“What does wine have to do with fitness?” you may be asking yourself.
I realized that alcohol is not typically included in blogs about fitness and nutrition, except to say that you should avoid it, or to tell you that it has antioxidants. However, I know that no matter how healthy we try to live, many of us still love a good glass of wine or champagne from time to time. Perhaps on a special occasion, to unwind at the end of a hectic day, or as part of socializing/dining with friends and family. And of course, for its positive links to health benefits in regard to some cancers, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension!
That’s why in this blog I will be reviewing two brands of healthier single-serve wines that you can find online. These two wine are Wander and Ivy and Usual Wines.
Whatever your reason for enjoying a glass of wine, it can be an occasional part of a healthy lifestyle. And if you’re going to indulge anyway, then I would like to recommend some that will be slightly healthier options to help you stay portion controlled.
Are they worth it? Let’s find out….
Usual Wines and Wander + Ivy Wines – An Overview
These are both somewhat newer wine companies that are sold online. When I saw Lauren Kay Sims, an influencer on Instagram, pouring herself a glass of Wander and Ivy chardonnay out of the cutest packaging I’ve ever seen in a one-serving wine (not a tacky can, but a classy looking tall glass bottle), I immediately wanted to know more. This led me down a path of Googling other wines, which is where I found Usual Wines. The unique chemistry-inspired appearance of these wines also intrigued me, so when Black Friday came about, it was my chance to try them out at lower cost.
What Makes These Wines Better for a Healthy Lifestyle
Most wine bottles come in 750ml size bottles which provide about four large servings. When a bottle gets opened, it can disappear before you realize what happened….and by then you’ve consumed around 325-350 calories assuming you happened to split that bottle with someone else having two servings each. Those calories, aside from a little resveratrol that you could have gotten in higher potency pill form, are empty and will only lead to weight gain and a headache. Oops.
What I love about Usual and Wander and Ivy is that they give you single serve bottles for those days when you feel like a glass of wine but you don’t want to waste a whole bottle or go overboard. At 6.3oz each, these help you to stay portion-controlled with your wine, which is great for general health and well-being since more than one glass on a regular basis isn’t great for you. If you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight, then these also make it easier since you don’t have to debate with yourself about pouring “just a little more” and taking in more calories.
Beyond just portion control, each company has additional features that make them healthier, such as organic grapes and absence of sulfites, which I will share more about below in my reviews.
Wander + Ivy Wine Review
I discovered this Denver-based brand via Instagram one day and was captured by the incredibly cute tall glass bottle, design and feminine vibe of this. I was intrigued enough to check out their site, where I quickly found out that all the wines are made with organic grapes from small, family-owned vineyards across the world. These two features made me interested in purchasing, since not only are the wines attractive, but also a bit healthier and support smaller wineries.
What “made from organic grapes” means is that the grapes are not sprayed with pesticides or grown with common chemicals that can take a toll on your body and lead to issues like cancer and hormonal imbalances. That is my favorite part about these wines.
What it doesn’t mean that is that the end product is completely organic. In the process of making the grapes, chemicals like sulfites – which are harmful to health – can still be added, as well as sugars that bring down the healthy quality of the wine. So, Wander and Ivy cannot be classified as an “organic wine”, but it is made with organic grapes, making it a better choice for a health and fitness lifestyle than standard wines because you avoid the harmful pesticides.
Additionally, though this is primarily on online company, if you live in the Denver area, there are some select retailers where you can pick up these bottles. While visiting for the holidays, I managed to get the rose, sauvignon blanc and red blend at Total Wine and More.
- Website & Product Offerings
The Wander and Ivy website is very easy to navigate and very cute! The style matches the bottle design and logo and has a sweet, welcoming, and classy vibe. When you go onto the website it will give you pop-up an option to get a 15% off code off for your first order, which is always nice!
They offer just six varietals, so it’s pretty easy to kind of pick and choose the options that you want. Their site indicates that they have sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, rosé, red blend, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon. However, not every option was available on their online wine shop, so I ordered the chardonnay and the cabernet sauvignon which came in a holiday gift set of eight bottles. There were also options for one varietal of any amount of your choosing, a combo set of three wines, and few other combinations. I stuck to the basics of chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. The smallest amount you can order is four bottles at a time and up to 60.
