Looking for wine that doesn’t make you feel crappy?
Want to drink a glass of wine in the evening and still stay on your diet?
I feel you. I’ve been looking for the same thing.
I’ve been scouring the internet for wine delivery services (you know, cuz Covid) that would give me what I’ve been looking for, and one possibility is Scout and Cellar.
- “Clean” Wine?
- Scout & Cellar Wine Service Review
- Pros and Cons of Scout & Cellar
- A More Affordable Alternative
- One BIG Difference
- Taste and Effects
- Thrive Market Wine Prices
- Bonus: All Your Other Groceries
Either way, let’s talk about clean wine for a minute.
The concept of “clean” wine seems absurd when you first hear about it…wine isn’t really a health food.
However the more I read, the more I realized there’s a bunch of stuff in most wines that shouldn’t be there.
There are contaminants from the production like pesticides, herbicides, and sulfites, all of which can make you feel rough in the morning. Then there are ingredients they add to alter the flavor of the wine, most notably sugar.
Quite a while ago, I gave clean wines a try. I was nearly shocked at the difference drinking a clean wine makes.
I describe the experience of clean wine as “transparent” to the body.
There’s still a warm buzz, that’s not missing, but most (if not all) of the negative effects of wine consumption are missing.
I wake the next morning feeling like I drank nothing but grape juice the night before, and that’s a nearly miraculous difference.
Scout & Cellar Wine Service Review
Scout & Cellar is a popular clean wine delivery service with features that make it pretty flexible compared to other similar services.
The wines offered by Scout & Cellar are all partnered with the service. You can see that by the labels, each bottle is stamped with the Scout & Cellar logo somewhere on the label.
Scout & Cellar participates in the production process, which allows them to exercise more control over what’s in the wine, but also limits the selection somewhat.
The Scout & Cellar selection is still reasonably broad. It covers the typical categories of red, white, rose and sparkling and has several choices within each of those categories.
There are also some wines available in aluminum cans as opposed to normal glass bottles, if that’s your thing.
The way the service is packaged is also a hybrid model. You can join their wine club called Scout Circle; that gets you free shipping, better pricing and some other extra perks. That club is a direct competitor of Dry Farm Wines and comes with the same major drawback: you can’t choose the bottles.
But Scout & Cellar also offers a standard e-commerce model where you just go to the site and buy only what you want. The a la carte model.
Scout & Cellar goes to more trouble than average to make sure that your wine arrives sufficiently insulated.
This is especially important during the summer months and in warmer climates. I once took a wine class where the instructor claimed that wine “dies” at 86 degrees fahrenheit.
Wine contains living organisms that don’t survive once it reaches that temperature, and the flavor degrades after that. Scout & Cellar insulate their boxes to prevent that, which is a very nice touch.
You can see the pricing on their site, but it ranges from $16 to $52 per bottle with many options in the $25+ range. I’d call it roughly mid-range pricing for wine in general, but pretty much in line with other clean wine options.
Pros and Cons of Scout & Cellar
Scout & Cellar is one of the more popular clean wine options, and it has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
- “Clean” wines deliver on the promise. There was a definite difference in how I felt after drinking these wines vs. my regular wines (mostly from the Naked Wines service or purchased from the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list).
- Flexible purchasing options with the club where you don’t choose the wines and the a la carte option where you do.
- Aluminum can options for those who prefer that packaging.
- Insulated shipping containers prevent wine from going bad from too much heat.
- Lack of detail on what “clean” means.
- No ability to sort by features (like organic vs. biodynamic).
- The cost is moderately expensive per bottle of wine.
- The flavor of the wines is ok, in my opinion. They were serviceable wines but none stuck out as memorable or especially flavorful.
The Scout & Cellar marketing materials repeatedly mention that they are keeping “yucky stuff” out of your wine, but I couldn’t find a lot of detail on what that means exactly.
They are participating in the production process and claim to lab test the wine twice, but they don’t publish the results on each bottle like Dry Farms (sometimes) does.
Because you’re trusting them to keep the wine clean, there isn’t a lot of resolution when it comes to making more specific choices. You’d probably only notice this when you compare it to a service like Thrive Market wines (see below), which gives you a lot of filters for making your own choices.
A More Affordable Alternative
Another service I tried recently was the wine section at Thrive Market. Thrive Market is basically an online grocery store that caters to any dietary restrictions you might have.
Their wine service is similar to Scout & Cellar’s a la carte option. All of the Thrive Market wines are organic and chosen by a master sommelier for their taste, quality and sustainability. You can also go farther in filtering the wines to your taste and diet.
Thrive Market allows you to filter the wines by:
- No Added Sweeteners
- No sulfites
- Certifications (Biodynamic, Organic, B Corporation)
- Farm type (Family owned, Sustainable)
- Vegan (I’m perplexed by that option)
- Average customer rating
One BIG Difference
The big difference between Scout & Cellar and Thrive Market is the filtering for qualities that matter to you.
At Thrive Market, you can not only order a la carte, you can filter for the qualities of the wines that matter to you the most.
You just apply whatever filters are important and you’re presented with a selection of wines. Then you can choose whatever sounds good and if you like it, you can order more of that exact wine.
Taste and Effects
On average, I enjoyed the flavor of the Thrive Market wines more than the wines I got from Scout & Cellar.
In both cases I chose wines I thought I would like, I just thought the Thrive Market wines had more character.
The effects were the same in terms of how I felt. Perhaps it’s the lower sugar content or the lack of pesticides, but whatever I normally react to wasn’t there.
Thrive Market Wine Prices
Both Thrive Market and Scout & Cellar selections have lower priced and mid-range options in terms of price. The wines that I ordered from Thrive Market were cheaper on average than the ones from Scout & Cellar.
To compare total pricing, you have to consider shipping. At Thrive Market it’s free if you order $79 or more in wine alone (food ships separately). Thrive Market also has an annual membership fee, but amortized across all your wine (and food) purchases, it would only add a nominal amount.
Scout & Cellar provides free shipping if you choose their wine club option, or when ordering a la carte if you order 6 or more bottles. Six bottles at Scout & Cellar is very likely to exceed $79, so it’s probably not going to be as affordable as Thrive Market on this shipping front.
One nice feature of Scout & Cellar is that they do give you volume discounts on larger orders automatically.
Bonus: All Your Other Groceries
Wines are only one aspect of Thrive Market. If you’re a health-conscious person who sticks to a diet that is strict in some way—which you likely do if you’re interested in Scout & Cellar—then you’ll find a LOT to like about Thrive Market.
You can filter ALL their products by factors that are important to you. Their whole selection is similar to a normal grocery store, with packaged food, frozen food, meat, supplements, health and beauty products. They have everything except fresh produce basically.
So you’re getting a ton of value beyond just the clean wines. For this reason, I think Thrive Market is a far better value.