There have never been so many wine club delivery services as there are today. This is not shocking information, we know, as an era of direct consumer happiness is already upon us, and obstacles like the pandemic make the model all the more appealing. It can even go further, when the experience involves wines seemingly distant, in a way that puts the environment first.
Living is that club and is changing the playing field of the home wine tasting kit. After trying the Bordeaux Essentials kit at home, it was fairly easy for me to see why the program is getting so much buzz, including an impressive nod from Wine lover as nominated for innovator of the year. The club has several advantages, including real experiential tastings and the habit of presenting wines from organic farming (i.e. no synthetics both in the vineyard and in the cellar).
There are quality arguments even against organic farming and production, but compared to conventional farming, this is by far the better choice, especially for the environment. This makes Vivant all the more attractive. And, as a drink writer bombarded with weekly excess, especially in the form of packaging, I like the format too. Vivant sends kits with 100 ml bottles, under screw cap. This means no glass, nor the energy and resources to create and ship glass, nor cork. Just a small box full of six sought-after wines and access to informative digital tastings.
How it works
One of Living
The main principles of Vivant are to eliminate the carbon footprint of wine. It’s a big task for an industry that involves agriculture, production, shipping, and a lot of jet-set tourism. So instead of going to Bordeaux, the famous wine region came to me. I was greeted with a box of six bottles from some pretty famous producers, for a total volume of 600ml of wine (a regular bottle is 750ml, mind you). The tip above is to enjoy the duo tasting, which is about perfect to have enough to really swirl, taste, and rehearse.
The kit included wines from famous chÃ¢teaux such as Ferran, Haut-Bergey, Grand Corbin-Despagne, etc. The wines were united in terms of regionality but very distinctive and impressive overall. This is a particularly interesting time to taste the incomparable French region, as it finally recognizes climate change and seeks not only to produce wines in a more sustainable way, but even to authorize new grape varieties within its sacred vine rows.
While you savor, you can spruce it up with accompanying live or on-demand video. Various well-known types discuss the climate, varieties, geography and soil of the locality (s) that produced the wine. It’s a nice element to have in the background in particular, as it’s not intrusive but will likely arm you – especially those new to wine – with some fascinating facts. If you choose to fully engage, there is plenty to do, including random pop quizzes, bios on the different producers, and more. If you don’t like being told what you taste, turn off the tasting part. However, if you like this stuff and need to put your finger on what you smell or taste, this can be of some use.
Digital accessories are divided into various topics, such as food and wine, travel, essentials, and tasting. There’s even a booming music and wine section. On the wine side, there are currently more than 20 kits and counting available. There is also a membership tier, much like signing up for a wine club, which allows for discounts on kits, a personal wine advisor, and a few additional perks. You can take this route for monthly or annual contributions.
It’s a club worth trying. Even if you don’t care as much as a pro walks you through the tastings (certainly my case), the wines alone are well organized and the format is elegant and thoughtful. It is therefore recommended primarily from a wine supply point of view, as most of the kits provide a nice introduction to the famous region they represent. But there is also a fun element of travel, which takes you to Burgundy or the Rhone without the stuffy air of treated planes and annoying tour groups. It’s kind of like a trip to Grandma’s house, but instead of Tang and a boring slideshow, you’re treated to compelling wines and an interactive dive into a popular part of France’s wine list. I mean, even casual wine drinkers love the images of old French chateaux as they sip (that’s the main reason I watch Round).
Currently, Vivant is offering three free experiences as part of a larger promotion, and as you add new experiences each month, the options will only continue to multiply. There’s not much to complain about, other than the slight awkwardness that accompanies anything interactive these days (polls, subtle delays, green screens, the sometimes forced participatory element). But we’re all used to it now and overall Vivant’s approach is pretty streamlined, especially for being so new. It will be fun to see how it develops, whether in France or other iconic wine countries in Europe and beyond.