Do you order wine online?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Dining' started by LizzyDragon84, Aug 2, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. LizzyDragon84
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    LizzyDragon84 Gold Member

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    Lately I've been seeing a lot of interesting wine deals online from different online-only wine sellers. My wine budget is a bit limited- I'm not going to be dropping $50 on a bottle of wine anytime soon. But many of the sites I've been watching lately are offering prices that are up to 50% off retail and sometimes they throw in free or discounted shipping as well. The upside, beside the price, is that they also offer wines I can't find in my local wine shops. The downsides are that I can't try the wines and there's a risk of wine getting damaged or cooked during shipping.

    I'm curious if anyone else buys wine online and if so, from where and what your experience was like. I've ordered once so far from Lot18 (affiliate link), and the wine (some New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc) arrived intact despite the 90+F FL heat. I'm thinking of pulling the trigger again on some Argentinean wine.
     
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  2. MSPeconomist
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    I'd rather establish a relationship with a local bricks and mortar wine store where they can make personal recommendations and invite me to tastings.
     
  3. Gaucho
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    I of course have a horse in this race (I am a bricks and mortar wine merchant based in Buenos Aires).... but to my "defense" I will state that I was a consumer-collector for a long time before I exited the corporate world and entered into the wine business, Ive been a Wine Merchant for only 7 years, Ive been a consumer collector for 15+ years before that.... and the above is clearly the way to go.

    Internet only merchants will never be able to deliver even a fraction of the service that a real merchant with a store can offer. Internet purchases are an option when you know exactly what you want and perhaps want to find the best price... but this also has its caveats & pitfalls.... the devil is in the details.
     
  4. MSPeconomist
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    To answer more fully, I would consider ordering wine on line or at a vineyard to be sent to me only if my local wine store(s) could not order something that I know and love. However, depending on where you live in the USA, there can be legal issues even if the vendor or winery is willing to send it to you. Some states prohibit the importation of alcohol, including wines, and in other places you are supposed to pay taxes on it or first obtain a special permit.

    I find it fun to get to know one or several local wine stores well. After they get to know your tastes, they can lead you to some real finds. Tastings--IME usually for free in the store at announced times--are fun and special events such as wine dinners, tastings/dinners with winemakers, and very special charity tastings are even better. It can take some time and experimentation to find wine stores and clubs/groups that are a good fit for you, but it's well worth it to do so. I've been fortunate to participate in some amazing special experiences through my wine store connections.
     
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  5. NYBanker
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    I direct probably 75% of my buying now to benchmarkwine.com. These guys are pretty interesting, and most of what they sell is "secondary," meaning it comes from a restaurant's or individual's cellar. They do get some first release offerings from Napa, but typically from more off the run producers (many of which are list only, and very good).

    I've built a bit of a virtual relationship with the group there. Whitney and Keri are the main two people that I deal with. They email whenever they make an acquisition, and I simply email back with what I'd like from their current purchase. I live on the east coast (and they're in California), so they hold everything for me for free and ship twice a year (April and October). When the wine comes, it's sort of like Christmas! They will ship more regularly if you wish. The seasonality issues on shipping clearly aren't exclusive to them.

    They keep my cc on file, at my request when I get their emails, so I just say, give me 4 of the '06 Turley Dogtown and they take care of the rest. I've only been to their website a handful of times. I like being able to take care of everything on my blackberry from where-ever. Their website has their inventory online, too.

    While there's risk in secondary purchases, there is also risk buying at your corner store. Across probably 100 cases ordered over the past 5 years (half of which have been consumed), I've not once had a problem with their bottles.

    The two salespeople there have gotten to know me and my styles. A few times, I've been flying places where there were going to be gatherings - I'd email them, tell them the kind of event it was going to be, menu, etc, what my budget is, and they make me a proposal. They then ship to the house or hotel where the event is going to be.

    I've also asked for recommendations, and they have offered some pretty good values. They price most everything to be 5-10% below winesearcher prices. They don't charge sales tax outside of California.

    These guys are worth a try.
     
  6. gleff
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    Thanks, will check them out :)
     
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  7. milchap
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    I just was at a local wine shop Banville and Jones. You can't beat the personal touch.
     
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  8. travelgourmet
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    I actually order much of my wine directly from the wineries. I'm on a couple of mailing lists and I also will buy by the caseload when I visit wine regions. I frequent a couple of nice wine shops, but many of the wineries I really like simply don't do much retail and others might not offer their full range in the retail market.
     
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  9. MSPeconomist
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    This works best if you live in a state that has few restrictions regarding wine. Many wineries will only ship to a pretty small group of states, the mass producers tend to be willing to ship to most states (the ones that don't outright prohibit it, as they have permits and a system for most places where it's legal) and some ignore the law and put the burden on you to get permission if necessary and pay any taxes owed to most states. If you live in a place that has barriers, it's all a matter of what you're comfortable doing versus how bad the in-state retail choices and prices are.
     
