5 reasons | The pros and cons of buying from Naked Wines

5 reasons

The pros and cons of buying from Naked Wines

Naked Wines has been controversial since it launched 4 1/2 years ago but there’s no denying its popularity. The company claims to have over 200,000 customers who buy from it regularly, 125,000 of which are ‘angels’.

These are regular subscribers who pay £20 a month into the business which enables them to fund winemaking projects. (A bit like crowdsourcing projects such as Kickstarter.) In return 'angels' get to buy wines (using the money they’ve invested) at preferential prices.

The catch is that those prices are not quite as favourable as Naked Wines claims though it’s hard to compare as most of the wines they stock are made specially for them by the winemakers they subsidise.

They say their angel prices are ‘wholesale’ and 25% to 50% less than retail but that’s quite misleading. In instances where other retailers stock the same wines you can buy them on the open market at a similar price without having to put down your money first. And you can certainly find wines of comparable quality a lot cheaper than the full price that Naked Wines charges for them, hence presumably their ability to give away so many ‘free’ vouchers for £40 and £60 to encourage people to start buying from them.

I also don’t like the heavily loaded rhetoric on the site. “Would you prefer your wine made by salesmen or talented winemakers?”. “Would you prefer to pay more or get more?” Click the obvious answer and bang - you’re suddenly an angel, committing yourself to £20 a month and strongly advised to buy the Naked Customers Favourites Case,costing £112.88 which ‘saves’ you £82.99. Hmmmm.

Even though you can apparently get your money back at any time, the chances are that if you’ve got £80 of contributions sitting in their account you’re going to spend it with them. It’s all just a bit too slick and high-pressured for me.

That said, they do genuinely help to get winemaking projects off the ground and create a market for the wines that they make. And rescue winemakers in distress. All credit to them for helping a friend of mine, Katie Jones (right), who lost her much admired 2012 white wine when vandals broke into her winery in the south of France and opened the tanks.

When they heard about the incident Naked Wines created a ‘rescue case’ of Languedoc wines which Katie selected from other producers she admired which sold at the rate of a case every 2 seconds when it came out in May. She obviously has nothing but praise for them.

Other winemakers, a number of whom were working for other wineries but wanted to do their own thing, will tell you that but for Naked Wines they wouldn’t have been able to set up their own business.

Their customers seem to like them too, witness the 400 plus people who turned out to the tasting I attended in Bristol on Monday night (above), part of a week-long road show. And the almost cult-like following the company has fostered. Post anything mildly critical of them, as I did in the Guardian a year or so ago, and 'angels' will pile in to defend them.

They also have some good wines though I wouldn’t generally pay more than the 'angel’s' price for them. Here are seven I’d recommend - and three to look out for in the coming months:

Domaine O Vineyards Trah-la- lah (14%) Full price £12.99, Angel’s price £8.99

Imagine Bordeaux on steroids. This is a gorgeous gutsy Merlot-Cabernet blend with a dash of Carignan from an American-run winery in the Cabardes region, north of Carcassonne

Villebois Prestige Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (12.5%) Full price @11.99, Angel’s price £8.99

A rich lush sauvignon made from old vines in the Touraine region of the Loire - so effectively a Sauvignon de Touraine, albeit a good one. More New World in style than French.

Villebois Pouilly Fumé 2012 Full price £17.99 Angel’s price £12.99

The 'angel's' price is roughly what supermarkets are charging for own label Pouilly Fumé right now so this is a very good deal for an intense wine with a crisp mineral character and lovely wisp of smoke. Better than the same producer’s Sancerre.

Lay of the Land Destination Sauvignon Blanc 2012 Full price £13.49, Angel’s price £9.49

Definitely a cut above your average Kiwi Sauv Blanc with some lush ripe tropical fruit offsetting the usual gooseberry-and-asparagus character. (Look out too for winemaker Mike Paterson’s Pinot Noir which is coming through in August - see below)

Raats Dolomite Cabernet Franc 2011 Full price £11.99, Angel’s price £8.99

If you like Cabernet Franc you’ll love this deliciously fragrant example from ebulliient South African wine maker Bruno Raats. £8.99 is a good price for it but bear in mind that another online retailer the Fine Wine Company sells it for not a lot more for £54.89 a case of six or £9.19 a bottle.

