The Daily Drinker

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.

About Steve Slatcher

Wine enthusiast and software engineer
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2 Responses to The Daily Drinker

  1. Thank you for your blog post about The Daily Drinker. It is always good to get coverage and to read our members’ opinions. However, I feel duty bound to respond to a few of your comments.

    1. Tasting notes
    We switched to PDF tasting notes when we realised that, sadly, many of our members were not reading them so it was proving a waste of time and money. We do however appreciate that for those people for whom the tasting note is an invaluable part of The Daily Drinker, the PDF system can be tiresome, so we are only too happy to switch people back to paper tasting notes on request. I have amended your DD account so that you should receive paper tasting notes in the box in future.

    2.New Subscription Levels
    I agree, they are not as clear cut and straightforward as before but you have picked up the key point – it is cheaper to have your deliveries in six bottle cases every three months rather than two bottle cases every month. We introduced this new option to counter the rising costs of fuel, cardboard, corks, wine etc etc which inevitably were pushing up our membership prices. And we DO encourage people to contact us if it appears too confusing on the website.

    3.Red wines
    You single out Barbera and Montepulciano which you say you “do not find particularly interesting”, and Touriga Nacional which “is hardly radical”. My first response would be to point out that not all our members know as much about wine as you and for many people, a Touriga Nacional IS something a little bit different.

    More importantly, you single out these three varieties from the past 12 months but what about Tsapournakos from Greece (never before imported into the UK until we did last year)?, Freisa Braghe from Italy?, Sankt Laurent from Austria? All three are, in our opinion, fantastic wines in themselves, brilliant examples of these varieties, and you have to admit, just a little bit different…

    The aim of Daily Drinker selections if twofold: firstly, that DD members consuming a bottle will get a good idea of what that variety is all about; secondly, there must be some commercial consideration as we are after all a business and we hope to sell subsequent stocks of these wines once members have tasted them.

    In any event, I hope you continue to enjoy your Daily Drinker experience and thanks again for your post.

  2. Steve Slatcher says:

    All fair points, Victoria.

    And thank you for the reinstatement of paper copies of the notes. In a way it is perhaps a silly conceit, but it does add value for me.

    I suppose “unusualness” is not very well defined. I would still however maintain that the whites I have received have been generally more unusual than the reds, and thus more interesting to my geeky self. If you like, take it as a positive comment on your whites, rather than a negative one on the reds :)

    Please note, everyone, that if I was not very impressed by The Daily Drinker, I would not be renewing my subscription. They are currently the only merchant I allow to send me a “blind” selection of wines on a regular basis. I normally very much like to control what I buy.

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