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  10. WinecountryFlyer

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    My recommendation would be to make friends with one of your local wine shops. Ask questions and find someone who is knowledgeable about wine. Tell them some of the wines you like and ask for similar recommendations. Once you built a rapport with them, they'll be able to pick wines with your palate in mind. With a limited budget, you don't want to be spending your money on shipping when you could be enjoying another bottle!

    If you'd like to explore some online shops, I'd recommend K&L Wine Merchants and LA Wine Company. Both are very competitively priced and once in a while offer free shipping. Because of distributor agreements you can often find wines there cheaper than if you purchased them directly from the winery.
     
  11. OneSweetWorld
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    I did the Wall Street Journal wine club. Surprisingly it was awesome and including shipping it was only $7-8 a bottle. Every bottle was delicious.
     
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  12. tondoleo
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    I have ordered wine from winelibrary. Once. It was a disaster. They failed to email me the tracking information. I returned from a trip to find the Fedex form that my wine was in storage. I retrieved in the next day and it had baked a bit. Yuk.

    Although not ordered via online I now call Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant. I find new wines by reading his monthly newsletter online. Thus I am online. KLWM delivers the wine at no charge to a 3d party shipper. They ship the wine during the cooler season to my southeastern locale. It works great. There are some sales for groups of wine of 15 - 20% during certain times of the year. I enjoy all of the wine ordered via Lynch.
     
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  13. MSPeconomist
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    Welcome to MP.

    Are you affiliated with the wine business?
     
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  14. travelgourmet
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    I think you underestimate the number of states that have relatively liberal shipping laws. For example, a smallish winery that I like is Penner-Ash. They deliver to 39 states (+ 8 more if you order at the winery). Another small winery I like, Drew, delivers to 36 states. Perhaps your statement should be rephrased as "This doesn't work if you live in one of the states that has burdensome restrictions regarding shipments of wine"?

    And I think you also miss the point of ordering direct from the winery. It is not about pricing. It is about getting access to wines that are simply not available at your corner liquor store. One winery where we are on the mailing list is Williams Selyem. They simply do not sell retail and 95% of their wines are sold directly through the mailing list. Your options are to be on the list or find a restaurant that carries it. Even wineries that sell in the retail market may have wines that are in limited release. Often, these are among their most interesting wines. Honestly, we barely buy retail any more, because the wines we want are simply not available in the retail market.
     
  15. jbcarioca
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    I use wine.com several times per year to order specific wines I know. I have them shipped to my US mailbox at UPS stores, where i put the wine.com carton in a piece of luggage the precisely matched their shipping container and bring them home to Brazil. I would not use them were i to live in the US. I also use two Brazilian online stores, again only for things i specifically know. I'd prefer to deal with wine specialists if I could.
     
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  16. WinecountryFlyer

    WinecountryFlyer Silver Member

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    Thank you for the welcome.

    I am not affiliated in any way with either of the 2 recommendations. I have personally purchased quite a few cases of wine from each company and find them to be very reputable with very competitive pricing.

    I do have several friends in the wine industry and am a club member at several wineries in both Napa and Sonoma, but that is the extent of my direct involvement.
     
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  17. Jimgotkp
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    47 more days then I can legally purchase/consume alcohol in the states. In 48 days, I will most likely be purchasing wine online.
     
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  18. JetsettingEric
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    JetsettingEric Silver Member

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    I use vinesse for the miles (it's almost US Airways grand slam time). They have a grab bag special that brings the cost under $10 and you get some decent table wine. I've been spoiling myself recently with some better wine from napa, but vinesse is perfectly fine for an everyday wine.
     
  19. RSSrsvp
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    I have found The Reserve Wine Bar & Shop extremely competitive and their prices by the case which are often times less than buying direct from many wineries helps to offset the shipping charges. In addition, if you place a large order like I did last Christmas time, the owner Ed will sharpen up his pencil even more on many wines in his inventory.
    http://www.thereservewines.com
     
  20. RSSrsvp
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    Another good website where they offer special deals is The Wine Spies. They offer a heavily discounted price on one wine daily which is sold on a quantity-limited basis.
    http://thewinespies.com/
     
  21. LizzyDragon84
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    Just wanted to wish you a happy early birthday!
     
  22. Jimgotkp
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    Thank you! Looking forward to it! :)
     
  23. sealiz
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    I have ordered wine from online places as well as from the wineries I enjoy. I like invino.com as well as winespies. The Pike & Western wine shop in Seattle picks things for me when I give them a "general" what I'm looking for information. I looked at gilttaste.com today and was laughing when one bottle they were selling was going for $495. I am not their demographic for that bottle!
     
  24. estnet
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    I've only purchased online when I found an excellent price for Krug:) A little nervous b/c they didn't guarantee condition in transit but it all turned out fine. Otherwise I purchase locally (but I've got lots of great places to choose from)
     
  25. aussieflyer
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    Bevmo 5 cent sale.
    Just love it!
     

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