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Getting EP wrong!

In general, since becoming a member of The Wine Society, I have been reasonably satisfied (if not wholly delighted) with pretty much all aspects of the service/membership etc.

All except the poorly run En-Primeur campaigns.

Most other wine merchants/clubs/societies seem to be able to manage to offer the wines they have purchased (or have options to purchase) on a first come first served basis and when the wines have all been purchased, that’s it!

What it means in practice is that those members/customers who are keen enough to watch the dates of release/campaign starts etc and purchase early are often successful in their quest.

Plainly, there is only so much wine to go around and quite simply in some vintages WIGIG unless additional supplies are secured later. However, in the lower productivity vintages, the offers could be reduced to x3 bottles per customer, right from the start, in order to eke out the amount of secured stock to the most buyers. By doing this it would ensure that more customers would have a chance of getting a meaningful amount of each wine.

It is pitiful to request a few bottles of a wine only to be told that one has been successful in securing ‘one bottle’ and then be expected to feel lucky!

The Wine Society cannot expect to get away with trying to increase its appeal and membership (in order to compete with other wine retailing organisations) and appear so slipshod when offering EP wines.

Other buyers in other organisations seem to be able to manage things reasonably well. TWS must re-look at the ability of their buyers and its operations and perform better

Sadly, I will not be purchasing any more of my EP’s with The Wine Society. I will be totally honest and state here and now that the recent Burgundy EP (in which I secured nil points!) has been the proverbial straw/camel’s back etc. I wish the rest of you good luck in your EP quests. I can hear the cries of ‘sour grapes’ booming out as I write this but I simply do not like holding my breath and crossing every part of my anatomy in the hope of being successful in a ballot where ‘if you snooze you don’t lose’. A ballot that famously starts after every other campaign has entered its final straight!

Peculiarly, I still feel remarkably positive about most of the other aspects/wine selections etc that The Wine Society offers. However, if the Society is half as influential as we are led to believe it is, it must do better where Opening Offers are concerned.


I got a strike rate of 0% on the burgundy EP, so my grapes should be similarly sour, but I’ll defend the system. I think the society has, because of its cooperative rather than commercial underpinning, a different ethos than the other merchants you mention. All members are (in theory) equal, with no favours to those who are fastest in clicking or who are seen as high spending, special individuals. If anything, I suppose I don’t like the idea that you get more chances in the EP lottery if you are a higher spender in the society, unless it is a mechanism to weed out game-players and flippers.

Each to their own.


I would disagree vehemently with that statement! Top wines are only available to top customers elsewhere - and in some cases we are talking six figure annual spend rather than five!

It does sound rather like throwing the toys out of the pram to me. I think the EPs at TWS are the fairest way to members. There have already been complaints about things being put on the website on the main list and others feeling it is unfair as they cannot buy during the day as they have no access at work.

You can’t please everyone every time, but it this case it ain’t broke so don’t fix it. I would say this current setup is certainly the least worse option for TWS and it’s members. No-one can magic up more wine where there is none.


Can you give the example of the wine(s) you failed to secure, and how you intend to secure it going forward instead?


For me, I’m not that hung up on getting x-amount of x-wine every year, and I’m usually shopping in the shallow end anyway, so the TWS system works just fine. I also love the idea I at least have a have a chance of getting to try something relatively hard to come by at a vaugely reasonable price if I want to enter the (bur)lottery for example.

As you say, there are plenty of other retailers out there who use FCFS, and we are all free to take our custom elsewhere if this suits us better.

Can’t see any reason for TWS to follow suit.


I am also of the opinion that TWS EP system is fairer than most. The lack of allocations for top wines at least gives me the chance of buying something sought after, and the prices are always at least competitive, if not the best available.

I was also 0% successful in the recent Burgundy EP, but went only for some rare wines. I have previously bought heavily into EP of good vintages, e.g. 2015, and got everything I asked for. The wines of Burgundy in particular are becoming ever more sought after and yields were low this year.

I hope that TWS keeps the current system as it is.


If you don’t like it don’t play - go elsewhere (but be prepared to buy big if you want anything desirable).

WIGIG or buy £x,xxx of other stuff from the offer and you might get an allocation are both eminently less fair systems.


I too am reasonably content with the allocation system, even though I don’t win them all. I really don’t want to see us move to first-come-first-served, because not everyone can sit in front of the computer all day waiting for a new offer to appear in their inbox. My own view is that everyone should have a fair shot at each offer. Indeed, I would say that the default position should be that all offers are circulated to all members, not just the ones that some algorithm thinks will be interested.

I think the those of the Society is, and should be, different from that of a normal commercial merchant, and my relationship with it is different. If a commercial merchant does something I don’t like, my attitude is generally either, “What do you expect?” or “Well, if you don’t want my business …” If the Society does it, my attitude is, “Why is my Society doing this to me?” - and not giving me at least a chance at every offer definitely triggers that reaction.


