine.com and want to get going with an account with StewardShip you could use code $30 off $100: OCTNEW30. Lots of permutations and combinations here that might make sense depending on the number of AmEx Offers you have at your disposal.

New Customers Only! $30 off $100 with code OCTNEW30 at Wine.com! Valid 10/1 - 10/15

On the portal front, I've been tinkering with a newish shopping portal called Lemoney. Whereas the best rate for Wine.com across the merchants listed on Cashback Monitor is around 5%, Lemoney is offering "16% Turbo Cashback" for Wine.com.

The way Lemoney's Turbo Cashback [supposedly] works is you get 16% on purchases, once a month, up to a certain dollar amount. And you need $25 in cashback in order to cash out. I've done a couple of trial purchases with other merchants and they've tracked but not yet posted. We'll see how it goes. If you'd like to sign up for Lemoney you can use my referral code below. I think they use some kind of pyramid scheme whereby people in your referral "community"earn you additional cashback.

Who doesn't like a little good old fashioned multi-level marketing?


Here's 10 of my favorite wines they've got available.

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