Palate Club Review: Come Blind Taste with Me!

It seems like every day there are more and more great ways to buy and learn about wine. Even if you’re in an area without great local wine stores, there are still lots of excellent ways to access quality wines – as long as your state’s laws permit you to receive them. Now you have apps, websites, newsletters, and wine clubs in many different forms to choose from.

Palate Club is one of these new e-commerce platforms that has arisen in the last few years. They have a website and app offering you the ability to buy wines as well as a wine club option that is tailored to your taste. The thing that sets them apart is their taste-matching technology. They offer blind tasting kits – you can choose between red and white – that includes four half-bottles for you to taste and review via their app. Once you review the wines, the app (or website) gives you a personal assessment of your palate which you can then use to make wine selections on their website and/or you can choose to join their wine club through which you’ll receive wines selected to suit your palate. As you taste and rate more wines, their machine learning technology continues to learn your preferences and becomes more attuned to what you like over time.

If you prefer not to order a blind tasting kit, you can start off by taking a quiz on their site to give a sense of your tastes and preferences. 

Palate Club sent me a red blind tasting kit ($59) as a sample to review the service. (Note: no other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.) Today, I’m going to break it all down for you in detail to give you an idea of exactly what the experience is like, as well as what I liked, and what I didn’t like. 


The basics of the process are described above, but I’ll lay it out here step by step.

Order your Blind Tasting Kit

Simply choose between their red and white kits. Alternatively, you can fill out their quiz online.

Get Ready to Blind Taste! 

The kit consists of 4 half bottles that come wrapped in paper to obscure the label. Each wine has a number code to identify it during the blind tasting. Pour out your wines, then make sure to download the app or get yourself set up on their website. 

Rate Your Wines

Once you get set up on the app, go to the Tasting Tab. You can then rate each bottle via its number code. Actually, I don’t think I even had to enter the number in – my codes were already loaded in and I was simply prompted to rate each one. You can rate each one on a scale of 1 to 5 stars as follows:

1 = Never again!

2 = No, thank you.

3 = Not my style.

4 = It’s good.

5 = Love it!

As you enter your ratings, the wines are revealed. Don’t worry, you can change your rating if you revisit a wine and change your mind. 

Get Your Initial Palate Assessment 

Once all wines are tasted, you’ll get a graph of how the app has evaluated your wine preferences. The graph breaks down different components of structure and gives you an idea of how you respond to these different components. This assessment will adapt over time as you receive and rate more wines.

Set Up Your Account

If you choose to start a subscription, you can choose the frequency of shipments, the price point, and the number of bottles. You can also indicate your preference for white, red, rosé, and sparkling wines, and your level of adventurousness. You can pause or cancel your subscription anytime.

Alternatively, you can choose to explore the website and make selections for yourself.


There’s a lot to really like here. 

I enjoyed the blind tasting and I really think that blind tasting in general is a very useful way to figure out what you like without letting preconceived notions muddy the water. Half-bottles were also perfect for this scenario, as then you don’t have to feel guilty about opening four regular bottles. I also enjoyed having half-bottles around to mix and match with dinner and to take on picnics over that weekend. 

The curated selection of wines on the website is limited but quite good. I saw options from a number of producers I really like and the prices seemed quite fair. The wines are selected by sommeliers and they feature sustainably made wines from artisan producers. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of the equation if you like to support these types of winemakers – which I do! I know it can sometimes be a little confusing, and often people don’t know where to start in searching out these types of wine – that’s been taken care of here.

Along the same lines, I really liked seeing a fair number of grapes and regions that are not as well known alongside more classic ones. I’m a big proponent of exploring these types of wines as they can be excellent places to look for good values and new and interesting wines.

I really like the degree to which you can customize your memberships, even indicating how comfortable you are with trying new things. I’d definitely jump in at the deep end and go for the most adventurous option. I want to try whatever is new and weird that I’ve never had before! . . . but I know that’s not everyone.

The app/site also provides lots of info on each of the wines in their portfolio for those that want to learn more about the wines they’re drinking. Many times there are even videos you can watch to give you a glimpse of the region, winery, and/or winemaker.  The Blog section of the website also provides info on wine basics and tips on wine pairings, and you know I love to talk about wine pairings. (Come over and visit me on SommsTable.com to really geek out on this front.)

As with the bottle prices, shipping costs also seemed pretty fair to me, with the cost being waived on orders of more than 6 bottles or with membership shipments.

(Note: most places on the website say that shipping is waived after 6 bottles, however, in the FAQ section it says 8. Just noting this point of confusion.)


Ok, I think I’m a bit of a weirdo here and I don’t think most of my critiques would actually apply to most people.

The wines in the tasting kits are meant to be divisive so as to get an idea of what flavors you prefer in your wine: earthy, fruity, floral, spicy, herbal, etc., etc. The wines were well-chosen for this and represented various key styles well. The problem for me in specific is that I like ALL of those styles in different contexts, but I can be picky within a given category. Also, after about 10 years of studying and working in wine, I tend to know how wines typically evolve and where they work best, so when I taste a wine I’m also thinking about all the different contexts I might enjoy the wine in, how it might taste after it opens up, and what foods it’ll work with. It might be a case of knowing too much for my own good. I’ll give you examples of what I mean by these points in a minute.

