First, The Wall Street Journal got a wine club, and now, the New York Times has announced the New York Times Wine Club, for those who’ve always wanted to show off their refined palate and their sophisticated intellect at the same time. Sign up for the Times Sampler and you pay $15 per bottle (or $90 for a six-pack) for “everyday drinking,” or spring for the Times Reserve ($30, $180). According to a Yahoo Finance article, the club operates independent of Times critics (it's operated by one Global Wine Company), but their musings are included with each shipment (and on the club’s website), so in addition to shocking and awing your dinner guests with “hand-selected reserve bottles from some of the most exclusive winemakers in the world,” you can also share some trivia about cauliflower cheese. By the way, shipping and handling will cost you $19.95, but that’s the price you pay for knowing your grape juice has been approved by the paper of record.
So why is the Times going this route? In an announcement in the Media & Advertising section, the paper says it’s “looking for alternate ways to make money as its advertising revenue plunges” and the “unusual brand extension” is a way to “delve further into our audience and bring them products and services that basically enhance the bond with the New York Times.” (You know, the same way Sports Illustrated would give you a football phone with your subscription.) Put simply: The paper is doing what restaurants have been doing all along — making up the money they lose in other areas by selling booze at exorbitant prices. (Though, to be fair, these prices don't seem too outlandish.) We’ll see how it works out.