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The Short Version: SommSelect has taken the expertise of a world-class wine sommelier and delivered it to people’s doors. The online wine shop has multiple monthly wine clubs, including their new build-a-case program, and every wine bottle in SommSelect’s extensive rotating collection has been handpicked by a team of sommeliers with decades of experience. If you’re celebrating an anniversary or a special date night, you can consult SommSelect for the perfect red, white, or sparkling wine to set the mood and create a lasting memory.
Ian Cauble grew up in Huntington Beach, California, and studied business and Spanish in college. When he completed his bachelor’s degree in 2003, he decided to follow his passion for travel, food, and wine.
“Like most 20-somethings, I had no idea what I wanted to do when I graduated college, except that I wanted to get out and see the world,” Ian recalled. “So that’s what I did.”
Ian got a job making $2 an hour harvesting grapes at the oldest Port house in Portugal. He saved as much money as he could to fund travels to other countries. He visited Morocco, India, Monaco, and Austria over the next few years. He also worked in a pub in London. Everywhere he went, Ian sampled the local cuisine and enjoyed trying different types of wine.
“Ultimately, it fueled my passion for understanding how the world eats and drinks,” he said.
He returned to the U.S. with a newfound knowledge and perspective, but he soon discovered he still had a lot to learn. At age 24, he was challenged to a blind taste test with a Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley. He had never even heard of this wine. So, he signed up for an Introductory Course with the Court of Master Sommeliers, an American organization for wine education.
The next decade of his life was dedicated to studying wines. By 2006 he had passed two of the first four levels in the Court of Master Sommeliers process. After passing the Advanced level exam, he only had one hurdle left: the three-part Master Sommelier exam, which is notoriously difficult.
Filmmaker Jason Wise followed Ian through the late-night study sessions as part of a documentary called “Somm.” It conveyed the diligence and knowledge it takes to become one of the top wine experts in the world.
After three years and three attempts, Ian became the 197th person to pass all three sections of the Master Sommelier test. He went on to launch a wine subscription company called SommSelect in 2014 to share his knowledge and passion for premium wines with customers across the U.S.
The idea for SommSelect was born out of Ian’s experience traveling the world and then training to become a Master Sommelier.
“I realized how many people in the U.S. would love to have access to the expertise of a Sommelier for their wine needs,” Ian said. “SommSelect connects the average consumer with the art and skillset of a Master Sommelier.”
SommSelect is on a mission to provide access to the knowledge and expertise of well-trained Sommeliers. The digital wine shop stocks over 250 ever-changing types of wines that vary in price from under $20 to over $700. Its subscription packages offer four to six wines chosen by an expert.
Couples can explore the world of wine by sharing SommSelect’s recommended wines over dinner or at a picnic lunch.
“We support small wine producers from around the world that have a strong focus on organic and biodynamically farmed wines,” Ian told us. “What makes SommSelect different is every wine we sell is hand-selected by our team of on-staff Sommeliers.”
In fact, the entire SommSelect team has some level of wine expertise — even the customer service agents. The company makes a to point to put wine knowledge at the forefront and help people find the vintage that meets their budget and their tastes.
A lot of care goes into each wine recommendation. Ian and his sommelier team have sampled every wine highlighted by SommSelect, and they write wine profiles to explain the rich history and tasting experience behind every glass. Each wine description also includes a rating based on its fruitiness, earthiness, body, acidity, tannins, and alcohol.
“Our customers have come to love the notes we write about each wine, covering everything from where and how the wine is produced, to different tasting notes to expect when you drink it, and even great meal pairing ideas,” Ian told us.
In 2016, David Lynch joined SommSelect as the Editorial Director and brought a lot of enthusiasm and expertise to the table. David is a two-time winner of the James Beard Award, and he literally wrote the book on Italian wines. “Vino Italiano” is a comprehensive guide to Italy’s 300 growing zones. David has worked behind the scenes at restaurants and has even owned a restaurant in San Francisco, so he is passionate about using food and wine to bring people together.
