Naked Wines is like Shark Tank for small winemakers — I tried a suspiciously generous $100-off voucher and was surprised by the quality of the wines

Image: Facebook/Naked Wines
  • I discovered Naked Wines thanks to a A$100-off voucher and was impressed by the quality of “easy drinking” wines, the 100% satisfaction guarantee, and the interesting way the company supports small winemakers.
  • Naked Wines is kind of like a “Shark Tank” for the wine industry where winemakers propose a wine, and once it gets approved, they get an advance to make it and sell it for an affordable price on Naked Wines’ website.
  • The way they fund the advance is through “Angel” members, aka customers who invest A$40 every month into a wine bank account. This account is always available for you to spend, and you get perks including up to 40% off listed prices.
  • If you don’t want to “invest,” you can still buy bottles of wine like you would at a regular wine store.
  • Get a A$100 voucher at Naked Wines here.

If buying unique wines at wholesale prices and having them delivered to your doorstep sounds ideal, you should check out Naked Wines.

The eight-year-old company invests in 57 Australian and New Zealand independent winemakers, using a lean business model to bring unique, high-end wines to market for cheap.

For consumers, Naked Wines is a relatively inexpensive way to get good, unique wines sent to their door. For winemakers, it’s kind of like a “Shark Tank” for their industry: They propose a wine, it gets approved, and Naked Wines gives them an advance to make it happen. Part of how the company has the funds to operate this way is through over 100,000 voluntary “Angel” customers in Australia who act as investors.

Once accepted into the program (and I’d wager every “applicant” is), Angel members invest A$40 every month into their Naked Wine piggy bank. This pool of crowdfunded money helps Naked Wine invest in its winemakers, but it’s also never lost to Angel members; the A$40 in the virtual piggy bank can be used on their individual wine orders whenever they like – in other words, it’s pretty much like a wine bank account.

If all goes to plan, it’s good for the company, the consumers, and the winemakers – like Carmen Stevens, reportedly South Africa’s first black woman to graduate in wine-making (funded by 2,000 Angel members and $US200,000 in eight hours).

To be clear, what you’re getting is not quite a wine subscription in the traditional sense. You can just buy wine directly from the site as you would anywhere else (though you need to order six bottles to ship), but the site’s Angel members get special perks. They save up to 40% on all their orders and get a ton of freebies and perks like a free premium bottle of wine every month when they order a case of wine, access to Angel-only wines, invites to exclusive wine tastings to meet the winemakers, and access to an exclusive priority hotline for any needed support.

Using the voucher, I got a Taste of Summer Mixed Dozen with 12 bottles of wine across a wide spectrum of offerings from the site. With the A$100 voucher – which you can get by clicking this link and entering your email – the case was A$70.38, instead of its current Angel price of A$170.38 (its traditional cost is listed at A$247.88).

In-person, the wines are good. I was satisfied and even a little surprised by their quality given the fact that I received A$100 off lots of wine. The affordable bottles were what you’d call “easy drinking” wines – none that were bold and weird and revelatory – but perfect for casual drinking. Naked Wines hit the “weekday wine” niche perfectly.

If you place your order by 3pm, shipping will take two to three working days in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth metro areas, and two to four business days in Brisbane, Canberra and Adelaide (you can find their delivery calculator here). If you’re an Angel you’ll also get cheaper delivery. In Sydney, Melbourne or Perth Metro areas, your delivery is free. Unfortunately, Naked Wines don’t ship to Northern Territory.

One thing I would stress is that if you have any difficulty with your shipment, or you don’t like a wine, you should contact Naked Wines for help. My experiences with them were as a consumer rather than a reporter, and I was impressed by their easygoing willingness to make sure I had a positive experience, even when it wasn’t to their immediate advantage. This means that if you really hated a wine you were sent, they will refund you. The site has a No Fuss refund guarantee, so if you don’t like the wine, they’ll refund your account.

What makes Naked Wines even more appealing is that it’s also pretty social. Winemakers and members interact with each other. Winemakers get feedback directly from customers, and customers can ask them questions. Indirectly, members can rate and recommend wines to each other.

This communication creates an optional whirlpool of discovery and self-improvement, which is baked into the business from the top down to the granular level of your account; if you don’t like a wine, give it a thumbs down in your Naked Me account. From then on, they will help steer you away from wines that taste similar to the ones you didn’t enjoy. Naked Wines also uses this as an indirect polling system, helping them determine which winemakers are doing the best job of making wines people really love.

The bottom line

All in all, Naked Wines has good wine for an accessible price, with the opportunity to be as involved as you want to be. It’s also easy to cancel right in your online account if you change your mind as opposed to calling or emailing customer service.

If you use Naked as a casual wine drinker, you’ll discover great and affordable wines (even if you don’t take advantage of the A$100 off coupon) through an interesting system that makes you feel more involved than just ordering another case of wine online.

Get A$100 off your first Naked Wines order here.

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