Buying Wine Online

First the good news: you can buy wine on the internet from a variety of retailers and have it delivered to your door. This can mean access to wines that just aren’t available in local stores, and because these internet retailers post their prices, it means that comparison shopping is easier than before. Even if you end up buying at a local store, you can still get a better idea of the going rate for your favorite wine.

What’s the catch?

Shipping has got to be the biggest negative. Any liquid in a glass bottle is going to be heavy and breakable, so that will add to the cost. And in the US, each of the fifty states are doing their level best to make it as much of a hassle as possible – many different rules about who can ship what where. An adult signature is generally required, so someone of legal age must be home when the wine is delivered.

Do a lot of people buy wine online?

Not in the US. Online wine sales are only about 2% of the total here. But wine on the web is catching on in Europe where 8% to 10% of sales are over the internet – 15% in the UK.

But where can I buy wine online?

I don’t have direct experience with any particular retailer. But if (when) I buy wine online, these are the names I would start with:

These web retailers have a good selection, a track record, and they made about.com’s Online Wine Buying Guide. Except for my top pick. Amazon is new to selling wine and about.com doesn’t mention them, but I’ve been a satisfied customer for a long time – if they’re selling wine, I’ll probably buy!

Notes and Further Reading

These two articles go over the lay of the land in online wine sales.
Buying Wine on the Web is a New York Times piece that discusses the promise and limitations of the web as a marketplace for wine. Wine-Searcher’s Internet Wine Sales Top $5 Billion article is similar, but more analytical.

So here’s to bringing wine retailing in the 20th century – at least by the end of the 21st …



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2 thoughts on “Buying Wine Online

  1. val petran

    Can we buy any of your wines online, if not today, perhaps in the future ?

    A few months ago I wanted to send a gift to someone who lived in a foreign country thousands of miles away. I did not want to buy the gift locally and have it shipped, but rather, to find a business entity that was located in the same town as the intended recipient, pay that entity using paypal, and have them purchase an appropriate gift locally and deliver it. I wonder if that kind of model might work with wine. I could easily see myself, filling out a web form to purchase a bottle of wine from your organization, for example to have it delivered to my friend M. O. who happens to live in Washington state.

  2. Erroll Post author

    Hi Val,

    My winemaking is strictly a hobby, so nothing available for sale here.

    There’s been a lot of progress in liberalizing purchase and shipping of wine, but it’s still varies by state. Free The Grapes has been working, one state legislature at a time, to improve things. They have a color coded map of the US that shows which states allow direct shipment, and Washington state does – so you and your friend are in luck!

    I understand that online sales of wine are more common in Europe than in the US, so it may be easier to arrange there.

    Erroll

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