By this token, I found the 5-star scale a little limiting, particularly given how the descriptions for each of the star rankings were worded. It’s meant to be simple, so you can’t give reasons for why you like or don’t like something. With a 10 point/star scale, I would’ve given a wider spread of rankings which might have given more insight into my palate. I had definite preferences between the wines, but with the system set up as it was, they all ended up getting the same score: 4.  My husband, Greg, pointed out that asking for a forced ranking might’ve also accomplished the end of getting a more precise idea of my preferences.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, I’ll lay out my reactions to each of the four wines, without giving away the winemaker details, just to give you a glimpse into my complete thought process. (The codes lead me to believe that the selections in blind tasting kits change, so I don't think I'm giving too much away. Plus, the order of wines can change, etc.)

  • Wine 1:  This wine had lots of red fruit character, plus tons of herbs and floral notes, and was lighter in body than the other wines tasted that day. It was pleasant to drink on its own, but I thought it would be even better with food. I’d be happy to have more of this kind of wine to pair easily with dinner. If I’d had to give a forced ranking, it probably would’ve been my top one for the day. It turned out to be a California Pinot. We tend to go through medium-bodied reds like this very quickly because they pair with food so easily. I will note that I had Greg taste the wines later in the afternoon, and while he likes most styles of wine as well, we do diverge when it comes to floral wines. They tend to put him off where I like to let my nose dive into the glass and take in the aromas. This was his least favorite wine, so where he is concerned, the system worked. 

  • Wine 2:  I could tell this was a wine style I normally really like, but I wasn’t digging this particular bottle. My impression was that it was likely a blend and probably something I drink often. I liked the fruit profile, the balanced spice notes, and the dried herb notes. However, when I first opened the bottle it also had SUPER mossy notes that were really overwhelming to me. I initially gave it a three. However, I also knew that the mossy factor was likely to blow off with air, so I came back to it an hour later. Sure enough, it had largely blown off and I changed my score to a 4. It turned out to be a Côtes du Rhône – the Rhône is actually my favorite red wine region and we do drink CdR’s often. While this wasn’t my favorite expression, it was very much my style. See the rub there?

  • Wine 3: This wine had ripe red and black fruit notes, full-bodied with smooth tannins. It was bright and not at all earthy. It was nice, easy-drinking, but pretty straightforward and uncomplicated. It was a good wine for drinking on its own, but might be a little harder to pair food. This also tasted like California to me and was of a style that I have plenty of given that I live here and what’s around me. For that reason,  while I liked this wine, I don’t really need much of this style sent to me. It turned out to be a California Cab, albeit less heavy than many, which tends to be my preference.

  • Wine 4: This wine screamed that it was from Italy . . . even if I hadn’t seen it on the capsule. (This was the one aspect of the bottles that wasn’t fully covered.) It was super earthy, had elevated acid, elevated tannins, with lots of herbal notes. After all of that goes by, then the bright red fruit notes join in on the palate. This struck me as likely to be from a pretty classic Italian region and grape – perhaps Nebbiolo or maybe Sangiovese. This style of wine is a little rough to drink on its own IMHO, especially just after the bottle has been opened. From experience though, I know this type of wine pairs really nicely with many foods and it also opens up and evolves a lot with air. It turned out to be a Chianti Classico, which is Sangiovese from Tuscany, and I do like to keep bottles of these around. Hello pizza and pasta!

So despite widely different reactions to each wine, they all ended up with a rating of 4.  🤷🏻‍♀️

I suppose that there is still value (for the app’s sake) in knowing that I liked everything to at least a moderate degree. From the selections I saw on the website, I think that I would enjoy most selections sent to me. So despite the jumble of thoughts going through my head, I'd likely be fairly easy to please in the end given the selection of wines available. 

Moreover, despite everything, the palate assessment came up with a decently accurate picture of my palate. On the other hand, as I looked around the website, some of my absolute favorite wines showed the lowest percentages in how they were likely to match up with my palate. I recognize that this would likely change over time as I rated more wines.

That said, this is also probably why they leave the option open to select wines for yourself, so that weirdo wine geeks like me, as well as super picky people and control freaks, can pick out stuff for ourselves. 


I just wanted to offer a couple of quick tips for the blind tasting:

  • Pour the wine about 20 to 30 minutes before tasting them and/or revisit them a little later.
  • Since you’re likely to have wine leftover after the blind tasting, try them with food and see how different wines work with different dishes. 

While I think it’s great to get your initial gut reaction, you might be surprised at how your reactions change as the wines get air and as you pair them with different foods. Having several small bottles open is a great excuse to play around and experiment.

Alternatively, have a tasting party with a few friends – this amount of wine is great for about 4 people. It’s always fun to compare how your tastes line up or differ. 


On the whole, I think this is a great option for most people, particularly those wanting to branch and try out new wines but aren’t sure what to try next. 

It’s easy to get stuck drinking the same things over and over again, which is too bad since there is a whole world of wine out there to discover! I realize that can also be overwhelming though, and it can be hard to know where to start. Palate Club makes this much easier by taking the guesswork out of the equation by selecting wines for you that are more likely to match up with your personal tastes. 

I did personally feel a little limited by the ranking system and would have liked the opportunity to give more granular detail. However, I think the system’s simplicity is likely to be a benefit for most users.

Additionally, if you’re interested in buying and supporting wines from winemakers that work in a sustainable way, this is a very good option since they’ve done the homework on that front as well. This can be a benefit for those of you out there who already know what you like, but want to be more conscientious about what you buy. In this case, you might opt to check out the selections for yourself.

The site/app is also full of great extra content for people who are interested to learn about the wines they’re drinking. The club options also offer lots of flexibility across many spectrums including price, frequency, style, and even your level of drinking adventurousness. 


On the whole, I don’t see many downsides and mostly just upsides at the opportunity to easily open up your wine world and try new things. If it appeals to you, I say go ahead and give it a shot!

Check out their FAQs for more information and details.

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links, from which I might earn a commission at no cost to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment