Club W delivers tasty wines worth waiting for

Delicious bottles of wine. Hand-selected for you by industry pros, based on your personal palate's preferences. Shipped directly to your door, every month, for less than $40. Welcome to the club -- that is, Club W.

See also - Four ways to give the gift of wine (and buy local) this holiday season - Three Colorado winemakers worthy of Drink Local Wine Week love

This clever little Denver-based startup is about to turn one, having launched nearly a year ago to almost instantaneous success based largely on positive word-of-mouth generated by so-hip-it-hurts QR-code labels affixed to each bottle that when scanned, direct drinkers to a short video of Club W curators' (Table 6's Aaron Forman, Elise Wiggans of Panzano, Ilan Baril of The Capital Grille, to name a few) straightforward -- and sometimes hilarious -- descriptions of each wine.

Club W's premise is simple: Get people to drink more wine by making it seem...well, cool. They also make it easy -- just go to their website, answer a few basic questions to let them know what kind of wines you like to drink (establishing your "palate profile") and decide how many bottles you want to receive each month. The basic model includes delivery of three boutique wines for $39, but if you're looking for something a bit more special, you can upgrade to their Curator's Choice selections (highly allocated, slightly edgier picks) for $19 each. Also cool? You can gift wine shipments to your family and friends, and best of all -- there's absolutely no obligation -- you're free to cancel anytime.

The selection of wine varies from month to month, but always features off-the-radar bottles from independent winemakers. At $13 per, the wines are perfect for every-night sipping and offer peeps who might be less wine-savvy the chance to explore grapes they've never tried without much of a financial commitment. But what Club W does better than anything is showing people what's typical for a given variety while gently educating them along the way. Here's our take on four particularly tasty bottles we recently sampled:

Blue Pirate Pinot Gris 2010 ($13): Named for the pair of blue birds that visited the grounds of the Dundee, Oregon-based hazelnut factory where the wines are now produced, this one's a poster child for pinot gris, given its lush palate of crisp apples, juicy pears and warm spices. Medium-bodied and easy drinking, there is a lovely kiss of citrus to contrast the creamy texture of the wine, which we paired to great success with a dinner of takeout coconut chicken curry. A perfect introduction to pinot gris - and a great depiction of how it differs from its vinous cousin, pinot grigio.

Longue-Dog White Blend 2010 ($13): The label is pretty hysterical, actually: a stretched-out dachshund enjoying a jaunty stroll may not exactly conjure up images of fine wines - but then again, that's exactly the point. The winemakers behind this white blend from the Languedoc region of southwestern France purposefully eschew standard wine marketing in favor of promoting the not-so-serious side of wine. Colombard and chardonnay are the primary grapes responsible for the wine's tangy lemon-lime and Granny Smith apple-based flavors that will race across your tongue as a helpful reminder that not all chardonnay wines must be oaky and buttery. While you might tend to think winter is no time for drinking white wine, consider this a refreshing pre-dinner alternative to your usual cocktail, given the lively, palate-tingling acidity present in this gem.

Enanzo Tempranillo 2010 ($13): Hailing from Navarra the region just east of Rioja, what a refreshing little number this was. Riper than other youthful Riojas we've had, we savored the layered spicy, smoky aromas of cigar box and nutmeg that preceded mouthfuls of dried cherry and blackberry fruit. Although there can be no doubt that this is an old world wine, the decidedly juicy flavor profile makes it a bit of a crowd-pleasing party wine (aka, one that doesn't require food to enjoy).

Fattoria Leila Rosso Piceno 'Nero Scuro' 2011 ($13): In spite of its somewhat-daunting name, Club W does Italian wine-phobes a huge favor with this one by introducing them to smooth, berry-driven bottle that's a delight to drink. Rosso piceno is the name given to red wines from the Marche region of Italy; blends of sangiovese, montepulciano and splashes of a couple other grapes indigenous to the region. The phrase 'nero scuro' means dark black, reminiscent of the deeply hued, inky red color of this wine in the glass. With a core of bright, sassy raspberry, cherry and plum fruits, we loved this bottle so much, we re-upped for another in our next month's shipment.

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