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Things I wish I had known - a message to new Society members



Some months ago, I asked members of the community a question about what advice they would give to new Society members who were just joining.

If you were to think back to when you first joined, compared with what you know now, what is the piece of advice you wish had been given then that would have made your life easier?

What piece of advice would you pass on to new members?

It was early days of the community then but we got some great comments from @Bargainbob, @cathasturias & @Taffy-on-Tour

I’ve now teamed up with Jo Goodman (@Jo4Wine), Editor of the Society Newsletter, who got the broader views of members through the newsletter.

I’ve republished some of the excellent responses we got via email and letter from members below, but I would also be very interested in your views, whether you’ve been a member for 10 years or 10 days.

It took me some time before I realised the value of the hive mind of the Society’s members. I am not referring to the tasting comments of individual members but to the list issued during the summer of the members most popular purchases. This list reflects the preference of a very large number of people who care about the wine they drink. It should be a useful pointer to achieving a high success rate when selecting wine and it is. I have purchased pleasing wines this way that I would not have chosen from the society’s list because of one obscure personal bias or another. (D. Brander)

On my very occasional visits to Stevenage I have always made sure to pick up some wooden wine boxes - leaving a suitable donation, of course.!

These have proved to have a myriad of uses over the years.
Here are just a few ;

  • A hop-up for my granddaughter to reach the washbasin for her ablutions. Also a boat , doll,s bed or plane for playtime.
  • Useful decorative storage for numerous small items in the house & workshop.
  • With a few holes in the bottom they make good seed & herb trays.
  • When the time comes they make excellent kindling.
    I’m not saying it’s worth the price of membership, but it has proved a bonus. (K. Mogridge)

I have two suggestions for getting the best out of The Wine Society. First, join as soon as you can. Second, remember the quality of English wines, we were taught by the masters - The Romans. They taught the French on the way here, whatever the French may say now. (H. Quick)

  1. That some wines are not in the main list, so fine wine list needs to be requested.
  2. How to get on list for en primeur offers.
  3. How to contact customer service by email (rather than online form)
    (S. Page)

Here is my insight for new members:

Unless you have left it late to order your wine, always opt for the Society delivery van.

Why? Two reasons; one prosaic the other quite the opposite.

Firstly I have never had a damaged delivery when I have opted for the Society’s own delivery van. Why spend money to slowly and carefully mature an en-primeur wine in a quiet, dark, and temperature-controlled environment… and then have it thoroughly shaken and slung around in a courier’s van that’s racing to keep up with the schedule. Sometimes I am tempted to order the wonderful but almost explosive Cidre Bouche de Normandie and get it delivered by the courier just to see the inside of his van after delivery!

Secondly, and much more important, take time to talk to the Society driver. I first met our driver at 07:30 in the morning. As he handed over the (undamaged) boxes, he commented on the contents most of which he knew first hand and recommended some alternatives to try if I liked what I had ordered. Since that first delivery, I’ve tried those recommendations and they have been that good that I look forward to the wine tutorial on the doorstep. Just don’t keep him too long - we don’t want him rushing to his next delivery! (K. Busch Hansen)

I’ve been a member since 1997 (I think), just when the internet was starting to flourish and making researching wine purchasing and the purchasing itself so much easier.

The Society was a revelation to me and I joined on the recommendation of a friend and I’ve never looked back.

I can say with hand on heart since 1999 I have not bought a single bottle of wine (in the UK obviously) anywhere other than from The Wine Society. I am always the butt of jokes when we have people round or when we go out for a meal to friends as to which Society bottles will be on offer. They may laugh but I’ve never heard them complain!

So two things I wish I’d known back in 1997:

  1. trust the Society brand - if you want a decent bottle of wine, at any price, for any occasion, then anything with the Society brand on it is going to be more than adequate. Whether it is the simple but delicious French Full Red or one of the more expensive Exhibition bottles, you cannot go wrong. If you don’t know anything about wine then buy the Society brands.

  2. if you can afford it, put a set amount away into your Society account every month so when it comes to buying time - usually twice a year for me - then it almost feels as if it is free.

(L. Stewart)

About a year ago I visited the best restaurant in Sorrento where the waiter recommended a ‘Janare’ White Wine, very reasonably priced/went down well with Fish. When I returned I saw Wine Soc already sell it, brilliant/excellent price and I’ve bought it many times ! Furthermore, I visited Sicily the year before and emailed Sebastian Payne about two excellent wines (of many!) I’d tried there, I see now Wine Soc sells a Sicilian Reserve Red at a good price and has increased it’s Sicilian range in general, some of which I’ve bought. Wow these guys really do listen !

So if you find wines on your travels it’s highly likely Wine Soc may already stock them or will have excellent alternatives anyway. Therefore if you’re a ‘Wine Lover’ you’ve arrived safely at your destination ! (S. Lindsay-Watson)

So, what might you add to this list (other than “Join the Community as soon as possible”, of course)?


When first joining I would advise buying new wines in each case and also participate in Wine without Fuss. You will be able to discover new styles and can always cancel a case if need be.
Also participate in the community :+1:


This assumes that new members are also new to wine. This is not necessarily true. I can’t think of anything more contrary to the spirit of this community than ‘wine without fuss’. We like the fuss.


Ho ho! I’m inclined to agree with the fuss comment, but I believe the “Wine without Fuss” line is popular. And I can think of at least two other merchants who do a similar thing successfully, so it is likely to be fulfilling some need.


Same here really - exploring the list and compiling an order is all part of the fun for me, so I don’t think I’d really consider WWF. That said, not every member is the same. There are no doubt plenty of members who aren’t quite as engaged/obsessed as those of us who spend a portion of every day discussing wine online. For them, WWF provides a tour of interesting wines they might never otherwise encounter, and might be the spark that ignites a deeper interest. There’s a place for it, without a doubt.


That’s an interesting point - the great thing is that everybody can be catered for.

In fact, I will be honest and say that I almost signed-up to WWF a couple of years ago. Even though I was coming to Stevenage, and I was receiving my complement of emails, I was still unsure what to buy for exploration (since I rarely buy by the case).

WWF seemed a simple and guilt-free (and risk-reduced) way to explore more widely without being influenced by my own existing interests.

However, I never got around to it, and it is the amazing community suggestions that have fulfilled that need for me instead.

Now I see a future where WWF might have some more cross-over with the community so that those who receive the cases can come here to give feedback and explore, and maybe use those experiences as a launching point for new adventures aided by you


My main piece of advice is to spend time on the website.

One thing I didn’t realise when I first joined was that the booklet of wine sent out by mail is not an exhaustive list of the wine offered.

The website didn’t exist when I first joined (nor did the internet which may explain why!) so advice would be to dive deep into the website to find something that tickles your fancy. Don’t just rely on the booklet that gets sent out.

Plus the website has a huge amount of very accessible info on grapes, wines, producers, regions etc to enhance your own wine knowledge.


I have only joined in February, so have no wealth of experience to draw upon. Instead, here are the two things that work for me, at the current stage I am in on my wine exploration:

  • Joining the on-line community has been the single most important thing for me; it immediately exposed me to myriad new wines, grapes, styles regions… The joy of sharing the passion for wine, but also the constant learning is just wonderful. So I would recommend this to every new member!
  • I don’t buy many repeat wines- unless it’s from producers or regions I have an established love of. Unlike members who have been into wine for years, my journey still feels in its infancy, so for me- variety is the word. So for new members (who are also perhaps new to wine in general)- I think spending time on the website exploring new regions, grape varieties etc- then putting together a case of your choice- is huge fun, and very rewarding in terms of learning what you like and don’t like.
    And if you don’t like to do this on your own- then there are plenty of mixed cases offers, and- as mentioned- WWF.


I’m not sure what members get when they sign up but it would be helpful to have a quick rundown of the things the society offers because a plethora of booklets and leaflets can be overwhelming. For example I didn’t dive into EP for a while because I didn’t really know what it was all about. And it would be helpful to know that TWS can be contacted to include you in certain mailings if you want to opt in - for example I get EP offers all the time now because (I presume) I buy from so many, but I didn’t use to and I remember having to ask when I finally decided to get into it.


It is certainly important to know that there are lots of mailings and relying on the Society to guess what you want is not a good idea. It took me a couple of years to work this out (and I still don’t know why the tastings mailing, yet another one today, assumes that Luton is near Reading and Norwich, but not London).
Supplying a list of mailings and perhaps some explanation of why people are included in some, but not others, would be very helpful.
There also needs to be much more about the Society as a Society. I eventually found this, by exploring the website, but more encouragement to take an interest, attend the AGM, etc., would be welcome.


I would suggest that in addition to the website (excellent, very easy to use and full of lots of varied information on all aspects of wine), go to some tastings then order a case of your favourite 4 wines to re-taste and savour over the next year or so.

Use the TWS Reserves to store those wines bought EP, once you get brave enough to try buying wine this way. I have discovered such lovely Rhone wines this way and there is no better feeling when withdrawing wines for what feels like no cost.

This community has also proved hugely educational, fascinating, hilarious and frequently adds more wine to one’s wish list than you can possibly afford in one lifetime…

Always try wines outside of your comfort zone and try wines that seem to cost more than you’ve ever spent before, allowing that the drink by dates are often conservative. Above all, enjoy your wine!


No 1 advice: If you see a bin end that you fancy… get it straight away, 'cos if you hang around it will be gone - forever. And if it turns out to be duff (very rare) TWS will refund you.

2nd piece of advice: TWS own label brut Champagne, MUCH cheaper by the case and you will still be enjoying the odd bottle long after the pain of paying for it has vanished.


lots of examples of this in the community recently - good advice!


If you see a bin end that you fancy… get it straight away and then immediately inform the Community…


Sounds like a recipe for a heartache… :wink:


Hello everyone - I am new here and this is my first post! I love the advice above and intend to take heed. Can I just ask, there are lots of mentions of EP - what is this?? Sorry if this is a very obvious one but I am two glasses in on a lovely NZ SB from TWS and there are only so many acronyms that I can work out in one evening…thanks!


Welcome @Wildgoose - EP stands for En Primeur. More detail and current EP offers are available on the TWS site here…



Ahhhh, very good. Thanks v much.


And if the idea of en primeur (or EP) appeals to you, then there is a dedicated group here that is currently opt-in

Go to: Groups

Then click to join the en_primeur discussions and these will magically appear on the home page for you :slight_smile:

Welcome to the community @Wildgoose and thanks for raising this issue, as we want the community to be as inclusive as possible for all members and not for an in-crowd

EDIT: BTW, what are you drinking? Is it good?


And remember to ask (memberservices@thewinesociety.com) specifically to be put on the list to receive EP offers; they are not sent to new members unless/until they ask. And keep a note of this email address: it seems impossible to find on the web pages.