Author’s Blurb: I’d usually buy the cheapest bottle of red wine at the store because my partner and I can’t tell the difference, much like Leslie Knope from Parks & Recreation. It doesn’t make sense to splurge on finer ones because it’s not like we have enough experience to compare them anyway.
For Hwei-Kim Chin (Kim) and her partner, the joy of drinking wine comes from exploring, trying new things, and gradually developing their palate.
Through their wine subscription service, Pour Decisions, they’re hoping to help others discover wines at reasonable prices with ease.
Filling Up The Empty Glass
Just a day before the MCO, the couple had returned from their fulltime jobs in Yangon, Myanmar, to work from home in Malaysia. When stocking up on essentials—which included wines for them—at the grocery store, it wasn’t long before they got bored with the options offered.
“We realised very soon that although all the grocery stores we visited had aisles and aisles of wines, they were all the same identical brands,” said Kim.
And so began their market research in discovering that others are also eager to move from entry-level wines to more boutique alternatives. However, most didn’t know where to begin and were intimidated with wine salesmen who’d approach them in stores.
They also found that many people, especially millennials, placed a high value on quality, convenience, and overall experience. This market is also more open to trying new concepts.
It was an opportune time too, given that more wine delivery services have been commonplace for those in Klang Valley since the MCO.
Now, the wine subscription service isn’t new in Malaysia. There was previously one called Wine Club by Wine Talk, but from a quick Google search, it seems that they’ve stopped offering this service.
Yet Kim is confident that Pour Decisions is a sustainable one as their business model is built around servicing their customers. As a business, they will continuously evolve to stay relevant to their ever-changing customer demand via engaging them on social media.
She joked, “We also thought that in a worst-case scenario where the business doesn’t do well, we would just be stuck with a bunch of wines that we really like. We were able to negotiate a really good price for them too. 100% validation!”
One Bottle Of Monthly Fun
For RM270 a month, Pour Decisions will deliver three 750ml bottles of wines which include 1 red, 1 white, and 1 “fun”.
The fun bottle could be anything from a Prosecco to a rosé, or an under the radar white or red bottle that the couple has newly discovered.
Every month’s box will follow a distinct theme which can base around a wine’s origin, such as its region, climate, terroirs, agricultural practices, etc.
For example, the theme for December was small family-owned vineyards, while for January it was organic wines. For February, they will follow the theme of coastal vibes.
Because the business is mostly targeting wine novices, a QR code is printed on each box. This will lead customers to a brief writeup of the month’s theme and background story of each bottle.
“Every bottle has a story, a place of origin, and at least a handful of people who worked hard to get it from the vineyard to us. We aim to make each drinking experience a little bit more relatable and enjoyable this way,” said Kim.
Pour Decisions claims in their FAQ that customers won’t be able to find these wines anywhere else.
That’s because the wines are sourced from independent winemakers and vineyards that are less commonly found in regular grocery stores.
Though it’s not to say that the latter’s varieties aren’t good, as they’re popular for a reason. But the couple found a different delight in tasting new varieties from smaller, lesser-known vineyards.
A Non-Commital Subscription
The subscription boxes are sent out on the first Wednesday of each month for an RM10 delivery fee for those outside of KL.
Though they call themselves a subscription service, subscribers are allowed to cancel anytime or skip a few months depending on personal preferences.
As most aren’t allowed in bars during the MCO, Kim shared that the MCO 2.0 has in fact facilitated their growth since starting November last year.
In their 3 months of operations, they’ve reported that returning customers make up at least 70% of their customer base. Pour Decisions is also seeing a steady increase in new subscribers every month.
In the long run, they’ll be looking into combining wine and technology by utilising algorithms and data. This will be done so that customers can receive personalised wine recommendations based on their unique preferences.
Kim admitted that it’s not a new idea and has already gained traction across the US and Europe. But her goal still remains: wine should be more accessible, convenient, and easier to enjoy.
Bottom Line: Due to the low commitment offered by their subscription model, I can surely see the value of ordering it as and when I’d like it. For RM90 per bottle, it’s pretty good value for money too. I think it’s well suited for beginners like me who don’t know where to start when trying to understand more about wines.
- You can learn more about Pour Decisions here.
- You can read more Malaysian startups we’ve written here.
Featured Image Credit: Hwei-Kim Chin and Keon Wong, co-founders of Pour Decisions