Mauricio Lorca Lirico Malbec 2011 14.5% Full price £11.99 Angel’s price £8.49

A touch on the soft side for me but if you’re an Argie Malbec fan you’ll love it. One for your summer barbecues.

Oscar’s Douro 2010 14% Full price: £9.99, Angel’s price £7.49

I visited Oscar’s port house, one of the smallest in the region, when I was in Oporto last December and here’s his rich dark Douro red, a blend of the indigenous grape varieties that are used to make port. A real winter wine - if you buy some save it for long slow braises and casseroles.

And three that are on their way:

If you're a Naked Wines angel already you should definitely look out for these:

Richard’s Chardonnay (should arrive early autumn)

Made by British-born Richard Kershaw, South Africa’s first Master of Wine and the former winemaker at Mulderbosch: a really gorgeous lush, creamy chardonnay with pitch-perfect acidity - on a par with top burgundy. Likely to be over £20.

Lie of the Land Pinot Noir

A simply stunning New Zealand pinot noir - gorgeously fruity without being jammy. Should be available in August. Price unknown

Sam Plunkett 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (though probably under a different label)

A very grown-up dark, rich, dusky Cabernet from central Victoria's Strathbogie Ranges with much less obvious jammy fruit than many Aussie Cabs. Naked helped Sam, who used to make the Plunkett Fowles Ladies who Shoot their Lunch wines, buy the grapes and the barrels to make it so he’s a big fan of their business model.

Verdict: If you’re someone who wants to buy reliably drinkable wine, is not too fussy what they pay for it and wants to be spared the hassle of thinking too much about it Naked Wines could well suit you. If you sign up for the 'angel' scheme you’ll get them at a reasonable price and get a warm fuzzy feeling at helping a winemaker into the bargain. Just be aware you could get similar wines elsewhere at a comparable or even cheaper price.

If you found this post useful and were happy to get the advice for free perhaps you'd think about donating towards the running costs of the site? You can find out how to do it here or to subscribe to our regular newsletter click here.

Comments: 38 (Add)

Mary Robinson on August 5 2020 at 16:16

Wow!!!! I am so surprised to read these comments. I have been a member for about 1 year and have only had one wine I didn't really like and it was a Pinot Noir from Napa area or Washington and I prefer the Willamette Valley OR or Santa Barbara CA area. I have tried so many different wines from CA, WA, OR, Australia and Chile and I used to sell wine for National Republic Distributors and belonged to 4 or 5 different Wineries in California and in my experience with Nakedwines is AMAZING. I feel like I am drinking a $30-60 bottle for $10-17 dollars that I canceled our California wine club memberships that cost an average $40-60 for a decent bottle. Now I feel that I can open up a really nice bottle of wine nightly or every few nights and really have a very nice wine. I love this concept so much, I could work for them. I love helping out boutique wineries and having input with like-minded wine drinkers. This may not work for you if you are a sweet wine drinker or don't really enjoy the depths and layers of different wines. I get it, I used to be that way, but I gag over a $10-14 bottle of wine at supermarkets and Costco anymore..they all taste jammy and the same. I for one LOVE this company!

George B on July 14 2020 at 05:48

I have no idea why anyone is giving Naked Wines a bad review. They have always had exceptional customer service; any wine with which I am not satisfied receives an immediate and simple refund to my account, no questions asked. I have developed a liking for several specific wines and growers. Have i gotten some duds? Sure, but again, no questions asked i get a refund -- even if it had a 98% approval rating from everyone else. I pay $40/month which I get to spend on wine, free shipping to my door in about 3-5 days; every month or so, i get a free bottle from a showcased producer. I've been very happy with them.

Eric on June 8 2020 at 01:08

I received the "voucher" for wine from a company who failed me and used this to say "sorry". Well I looked at their website and read the BBB and other pages to see if this was actually a legitimate company doing legitimate operations. Turns our they are in fact a proper business selling what they claim.

The reality as many have noted is that the "angel" club program reeks of pyramid scheme even though from a technical standpoint, its not. Even to that feeling at all should put most on alert but many still line up to become "angels". Even that word "angels" just reeks of servitude that I prefer not involved in the consumption of goods. Anyway, onto the actual wine...

I ordered 6 individual bottles of Pinot Noir ( so that I didn't inadvertently sign myself up for their "angel" program). The bottles arrived just as expected. The bottles themselves were totally dusty which is fine, I know great bottles sit for a while so thats cool. We opened the first bottle and drank it with mediocre results AT BEST. I typically throw corks away because - well especially since COVID, I tend to finish bottles in the same evening their opened; this time for some reason I left the cork on the counter not taking any real notice of it. The following night we were excited to try another bottle and so we did. It tasted EXACTLY like the previous bottle. Ok, no big deal maybe they were similar by chance. Third night, third bottle EXACTLY the same taste. So I get curious and research the makers. It appears they are in fact different but I cant confirm it. I dig through through the trash to retrieve the previous corks. They are all "NakedWines.com" corks which surprised me. In a discussion with my girlfriend we wondered 'does nakedwines send their corks to each of these winemakers as a requirement for selling their wine or does nakedwines re-bottle shitty 8-10$ wines and slap companies "labels" on them?'

We probably will never know for sure but one is known, the 6 bottles we got were shit for the price we paid. Those odds shouldn't sit well with anyone who actually wants to pay a proper price for what they order. Those 6 bottles should have been 25-35$ at best instead of 90$.

John Doe on June 7 2020 at 01:13

If you get a broken bottle in your shipment, you are totally out of luck. You end up eating the cost of the broken bottle. Lousy customer service.

william bernstein on May 24 2020 at 20:10

found their prices very high for what are mostly second rate wines. cloud funding is a marketing con. they make it very difficult to unsubscribe

Jason on May 19 2020 at 20:39

People complaining about getting charged $40 per month must not have learned to read. I am not a naked wines member, I'm considering it and gathering info. When I went to the site to look into the "voucher," it could not be more obvious that you are signing up for a $40 per month subscription service. It's not even fine print. It's their model and they explain it clearly on their site. When checking out, 2 of the 5 list items on the right in the checkout section say, "Invest $40 a month into your Naked piggy bank
Which you can use to get exclusive Angel-funded wines." Complain about the quality and prices if you want, but calling the site a scam because you are too lazy to read is silly.

Sheridan on May 18 2020 at 02:28

Their business model involves taking $40 out of your account each month. I called to complain and this is apparently in the "fine print" while checking out. I went back to make another purchase and verify this, and could not find this written anywhere. I felt bad calling up and complaining about this because the poor person on the phone obviously has a horrible job of dealing with dozens of complaints about this per day. The wine was great and I enjoyed the product, but pure dishonesty undermines trust in the buyer-consumer relationship. I am sure this comment will receive a reply saying "we have fine print at check-out explaining this" and "we send an email to let you know". A far better business model would be to not rip people off of $40 and hope they don't notice. This is by far the biggest complaint on their website and it perplexes me that they continue to do this. Beyond disappointed with this company. I will not be recommending them to anyone anymore.

Bruce in Oregon on May 17 2020 at 15:58

Not recommended. In addition to the tricky $40/month "angel" fee, I am surprised they have not been sued due to company name infringements. Hidden in the bottom of their website it says they are not affiliated with Naked Winery in Hood River Oregon. Naked Winery produces some very good wines and has been around for decades. But the company names are way too close. "Naked Wines" vs "Naked Winery". Come on, be serious. This is deceiving to the consumer. Naked wines should not be allowed to use this name.

