A Review of Tasting Room By Lot18 June 28 2013, 0 Comments

Over the last few weeks, my Facebook feed has been filled with an ad for Tasting Room by Lot 18.  Maybe you’ve seen it too.  Curiosity got the best of me and I talked my wife into giving it a try. This review is a brief explanation of what TastingRoom is, what to expect, and if it is worth the price.

So what is TastingRoom by Lot 18?  Essentially it is a personalized wine club that helps you to discover what your preferred wines are and customizes the club selections to your palate.  This is done by creating a wine profile after tasting a few samples and rating them online.

Getting Started

It is easy to get started with TastingRoom provided you are of legal drinking age and live in a state that allows shipment of wine.  Fortunately for us, we meet both of these conditions.  The first step is to sign up to received your wine sample packet by heading over to www.tastingroom.com.  For $9.99 you get a box of samples.  This price includes shipping.

Shortly after signing up, about 5 days later, we received the sample package in the mail.  When you open it up you will find 6 small sample sized bottles of wine.  These bottles are packaged using the TastingRooom proprietary technology to get the wine into the tiny bottles and without losing quality.  We received 2 whites and 4 reds.  I’m not sure if everybody gets the same samples or it varies depending on where you live, so this photo may not be exactly what you get.

Review of Tasting Room by Lot18

To get started tasting the samples you need some wine glasses (check) and a laptop or tablet (check).  Inside the sample packet you will receive a little card with numbered on each side, 1 and 2 on the front, 3-6 on the back.  If you look closely at the mini bottles you will see that they are numbered too.  The next step is to log into your account at TastingRoom and go to rate your wines.   From here, there is some easy to follow directions and the site will guide you thru the tasting process.

The rating program starts with the white wines.  You pour the white wine samples into two separate glasses and set each glass on the corresponding number 1 or 2. Wine number 1 was the Ten Sisters Sauvignon Blanc and Wine 2 was the Loophole Chardonnay.  The website then guides you to taste each wine.  Tasting Rooms asks do you prefer Wine 1 or 2.  You click on the image of the wine that you like the best and viola you are done with the whites.  We preferred Wine #1 the Ten Sisters Sauvignon Blanc. At this point you can dump the wines or drink them.  We chose to drink them.

White WInes Tasting Room by Lot 18

Red wines were up next.  The red wines we received in tasting order were Hang Time Pinot Noir (3), Tour St. Georges Bordeaux (4), Elelin Malbec (5), and Fortuna Cabernet (6).  Tasting Room starts you off with wine 3 & 4 and you chose which you prefer.  We chose wine 4. Next we were to compare wine 4 with wine 5, again we chose 4.  Last we were asked to compare wine 4 with wine 6, and again wine 4 was preferred.  I’m guessing that if you chose one of the other wines you liked better that would have been the wine you continued comparing the other wines too.  And that concludes the tasting portion.

Red Wines Tasting Room by Lot 18

After you've completed the sample tasting, the computers start cranking up and instantly return your tasting profiles for reds & whites.  No surprise, we prefer earthy natural wines.  From your profile TastingRoom creates a personalized wine club for you.  About 30 days later you receive your first club shipment and each month after until you cancel.  We elected to cancel, simply because, we have our own wine store.  The wine selections that were scheduled to ship were quality wines and in the price range you'd expect to get for the cost of the club.

Final Thoughts

I think overall it did recommend a wine profile that I think we already knew we had so that was pretty accurate.  I did have some questions about how the results would have been different with different samples.  Most of the time, I do not prefer Bordeaux over other wine.  I chose the Bordeaux over each wine for the following reasons:

  1. Pinot tasted like strawberry water and was too fruity. I don’t always think this of Pinot
  2. The Malbec had a grain alcohol bite to it that made me prefer the Bordeaux more.
  3. The Cab which usually is my favorite, I didn't choose because I thought it tasted like ham.  My wife said “bacon”

Perhaps if the wine samples were different we would have had different results.

You may be asking, is it worth it, or maybe you’re asking why a wine store would rate its competitor?  Well, I can answer both questions.

For $9.99 you get a fun little wine game to play.  For most wine aficionados, I don’t think you are going to learn anything about your palate that you may not already know, so this may not be worth it to you.  If you like gadgets and trying new things, this could be a fun thing for you, and for $10 it’s a good value.  If you are just getting started with wine and don’t know your palate or what you like, I definitely think it’s worth a try, as it will steer you in the right direction. But take the results with a grain of salt, just because you didn’t like one of the samples doesn’t mean you will not like every wine varietal that is similar, and as your palate evolves you may find yourself liking wines you previously didn’t care for.  The good news is you have a starting point and if you continue with the clubs, you will get some good wines that you’ll probably love.

We decided to review our competitors’ products because we want to know what’s out there and what the consumer has options.  We think it’s great anytime a company can do something that is going to get more wine in front of more customers.  There’s a saying that a rising tide lifts all ships and it applies in the wine industry.  If TastingRoom can get more people interested in drinking wine; then that’s just going to help grow the whole industry.

For a better way of experiencing new wines, join the Vino Paraiso wine club where you receive 2 great wines, risk free each month. The wines we feature are our personal recommendations. Getting started is easy, and you can cancel anytime.

By: Nathan Peo helps out his wife, Yvette, with the day to day challenges of tasting wine for the family owned small-business, Vino Paraiso Wine Store.  You can also follow him on Twitter @VPWinestore. Cheers!