The online order was delivered within a few days in a slim cardboard box that is nicely packed and very easy to store!
- Checkout & Cost
Checkout on the website can be challenging. When I removed one item from my cart, the whole cart would get deleted and I had to start all over, and it happened every time I changed my mind. The ease of this process could definitely be improved.
One good part of checkout is that I was able to easily find a 20% off code from an influencer online, which drastically reduced the price. And during the holidays, they were doing free shipping on all boxes, allowing me to try it without committing to a 24-pack, since normally you have to buy a case of 24 for free shipping.
Each wine costs $7.99 online without any discounts, but at Total Wine I was able to get them at $5.99 each.
- How Do Wander + Ivy Wines Taste?
Onto the most important part – how they taste!! Between my online order and trip to the store, I was able to try all the wines except the pinot noir. Here are my thoughts….
The Red Wines:
Cabernet Sauvignon –I had low expectations since reds are hard to do well, especially in a one-serving bottle. Yet I was happily surprised with this one! The 100% cab from California has tastes of cherry and spice with notes of toasted oak and vanilla. It had and a good overall structure, making it very drinkable – a great one for if you just want a nice glass during the weekday that can go with various foods. However, I would advise letting it breath for a few hours. On my first sip I didn’t get a whole lot of flavor, but when I had it with dinner a few hours later after letting it sit in a glass to open up, I got more complexity and spice, and by the end of the glass I was really enjoying it!
It wasn’t a a big, bold memorable wine necessarily (which I love ), but it was definitely better than many store-bought brands and better than I expected. I would order this one again.
Red Blend – Since I liked the cab, I figured I’d like the red blend as well. Not so much, unfortunately. This is a 55% bobal, 45% merlot from Spain, and the tasting notes are “medium-bodied, fresh and balanced on the palate, with hints of chocolate and spice”. This one tasted to me like any single serve can I could buy at the grocery store. Nothing special here, very little complexity, and fairly bland. It was on the softer, sweeter side than the cabernet, so more of an easy-drinking wine. But one that I will not buy again.
The White Wines:
Chardonnay – this was how I was introduced to W&I. I saw someone on Instagram pouring herself a glass, saying it was her favorite. I’m not picky about whites, so I had high hopes for this 100% chardonnay from California. Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed with this one as well. The tasting notes are “pear and apricot with hints of nuts and vanilla with a rich slightly buttery palette and the perfect amount of toast”. Perhaps I got a hint of pear and apricot from this, but otherwise it had more of a metallic or dirt taste at the end, very flat body and little flavor. I tried it several times hoping I would like it, but each sip tasted just as disappointing. I think “ew” even escaped my lips a few times.
Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé – I’m going to quickly lump these together with the chardonnay. While in Denver for Christmas, I picked these up after the chardonnay hoping they’d fare better. I mean, can you really mess up a rosé? I’ve never had one I didn’t like. Well, apparently you can. Both of these were just as metallic and flat as the chardonnay, the rose coming from France and the sauv blanc from New Zealand. I’m not sure if it’s the processing or shipping or what makes them taste as odd as the chardonnay, but these were also a big disappointment. My husband tried them as well and did not like them either. Such a bummer!
I really wanted to love such a great, small business that’s based in Denver where I’m from. I hoped I would love their wines as much as I adore the glass size and shape, branding, and sweet, loveable CEO who is very present in their marketing. However, after trying almost all of their offerings, the only one I would buy again would be the cabernet sauvignon.
Usual Wines Review
These also caught my eye on social media as another single serve option that also measures 6.3 oz (one large glass). They call these “real wines” because they’re curated the natural way – with no additives like most wines. No added sugars or sulfites, which is a huge bonus! Sulfites are chemicals that get added to most wines in the processing to help preserve the wine and what usually creates the next day’s hangover. These are two of the biggest health issues with wine, so avoiding these additives out makes them a much healthier choice. The grapes are also sustainably farmed, however I didn’t find anywhere that indicates they are organic. I wish they were, because that would really make this brand awesome! Maybe one day…
Now, here are my thoughts on their wines and some ways they compare to W&I.