Cole in California on May 1 2020 at 17:43

We are quite happy with Naked Wines. We initially ordered using a gift card for $100 off. We went into it blindly, not really realizing the whole "Angel" thing, and we ordered a case of the mixed reds. We did not pay any shipping. Our wines arrived within days, and we enjoyed seeing the different bottles and choices. Yes, some were better than others, but most were surprisingly good. We were so happy that we chose to reorder. At that time, we noticed we had been charged the $40 Angels fee. Since the money was still ours, it didn't matter. We gave reviews for the wines and placed a new order for 1 1/2 cases. We chose some of our favorites plus some with high reviews. During the stay at home order, it's been a pleasant past time to examine & compare our wines, jot down notes and do online reviews. We enjoy looking at the various winery names, locations and art on the labels as well. We have been impressed with the quality and taste of our wines. Fortunately, our order was not delayed this time. We choose to remain customers of Naked Wines.

annoyed in nj on April 20 2020 at 02:09

After reading the person above from PA getting a delivery I'm even more disgusted by this company.

Apparently NJ isn't good enough to ship to. They send these $100 vouchers to the state and then when you log on they say sorry we won't ship to NJ but we will ship to pretty much any other state including Alaska and Hawaii.

What a pathetic thing to do market in a state you won't ship to. I'd stay far away from this company since they obviously have awful marketing and ownership running this monkey stand.

Ed on November 27 2019 at 19:12

Very bad customer service and worst shipping logistics, don’t care very much about making a customer happy

Adrian Sheppard on November 1 2019 at 17:47

Be careful. These "scammers" just put £10 in my account and a free bottle of Pinot noir in my basket!
How dare they!?

Andy on August 30 2019 at 04:15

As a none subscriber or a new subscriber I can buy in the next 15 hours and have delivery for free on Saturday for spending over £100. As a subscriber when I log in the same deal applies but I cannot have delivery until Monday two days later. Nice that the company value the customers that commit so highly. They are just like an insurance company giving the best deals to hook new customers and giving a second class service to regular loyal customers. To be fair I don't expect anything different from a Naked Wines. They lock wine makers into exclusive distribution deals so the wine doesn't reach the open market, with no price comparison available they can claim over inflated prices for what is often just average wine. They give two prices, the 'market price' and the Angel price, isn't this misleading when the wine isn't on the open market how can it have a market value. All the talk of helping the growers and good deeds is just to give you a warm fuzzy feeling, believe the hype if you want but make no mistake they are a stone cold cynical business to the core. The primary winners are Naked Wines, take a look at their annual balance sheet.

Steve D on July 30 2019 at 18:50

NOT a scam. Those saying otherwise must have the attention span of a 5 year old because when you sign up, it is clearly stated that you are committing to deposit $40 per month which small winemakers will use as capital. ALL money deposited can be used to buy wine or can be withdrawn after 6 months if you change your mind. The wine is mediocre, but for the price it's a good deal IMO.

David K on July 15 2019 at 18:26

I have been a NW member for a couple years now and have enjoyed the process. The wines are good and the service fits my needs. I have never had a bad wine but did let them order me a mixed case one time and will stick to picking my own wines. This is not a scam it is just an opportunity to order wines a different way and to help some wine makers get their feet under themselves.
The reviews are good and knowing a LARGE number of people like the wine and would order again is helpful for me as I am willing to try new wines.
Bottom line: It is a club and you will sign up and have money taken from your account. You do get to order good wines and have them delivered to your door. I order a case at a time and do not pay for shipping.

Paul Michael on July 4 2019 at 21:42

Signed up for the cheap case and had no idea I was being subscribed. Apparently i was waiting on some angel list. What a load!! Found out through a friend who had no idea either. Went to unsubscribe but was unable to on the website - surprise surprise the “take me off the list” button would not proceed. I sent an email asking to be unsubscribes. Hours later, overnight. my account was hit for 40$. How coincidental! Scam at its best. Pity because I thought the wines were ok. But now I resent the brand.