“Our entire wine team combined has over 100 years of experience, and we literally search the world of wine looking for amazing values from under-the-radar regions and famous winemakers alike,” Ian said. “We do that work, so all you have to do is enjoy.”
SommSelect has four ways to enjoy quality wines. Customers can check out the Daily Offers, sign up for a Wine Club, buy a bottle or two at the Wine Shop, or get a Build A Case subscription. Any of these offers can help stock a personal wine cellar in preparation for a party or a date night, and it’s an impressive way to treat yourself to something new.
“Our wine clubs are the perfect way to spice up any date night and give you something to look forward to every month,” Ian said. “Or if you are shopping for a special occasion, I would suggest heading to our wine shop where you can find a recipe pairing with every bottle!”
As part of the Daily Offer, SommSelect sends two daily email drops featuring its favorite bottles, which are sold in limited quantities. These bottles often sell out within a few hours. The email offer will include food pairing recipes and tasting notes. Through the Daily Offer, the team of sommeliers introduce people to new wines and can help them determine how and when to serve it. Anyone can sign up to Daily Offer for free and see if an interesting bottle of wine appeals to their taste.
The company has four Wine Clubs that deliver a monthly shipment of four to six wines centered around a theme. Some boxes celebrate a particular region or a particular grape varietal. The subscriptions range in price from $99 a month to $220 a month. The Blind 6 can be a fun built-in date night where couples can try wines without knowing what they are — confident that the wine will be delicious. The six bottles are wrapped in black tissue paper and numbered, so wine connoisseurs can put their taste buds to the test.
Whether you favor red whites or white wines. SommSelect has some wonderful options on hand and can make recommendations that can upgrade any tasting experience.
SommSelect customers can find curated collections based on taste, wine type, drinking experience, and other distinguishing features. For example, the warm weather package can provide nice additions to a picnic date.
The newest offering on SommSelect is the Build A Case subscription, which costs $10 a month. This unique package allows customers to purchase bottles of wine over time and save on the cost of shipping by building a custom case of wine that ships once you reach 12 bottles. Couples can prepare for a month’s worth of date nights by curating a custom case of 12 bottles that suit their tastes.
“This is a great complement to our Daily Offer because you can choose a bottle here or there, without worrying about shipping on each one,” Ian said. “It’s an innovative way to shop for wine.”
Wine lovers of all ages and backgrounds have benefited from SommSelect’s expert suggestions and guidance. The subscription company makes a point to be beginner-friendly and affordably priced, so customers never feel as if a premium bottle of wine is out of their reach.
“There’s a misconception that Sommelier-chosen wine is expensive, but I promise you will never drink better for less money, than when working with a Sommelier. SommSelect brings that experience right to your doorstep,” Ian said. “It’s always exciting to be part of someone’s journey of getting into wine — helping make great wine from around the world accessible.”
SommSelects works closely with small wine producers who maintain sustainable farming practices and have a reputation for making high-quality wines. Ian has put a lot of thought into the sourcing of the subscription company’s wines, and every curated box contains a tasteful representation of the world’s top vineyards.
Over the years, SommSelect has gotten rave reviews from customers who have said the wines have expanded their taste horizons or elevated their date nights and celebrations. It’s a fun opportunity for people to benefit from sommelier recommendations and try new grape varietals or different vintages from regions they may not have access to otherwise.
Whether it’s an at-home wingman or an icebreaker gift at a party, a premium bottle of wine can bring a lot of good vibes to a lot of social situations. After decades of traveling and tasting, Ian has made it his mission to ensure wine lovers always have an excellent vintage at hand.
“It means the world to us to have the honor of sharing the world’s greatest wines with our customers,” Ian said. “Personally, I’m looking forward to getting back to traveling and discovering the best new wines around the world to bring to our customers.”