Bright Cellars Review: An Honest Review and The Ugly Truth
The idea of getting wine delivered straight to my door, month after month is incredibly appealing. And never mind that you also get to rate the wines as you would in a wine tasting, which you submit back to Bright Cellars on the basis that they will hand-select wines to match your unique preferences. However, the bright idea behind Bright Cellars may not be gold in real life. After having a subscription with Bright Cellars for around 6-months. Let’s talk about my Bright Cellar review, including the good (spoiler alert: there’s not much), the bad, and the ugly.
But First, What is a Club?
Wine clubs are a premium subscription service where you get bottles of wine delivered straight to your door every month. In addition to the bottles, some of the wine clubs offer extras like individual wine cards that provide a description of the wine (i.e., varietal, notes, pairings, etc…), and with most, you rate each bottle so that the company sends you custom boxes of wines that fit your unique tastes and preferences. It’s a genius concept that any wine lover would love.
However, there wan’t much to love about Bright Cellars.
My [Honest] Review of Bright Cellars
The short answer is, that while Bright Cellars Wine Club is super shiny and attractive with a pretty website and beautiful packaging, it looks good, but it will put a bad taste in your mouth. Well, at least if your palate is anything like mine. It seems like more effort is put into looking good, than being good. And that’s a problem.
Why I don’t recommend Bright Cellars:
- Advertised pricing is just the introductory pricing. You’ll need to wait to check your billing statement from your credit card provider to see how much it really costs you after the intro period.
- It’s not cheap. Heck, I actually don’t even know how much it costs.
- Wines seem to get worse, not better.
- Some of the wines were garbage (literally seemed like a bottle gone bad).
- In my wine ratings, I asked them to stop sending CA wines and they kept sending them.
- All of the corks are the exact same and there are only two bottles (suspicious, if you ask me).
- You can’t cancel online. The Bright Cellars site appears very modern and user-friendly, so I have to think this was not an oversight, but a strategic move in attempts to get fewer account cancellations. After all, the more difficult you make it for people to cancel, the less that will. Pretty shady business practice. Instead, you have to email the company.
- You can’t even view billing receipts from your account. Again, if you want to know how much you’re being charged you need to check with your linked payment provider since Bright Cellars won’t tell you. Pretty shady.
So why did I put up with this? I really wanted it to be a great service. I love the concept of the business and as a wine drinker, I understand you’re bound to come across some bad bottles once in a while.
Case in Point #1: All the Foils Are the Same
Yes, week after week, the foils all remain the same across every bottle of Bright Cellars wine. Sure, the color of the foil changes, but the stamp on it remains the same. There’s never a different stamped pattern. There’s never the winemaker’s brand name, nor will you ever find the Italian stamp of quality approval, such as the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG).
Case in Point #2: All of the Corks Are the Same
Same as the foils, all of the corks are the same. I think in the least we’ve discovered that Bright Cellars doesn’t buy bottles from winemakers, perhaps just vats or barrels of wine. Judging by the taste, I’m guessing these are barrels that were sold off at a discount because they’re subpar. Of course, Bright Cellars turns around and sells them for full price. And while we’re on the topic of corks, what’s more concerning is that the wine on the cork is nearly identical–despite being different varietals.
How Much Does Bright Cellars Cost? [Short Answer: Too Much]
If you’re left wondering how much Bright Cellars actually costs, you’re not alone. Even as a member, I admittedly didn’t even know. I was initially drawn to sign up due to its great intro deal of four bottles for just $40. However, after that first month, it jumped to $94 per month with shipping (so it averaged out to around $23.50 per bottle).
Here’s how much Bright Cellars wine club costs:
- Introductory pricing: $40 for 4 bottles ($10 per bottle)
- Ongoing pricing: $94 for 4 bottles ($23.50 per bottle)
In all honesty, I typically buy bottles in the range of $10 to $15. I’m not opposed to buying more expensive bottles, and I like having nicer bottles on hand to bring to dinners and whatnot. However, these more expensive bottles from Bright Cellars tasted like $6 bottles (and that’s being generous). Total trash wine and I wouldn’t dare bring such a wine to a dinner party. It’s not to say every single bottle was bad, but at best, the wines were in line with a $10 bottle …and about 50-75% of the wines were awful.
Since I couldn’t manage to find any sort of receipts from Bright Cellars (because no, they don’t show you your bills in your account, nor do they email them to you), I did ask customer support for info. See the email below for reference.
What’s a Better Alternative to Bright Cellars Wine Club?
In lieu of Bright Cellars, I started using Naked Wines to get unique wines sent straight to my door. It’s not an automatic delivery service, however, it is an ultra-affordable wine delivery service. For example, I got 12 bottles of wine for $80 with free shipping. After that order, I received another email offer from Naked Wines for 9 bottles for $60, again with free shipping.
Such a better deal, and it’s a smart move not to have automatic payments. With Naked Wines I get so much wine at once it displays really well in my kitchen wine rack and unlike with Bright Cellars, I’m not constantly running out. When bottles get low, I’ll order another shipment.
Best part? Naked Wines has a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not happy with your wine, you get your money back. It also has a pretty cool story about supporting very small vintners, so that’s cool. If you really want a monthly wine subscription, there are a lot of options. Winc might be the most well-known, however, there are loads to choose from. Personally, I haven’t tried any wine subscriptions beyond Bright Cellars, so all I suggest is to choose a different company.
Unboxing Bright Cellars Shipment
What Bright Cellars does really well is the packaging. It wraps everything from its site to its bottles in a pretty bow (figuratively). Bottles arrive safely in a sturdy box, along with individual cards describing each bottle. It’s a cool concept and one that I was excited about. However, it’s just a shame that Bright Cellars puts so much into making things look good, apparently leaving them with little time to ensure the product actually tastes good.
Do You Recommend Bright Cellars Wine Club?
No, I do not recommend Bright Cellars Wine Club. Admittedly, I’m no wine expert, but I did find that after a few months of membership the wines I received were becoming consistently bad. And I’m not just talking bad as in they didn’t please my palate, but bad as in the wines tasted as if they had gone off. In time, I realized that Bright Cellars bottles are all the same (two shapes), the corks are all the same, and the foils are all the same.
How Do You Cancel a Bright Cellars Membership?
Once Bright Cellars puts a bad taste in your mouth with its wine, it will get even worse when you realize that there’s no way to cancel your Bright Cellars membership from within your account dashboard. Instead, what you need to do is email Bright Cellars (email@example.com) to request a membership cancellation. Pretty lame, and pretty bad service.
Of course, once you email them requesting to cancel your Bright Cellars account, they’ll use it as an opportunity to try to sell you on their product, which just delays the cancellation process, and requires that you waste more time by having to email back to reiterate that you want to cancel your membership.
My four-word review of Bright Cellars: find another wine club. There are so many to choose from, and though I don’t have first-hand experience with any (beyond Naked Wines, which isn’t exactly a wine club), I can say that I do not recommend Bright Cellars after being a member for half a year. Bright Cellars does excel when it comes to presentation. I wish it would offer one-off wine tasting packages instead of subscriptions as it’s a fun idea for something to do with friends. But until then, try another wine club.