- Website & Product Offerings
I did not like this website from the start. For my personal taste, the style wasn’t as attractive, and there is no navigation bar at the top – just lots of scrolling. It was harder for me to navigate, find the right buttons, and get info and answers about their wine.
Their offerings and options are smaller – they have a rosé, a brut rosé, a brut, a red, a red reserve (available at a higher price point), and a “spritz” (brut plus guava juice). You can purchase anywhere from six to 24 at a time, and the choice is to either order one varietal or get a combo of the rosé, brut and red, but there is really no mix and matching here. I didn’t like that because I would have preferred to only get my two favorite types. Therefore, I ordered the combo of 12, which was delivered in two 6-pack boxes decorated in Christmas cartoons and very cute and easy to store.
- Checkout & Cost
Usual Wines is a bit different in that you can order one-time for $98 for a box of 12 ($8.16 per bottle), or get a monthly subscription at $80 ($6.66 each). Shipping is also free here on 12 or more bottles rather than 24, which is nice.
Aside from buttons seeming to be in weird places and the look of the site kind of overlapping, the checkout was easy and smooth and there are some discount codes to be found online. The best I could find was $8 off, but I ordered during Black Friday, which was an automatic 21% off.
- How Do Usual Wines Taste?
Again, I went in with fairly low expectations, although I’d seen some great reviews online, so I was hopeful about the “Mixed Pack” as they call it.
Rosé – I started with the rose since, as I said before, I feel it’s hard to really mess for your average consumer. I liked it at first sip, but by final sipped I liked it even more! The tasting notes are strawberry, rose petal and rhubarb, which seemed spot on to me. This was a very soft, pleasant, drinkable wine – perfect for a summer day. It has that light refreshing sweetness to it and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I would order this again.
Brut – I don’t drink a lot of champagne or sparkling wine, but I do enjoy it and I like that Usual offers something sparkly. With tasting notes of lemon elderflower and bergamot, it’s a little bit dry on the finish and perfect for a little celebratory drink – or when you’re just in the mood for something fizzy. I was pleased with this one at first taste – much better than similar single serve options I’ve found at the store. I would definitely order it again.
Red – Yep, just “red” – no varietal listed here. However, if you search, you can find that it’s a blend of syrah and zinfandel – two of my faves. My experience with this one was very similar to what I said about Wander and Ivy. When I first sipped this one, it was just okay. Then I let it breathe in the glass for a couple hours and it opened up with more flavor and the complexity started to come out. The tasting notes are cocoa dark cherry and cassis, and it’s a darker, richer wine. After letting it breathe, I got a lot more spice on the finish, a little more body, and it started to taste less like your average wine from the grocery store. In fact, by the time I finished it, the taste resembled some higher quality wines I’ve had, and I was surprised me with how good it was. I would definitley order this one again as well.
Usual Wines vs. Wander + Ivy
What if you’re like me and don’t want to spend your entire paycheck on wine and have to pick one or the other to order? If you’re interested in both like I was and had to pick, which should you go with?
Well, both are very attractive, come in cute boxes, and make great gifts or party drinks. Both offer portion control and some healthier characteristics.
If cost is the main factor, then they’re fairly even IF you get the Usual monthly subscription (you have to commit to at least two months), or can find a 20% off code for Wander and Ivy. Otherwise, Usual ends up being a bit more expensive.
Obviously, we all have our unique taste buds, but considering all of the factors above, I would be more likely to purchase Usual Wines again. This is because I liked all three varietals and I prefer that they don’t use sulfites or sugar for health reasons, whereas I only liked one of the Wander & Ivy wines I tried (though I do still love their branding and warm, personal vibe!)
Hopefully this review is helpful as I had a really hard time finding what people thought about these wines. You can also watch my video review below. Please share this blog/video with others and check out the wines, then leave a comment so I can hear your opinion!