The Daily Drinker is an online wine merchant with a difference. They specialise in unusual wines from anywhere in the world, and encourage you to become a member, which means you buy from them on a subscription basis. You do not have to subscribe, but if you do you can buy any other wine they offer at a lower price. Before I go any further, let me stress that apart from being a customer I have no relationship whatsoever with the company. I just feel that they deserve to be more widely known.
I first heard about them at the end of 2011, in a tasting of Central and Eastern Europe, given by Angela Muir. She presented some of their wines, and put in a good word for them. I am normally the sort of person that likes to know what I am buying when it comes to wines, but if you want unusual wines any purchase is going to be a bit of a gamble anyway. So evenually I bought a subscription, and I am pleased I did. I signed up for a delivery of one red and one white bottle every month for one year, at the cost of £260. In practical terms, the service has been impeccable. I am alerted by email a few days before each delivery, and they have always arrived well-packed and on time. One wine was a bit corky, and got replaced without quibble.
My first few deliveries arrived with a sheet of A4 paper describing each wine, including a couple of quite detailed tasting notes. But more recently I have to download the details as PDFs, and the last ones came with only one brief tasting note per wine. I can understand the need to keep costs under control, but it was so much more fun to get the sheets in the box. However, even now it feels like quite an event when I receive a couple of bottles. It’s a bit like receiving a magazine through the post, but better.
You can see the range of wines for yourself on their website, including the detailed information as PDFs. I presume they buy enough of each wine for their members subscriptions, plus a few extra cases which they put up for general sale, but when the extra cases are gone they do not reorder. It might be just me, but I do not understand all the subscription deals currently on their website – I will have to email or phone them when I need to renew. One thing I do understand though, is that you can now save a bit of money by having wines delivered less frequently and in cases of six bottles. But that would be less fun.
How good are the wines? On the whole I would say I like the whites. They are generally from unusual places, made from unusual grapes, and offer unusual but good taste experiences. Just what I would expect from a merchant with the strapline “wines for the inquisitive palate”. But I am less impressed with the reds. Personally I do not find anything particularly interesting about a Barbera d’Alba or Montepulciano d’Abruzzo for example. The reds also are not as good, and offer less value. At this point, I hasten to remind you that I do not believe there is any objectivity in wine appreciation, so YMMV. But the consequence of my opinion is that when I renew my subscription I shall be taking whites only, despite the fact that I drink more reds than whites on a day-to-day basis.
You can see a couple of my tasting notes for The Daily Drinker wines in my previous blog post. Here, exceptionally, I did like the red. And, although a Touriga Nacional from Portugal is hardly radical, it was a pleasant surprise in terms of taste.