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Reserves policy

I’m a big user of the Wine Society reserves. I’ve been watching the brilliant webinars with legendary winemakers. I was inspired by Joel Peterson but could only afford to buy 3 bottles of his Zin. I wanted to put these into my reserves for a special occasion but I couldn’t as you can only put complete cases into reserves. Way beyond my budget. Has anyone else had this problem.
Also I wanted to try a bottle from my reserves but you can only take out in minimums of 3 so you can’t check if the wine is ready or not. I’d understand if there was a charge for this but would welcome the option.

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I think some members get around this by storing wine elsewhere, with companies such as Lay and Wheeler, who might charge more (for storage, and sometimes for the wine too) but have a more flexible withdrawal policy.

If you want to stick with TWS the only ways round it I’ve found are to:

  • store a ‘make your own’ mixed case of wines you think will be ready to drink at a similar time;

  • withdraw a mixed dozen bottles from your whole cases in reserves (I think you can withdraw less than 3 bottles of an individual wine, provided the overall withdrawal adds up to 12 bottles of max 4 wines)

  • invest in a house with a cellar, or buy a wine fridge…

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Several members of the community, myself included, have for some time been keen to see TWS adopt a more flexible reserves offer similar to that at L&W - even if it requires members who want that flexibility paying extra. I do always bear in mind though, that more flexibility would probably increase numbers of bottles held on behalf of members (if part cases could be committed to reserves) and also might therefore reduce availability of wines for immediate delivery. I think there is a balance to be struck with the needs of what must be the majority of members who do not use reserves at all.

For myself, the DD cellarage rate at L&W is now not that different to TWS - and is calculated quarterly - and I am drawing down from my reserves there 5 or 6 times a year anyway (and paying to do so) so the small number of TWS wines I want to draw down ‘one at a time’ may be transferred to them over this winter. If considering the same, a word to the wise that they do take a long time to book wines into reserves.

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You can withdraw one bottle from a case in reserves, but it has to be made into a mixed case of 12, no more than 4 wines. So you can do 1+5+6 for instance. One way to give yourself some flexibility is to put away a case or two of cheap drinkers to fill out your mixed case withdrawals. I’ve got some Beaujolais that could be drunk now or in 5 years, I’ll take out 2 or 3 bottles of two different ‘finer’ wines then the rest of the case is made from the bojo.

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Thanks for very helpful suggestion. That’s the way to go.

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Out of interest, how are you then charged for the incomplete cases? If, for example, you withdraw 2 each from 3 stellar cases and 6 from a case of more modest stuff, would your annual charge be reduced by the cost of a 12 bottle case?

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I think the storage charge is actually calculated by volume but yes it reduces by the amount of bottles you take out, not cases.

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Agreed - 6 weeks pre-lockdown in the last instance I did this

Although at the moment everything is taking a long time

I requested a transfer from TWS to L&W for the same reasons as @Jcbl cites in late May and I’m still waiting for delivery to be even arranged; under post-lockdown arrangements its looking likely to be a +3 month process to move wine between these two warehouses…

Big lover of TWS but would like a much more flexible approach to retrieving bottles from storage. Why should we have to get creative to extract bottles? Yesterday wanted to buy 4 of each of three pinot noirs split into cases of six: one case of six for delivery now and one to be held in reserves for withdrawal in a few years time to see the change. Wasn’t allowed. When so much of TWS can be regarded as world class why can’t we look at the logistical problem of retrieving bottles from cellars that we collectively own? A little more flexibility please.

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So it is only mixed cases of six bottles that are a problem?

I can’t quite work out why the withdrawal rules are so inflexible sometimes.

Imagine I put two cases of 12 away. I can withdraw 6 from each case to make 12 and have them delivered. I’m left with two cases, each half full.

I can also put a case of 12 away made up of 6 of each. But I have to withdraw the whole case! I can’t take 6 from it, and 6 from elsewhere - even though this is exactly the same, logistically, as splitting my two cases of 12 (being left with 2 cases half full). Surely the computer system can cope with tracking 6c/6d if it can cope with tracking 6a/6b?

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If you put away a self mixed case, there is no way to find out what is in it, unless you keep records yourself… TWS definitely does not know (it could be an empty box FWIW).

TWS definitely knows what is in mixed cases in reserves. I can check my reserves, click on the mix cases and it tells me exactly what is it in and the quantities of each wine.

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You are right, I take that back. Maybe my mixed case was being processed last time I checked.

The picking process would be more time consuming. Perhaps this could be covered by an additional charge, but personally I’m happy to withdraw say 4x3 bottles, and society mixed cases as they were originally sold; very occasionally there’s a mismatch in the drinking dates - that’s where the wine fridge/cellar is most useful.

I confess I’d love to see the possibility of mixing six for reserves.

Take the German release earlier in the year, for example. Putting away a self-mixed case of 6x £30 bottles, total cost £180, would have been perfect. They could have slumbered away quietly for a few years without a major upfront cost. But storing 12 (and thus spending north of £350) was beyond me. As it was, I bought a few, got them delivered, and will probably succumb to temptation and drink them too young.

In short, I for one would value the flexibility of sixes in TWS reserves. It doesn’t need - for me - to go as far as single bottles (although if spend any more time on this forum that might change!).

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In my example the picking process is exactly the same.

To play devil’s advocate, in your scenario the picker would have sort through your mixed case of twelve to pick out wine A from wine B.
In the current system they just have to grab some bottles out of a specific box I’m guessing.

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Would that not mean a fair number of boxes with only 1-2-3-etc bottles in them?

Even an unmixed six would be nice, which isn’t possible for wines sold in cases of twelve.

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