Faruk on June 6 2019 at 04:26

Alot of people here either have not read the conditions or do not understand how NW work. $40 deduction is still your money in their kitty (under your account to spent) until you decide to spend it which goes towards the wines you choose and pay. If you do not buy any wives this month ($40) it becomes $80 next month. And as they say if you choose not to buy any wines after six months then you can request your ($240) money to be transfered back your bank of your choice with any panelty or fees... so where the so called scamm comes in to this. Yes you may find better cheeper wines then its your choice. So don't spill your wine here please. Do your home work first.

John B on May 12 2019 at 02:34

One more comment. MERCEDES BENZ is not for everyone. That's why they still make Honda

John B on May 12 2019 at 02:26

Sounds like sour grapes to me. I have bee a Angel for some time never had a bad experience with naked wines exceptionally good customer service and great wines at good prices. Seems you don't know about wine or service.

Michael Sokol on March 21 2019 at 22:41

I want to thank all of the people for their comments, I'll continue to buy from my local store. Your comments saved me from getting scammed out of 40$

Joe Durham on March 13 2019 at 19:05

Customer service is exceptional, I’ve never bought a bad wine from them. Many are excellent. Not sure how anyone could’ve had a bad experience with Naked Wines. There is a waiting line of 180k people wanting to become “Angels”. Doesn’t that tell you something????

Will on January 9 2019 at 07:45

It seemed liked a good idea to get a discount. I went through with registering and bought a case of red wines, I also looked into the $40 charge per month and thought the "angels" option was strange. However, I am not much of a wine drinker and was only in it for a one time deal. I was sure to cancel my account after I recieved the delivery. I now believe NakedWines might be a good option if I were to stick with it and purchase only the wines I preferred, however, I don't go through that much wine per year. On the other hand, although I was thrilled to recieved the wine, the entire case only consisted of dry wine. After tasting the first bottle, I was dissapointed and wished I received some sweeter wines. In addition, I searched for the wines I received online, reviews were scarcely found. I was not surprised to find a few sites selling them separately at low prices. Delightful, yet vague, descriptions are also provided for the wines. It seems as if the wines I received are not familiar to anyone because of the lack of comments and zero rating. There is also an option to "be the first to leave a review." Before buying from the mentioned site, or any site, I suggest knowing what you are buying after some thorough research.

Jason on January 5 2019 at 06:33

There was not a single good wine in the mixed case I received. Absolute garbage, gives west coast wines a bad name.

Fletch on August 15 2018 at 15:06

I have been enjoying wine for 40+ years and spent much of that time involved with industry representatives at many different levels developing a palate for serious comparative tasting. I recently joined NW and found my first case to be pleasantly enjoyable, even the least favored of the lot was quite drinkable. Is NW a wine venture for everyone? Most likely not. If you enjoy new offerings from talented wine makers who needed the capital to launch, it is a satisfying feeling to contribute to their success. If you work the process as I do, you wait a few months in between orders and purchase nothing less than a case; then you enjoy free supping and no taxes. For the novice, let the age-old warning, "Caveat emptor!", direct your involvement in all future dealings.

stockjock on July 6 2018 at 07:09

I've been a Naked Wines customer for several years now. Generally, I'm quite satisfied at the quality of wines I receive at this price point. I rarely receive a poor wine and I've had some that were excellent. But mostly, they're very good.

Each month, I get 1-2 free bottles of wine. I like the idea that I am helping out the winemakers in a pretty direct way. The winemakers usually respond directly and graciously to both praise and critique.

Shipping is free with a 1 case purchase (I usually only have to buy 11 bottles) with no tax. Customer reviews are plentiful and quite helpful.

I think it's a nice company on multiple fronts and I do recommend Naked Wines. And no, I have no affiliation with them in any way.

DONALD on April 24 2018 at 22:10

Do NOT buy wines from this site...well unless you are a frat boy or homeless. In that case, go for it, you are not interested in quality. I was completely disappointed with the shipment and gave as much of it away as I could the same day I received it (to frat boys incidentally). I called to inform naked wines of my disgust and was met with indifference and nonchalance. Of course, I was NOT offered any type of recompense. I repeat, do NOT purchase from naked wines, they will send you nothing but garbage.

