Online Wine Websites by Category

Making Sense out of Wine Online Sellers: Step One

Because there is a confusing array of websites, each claiming to be the best, we have first of all divided the field into seven different types.

Secondly,  at our website: we provide an in-depth evaluation of the major sites within each category and offer our unbiased opinions on which ones are successful. And which ones are lagging behind or should be avoided.

The Seven Categories are:

Mega-Sites: One-stop shopping with around 10,000 wines listed. The average wine shop carries about 600 wines, btw. Marginal discounts, but numerous shipping options.

Flash Sales: Timed sales; heavy discounts. Some sites offer one wine daily, while others two or more. Whatever, there’s pressure to act before the deal disappears. Good shipping options on smaller orders of 4 or 6 bottles as well as case deals.

Hybrids: Combine store fronts & online sales. Kind of a safe haven. You can order online and then either have the wine shipped to you or pick the order up at one of the real stores. You gain a sense of security but the trade-off is price since discounts are rarely significant and shipping costs can add up.

Specialists: Limited focus on CA wines, Bordeaux, Champagne, etc. This is a big category, but generally each specialist is limited in the number of wines offered. There’s one that’s perfect if you prefer Oregon Pinot of Washington State Reds, and another for Loire Valley wines.

Sites for Collectors: Focus on Cult & Rare wines. We’re talking high-end, expensive; you need to do your homework if you want to play in this arena.

Winery Direct Sites: Wineries with special deals and no membership requirements. This is an exciting category that is sure to expand. Some offer special deals on holidays or will offer good stuff at a special price. A few will hold a special sale with a 1 cent shipping per case deal.

Sites for Clubs, Gifts & Samplers: Like personal shoppers.  Or, like highway robbers. Your pick! Several sites work hard to offer excellent membership deals or gift packs. Others want your money and will send you wines that aren’t worth half the price.

Author: robywine, norm roby

My career as a wine journalist/critic began in 1975 when my article about California Petite Sirah was published. My focus remained on California as I edited a monthly wine magazine and then moved on to The Wine Spectator in 1981. Over the following years, my column appeared under the banner of “Stormin’ Norman, and I also wrote articles about wine collectors and wine auctions. Without getting into a year by year bio, let me try to summarize here. During my time with The Spectator which I enjoyed immensely, I taught wine classes at a culinary school and at other venues in San Francisco. Before venturing into wine, teaching was my thing, English Lit and Rhetoric. After The Spectator I was the U.S. Contributor to Decanter Magazine, writing mostly about California, but also expanding into Washington State and Oregon. My Decanter years began in 1992 and after buying a summer home in France in 2000, I traveled throughout France and eventually published articles about St. Emilion, Castillon, Bergerac, Minervois, Roussillon, Luberon, Provence, and Alsace. Also, around 2000, my wife began working for Cousino-Macul in Chile, so we tasted and traveled our way through Chile and, of course, managed to fly over the Andes and explore and taste our way through Argentina. As travel lovers, we have also spent many interesting days visiting the wine regions of Spain, Italy, Portugal, Sicily, Greece, and New Zealand. And to come to a close, I was Director of a Charity Wine Auction for 20 years, 1992-2000 that benefitted a local hospital. That brought me in contact with wine collectors and to the auction scene. And finally, I co-authored a book, The Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine published by Alfred A. Knopf. It went through 4 editions and sold over 500.000 copies.

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