TWS have the best EP system in the market

The problem is not TWS but the structure of the Burgundy wine market.

I assume (predict) that eventually (25 years from now) TWS will drop Burgundy from the regional EP offerings and offer EP from individual domaines where they have sustainable relationships.


It seems to me that the only people “moaning” about the e-p process are those who have failed to pick up these so called “unicorn” wines (and the OP).

From a quick check it looks like the people who have got nothing are those who just put in for those and nothing else.

I’d like to see where else people would get even a bottle or two elsewhere without spending a lot of money, and I mean a lot, on other stuff.

FWIW I have no interest in the unicorns.


I’ve never understood the idea that you have to have multiple bottles of a wine to properly enjoy it. You wouldn’t turn down the holiday of lifetime because it was just one, or a winning lottery ticket, because it was just one.

The ability to even be able to get some of the wine that TWS offers - in a manner that I get is anathema to many in the modern world, in that it doesn’t simply allow those with the biggest wallets to gobble it all up - is an absolute godsend of those of us with limited, not limitless, funds. I’d rather try one bottle of rare wine at a prosaic price, rather than pay fantasy prices for a case. If 7 other people are competing for each of those bottles, I understand the odds won’t always go in my favour.

But without TWS, I generally wouldn’t even consider buying very rare wines at crazy prices. So a small chance of having one bottle is infinitely more attractive than never having the chance of owning and then drinking those wines. We live in an imperfect world, but in this instance, TWS has come up with probably the most workable solution to the problem for genuine wine lovers.


TWS already offers EP in BOTH the much loved lottery style (the general EP)
AND the WGIG option (Dujac, Fourrier, Galeyrand etc.).

Offering everything in a WGIG fashion would be carnage, you can imagine people writing scripts to scrape the website and get their orders in pronto using multiple identities and then straight onto the auction sites.

It’s a No from me.

The current solution is the most controlled and least subject to manipulation. (even if it means I don’t get what I would like all the time!)


What a shame you are so fed up with the TWS EP allocation system. It seems at least that there are other places you can try with the kind of EP system you prefer. As you are an active contributor to the Community and fairly happy with other aspects of the TWS I hope you will come back on this subject in the future and let us know how you get on elsewhere.

We are buying less EP wines these days as we get older. We don’t have any kids to leave our wines to so those wines with a long future ahead of them seem to be a waste of our money. We are looking for wines that are ready to drink relatively early so we focus on EP wines, both red and white, further down the food chain. Like @MattH we shop in the shallow end these days when it comes to red EP. Our supply of top end EP purchases has run dry now with the exception of our 2004 Pavillon Rouge and that’s fine.

In our salad days we decided to treat ourselves to a case of top end Sauternes. A case of EP wines was duly bought but we never saw them because Hungerford Wines went bust that year. We feel safer with TWS, having had our fingers burnt, although acknowledge there are other solid wine merchants out there. Good luck with your future EP purchasing😃


Always disappointing when you don’t get some things, but I think it fits the ethos of the society. I happily get lots of wine on EP from the wine society via this route, and via other mechanisms with other merchants. Seems to me you are the only one that will miss out.

To be in the top category the bar is set pretty low so the biggest spenders do not get the biggest allocations.


We are in the same position and also enter the EP lottery at the shallow end. Although Al gorythm was kind to me for burgundy this time around I was less successful in the two previous burgundy EPs, but hey that’s the chance I am prepared to take.


That’s disappointing to hear. I was trying to justify my gross over-purchasing to myself on the basis that it might increase my chances with the EP algorithm of destiny :wink:


While I am pretty grumpy about the Burgundy EP (and the 2016 Barolo one), I’m still happier with the TWS system than WIGIG or old boys network/private buyer systems run by other merchants. Even if I were to shift all my (pretty substantial) TWS spend to Berry’s, I’d not get a look in on some of the wines I’ve been able to buy EP through the society (this is not speculation - I did a few of my wine qualifications with Berry’s staff and was given an idea of what their bottom tier of preferential treatment is; I am not in a position to spend anywhere near that much money a year on anything!).


Yeah, some time ago I stupidly asked them if they’d give me a heads up when the next vintage of a wine I buy from them regularly was available. You could hear the proverbial pin drop on the other end of the line and a sort of ‘that kind of service isn’t available to mere proles like you’ response (I detected that the tone employed was fully expecting me to apologise for such a gross beach of accepted protocol).

I think sometimes we collectively underestimate just how good TWS is.


I empathise with and understand the frustration of not getting everything you might want, or might have requested - I think that resonates with a number of folk on here, to a certain degree.

On balance though, the TWS approach does appear to be fairer than many others (that I’ve also found equally frustrating when I’ve missed out, or not been included).

So, I see it as last roll of the dice. You win some, you lose some.