Allen on April 23 2018 at 17:33

Get a preloaded visa card from Walmart, load money for wine on it, use it and when they try to charge the $40/month it wont work AND you get the discount price. LOL

Paul on April 14 2018 at 05:07

THIS IS A SCAM! If you make a purchase from this company they will automatically sign you up for some kind of subscription service. I was furious to find that a month later they had deducted a further $40 from my bank account, without my consent.

The e-mail they sent says that they intend to continue withdrawing $40 per month from my credit card. I have sent them an e-mail telling them not to and asking them to return the $40 they stole from me, but I have not had a response as yet. I will pursue a complaint through the ombudsman and possible criminal charges if this is not rectified.

Do not buy anything from them under any circumstances. They work like those automatic subscription services on mobile phones where you have to opt out of something or they will subscribe you. Even though you never agreed to a subscription service in the first place.

papadon on April 7 2018 at 15:54

Warning! Got a gift card for $60 off case of assorted wines, so I took a chance and used it to buy a case of assorted reds. The wine was delivered soon, but I did not realize that by ordering, you were automatically billed $40/month. I never authorized this billing. The wines in the case were all sub-standard and I would not have bought any one of them again. This is a scam in my eyes.

Tyrone D. Costa on February 28 2018 at 19:24

I cancelled before with another wine delivery. I found I missed the experience hunting and also the human interaction with my wine guy. He has only missed once...every recommendation in every price range has been good to excellent. And the one miss is probably more related to the mood I was in when drinking or perhaps some temperature control issues during shipping. Good review though thank you.

Jeffrey Bradt on January 3 2018 at 23:21

Thank you for the critique; I will certainly consider canceling my Naked Wines account as I am not an 'Angel.' I did not want them to take $40.00 from my account every month without asking so I opted out of Angels.

Bruce on January 3 2018 at 06:31

Not so sure! Sounds like a crock of croooks. But, could be ok. You need to keep your eyes open for the good deals!!

Karen on January 1 2017 at 04:25

Recently bought a 12 bottle white wine sampler. I've tried a few bottles and given away a few and so far, I feel like I can stick to my spirit shop. They weren't bad but nothing I'd write home about. I did like the fact that it is delivered to my door and shipping was super fast. Not sure I'd like to be an "angel" though because the prices seem a little steep for wine you aren't sure is going to be any good.

Kevin O'Rourke on December 14 2016 at 06:36

There are so many 'White Label' wines these days that it's practically impossible to decide if anything is of true value or the proper price. The slick marketing and consistent hype marks Naked as one of the biggest exponents of smoke and mirror wine selling.

I'm quite sure they are just a bank and would collapse straight away once the cash flow dries up.

Fiona Beckett on December 9 2016 at 08:37

I think in general 'mystery cases' are a poor buy. Much better to know exactly what you're getting. I need to update this post with some newer vintages!

vinyar77 on December 9 2016 at 08:21

I must admit my spouse and I were sceptical from the get, and it is true 99.6% of the wines offered on NakedWines.com can not be found anywhere else- we have searched, trust me. Further, we are not sure their prices are always a steel, but they do seem to stand by their guarantee of 100% satisfaction, and that says a lot in my book. However, all that said, their wines are still a hit and a miss, you must order a minimum of 6 bottles, and pay $19.95 for each shipment plus tax. Most are palatable, some even good, but we are 12 bottles in and have chucked 4 of them, receiving new mystery trials in their place. So in the end, if you are adventurous, read the other "Angel" reviews of the wine, like to try new varietals, and have the 40 a Month Fee there are worse giggs out there you could spend it on.

Randy Klein on May 27 2016 at 17:49

"Their" wine is not Angel priced.

Alex Stevens on February 18 2016 at 19:27

There wine was overpriced. The same bottle is a dollar cheaper at our town spirit shoppe.

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