While I’m not usually one for subscription services in general, when responding to an event e-vite last week, I noticed a promotion for 50% off a box of six wines.
Well, wine not?
Let’s give this a go, I said to myself. Twenty minutes later, I found myself $40 poorer, but with six bottles of wine on their way to me.
Before I proceed with my unboxing, please note I did this entirely for fun and my own enjoyment; I receive no benefits from Firstleaf by sharing this with you.
Like I do before buying… well, anything really, I dug a bit deeper into the company.
Thus, I discovered that Firstleaf (run by Penrose Hill in Napa, California) uses a quiz-based algorithm to pair you with wines you might like. This is primarily based on foods you prefer, flavors in wine you tend to favor, and some brand familiarity. If you’re a wine beginner, they’re pretty standard questions and brands, so don’t fret.
At the end of the quiz, the site presents you with six recommended wines from their portfolio –– which you can set to red/white/mixed wines and domestic/international/mixed in your profile — to try and rate.
By rating the wines, you improve their algorithm. If it turns out you don’t like what they’ve picked initially, you can make a limited number of switches to the selection before it’s finalized and shipped to you.
The promotion gave me six wines for $40 as a starting point. And honestly, I felt like it might be worth trying once at that price, and maybe more if the experience turns out to be a positive one.
A quick note — when you order wine, you have to be present to sign for it, or they won’t drop it off at your door. And, uh, the person signing has to be 21, in case that wasn’t obvious. 😁
Since my job has me anywhere and everywhere on a given day, I opted to have my parcel sent to a FedEx drop point so I could pick it up at my leisure. It worked out fairly well, all things considered… except the delivery truck changed the drop location at the last minute, which made for an awkward conversation at my local Walgreens today.
Alas, the times in which we live, I suppose.
Upon first blush, the most interesting part of the box so far had to be the rather large information cards provided for every wine I purchased. The front of each one has an image from the wine’s region of origin, and the back contains more information about the wine itself. Tasting notes, pairing suggestions, and winery background.
They also gave me a QR code on each card so I can rate the wine on my profile, and also so Firstleaf can make better selections for you when your next order queues. Though I haven’t yet explored this, I do believe that many of their wines can be purchased again in their online store, if you happened to really like one I’m your shipment, which could prove to be a nice touch.
And then, nestled safely beneath the envelope of wine notes, there lay the best part of all.
I ended up with two wines from Spain, two from Argentina, one French, and one South African, and all from producers with which I was not familiar.
Luckily, I read over some fine print and realized that my profile automatically set to order six new wines every month. Thus, a rather panicked me signed on to reset the frequency to “three months,” because for goodness’ sake, I don’t drink THAT much. Or that quickly.
Initial impressions of Firstleaf? Seemed a bit gimmicky at first, and I’ll be curious to see how the overall quality of each wine contributes to the value of my purchase. Considering that future boxes will cost $80 for six bottles, I’m hopeful that all of them will be far above “acceptable,” and that at least 50% will rate at “very good.”
Are my standards too high? Perhaps, but I’ve found so many beautiful hidden gems in the “bargain” areas of wine shops that I feel my expectations aren’t too far out there.
My biggest concern is that Firstleaf will focus too much on keeping me happy without pushing my comfort zone. I’m here to try great wine, but I have no interest in just sticking to my favorites. We’ll see where the magical algorithm takes me, I suppose!
Have you tried any wine subscription services? How have you liked those experiences? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to compare notes.
Stay tuned for part two of my Vacation 2022 miniseries! As always, thanks for reading. 😄