Amazon’s Wine Dept

Chances are good if you own a smartphone, have a credit card, and are over the age of thirteen, you are familiar with Amazon. And if you are among those who once enjoyed hanging out at bookstores, you may still be a bit resentful, but for most people, Amazon is the Mother of all online sellers.

So you will not be shocked to hear that Amazon has a large wine department. Not the biggest, but close enough as the most recent listing of available wines exceeds 9,000.  Amazon is a little different from other online wine sellers and Amazon loves to assemble wine packs of 2, 4, or 6 bottles. And toss in a few 12 bottle packs as well. So that 9,000 wine items listed includes these packs.

To digress, it is fascinating to hear Amazon label this category “wine packs” whereas the other sites prefer to label a selection of two or more wines as something curated. And the curation, if that’s a word, is almost always performed by experts curators.  

But Amazon is not without shame as many wine packs are grouped by producer, by region or by theme, as in wines to give to pacify the “Mad Housewife” or some other equally silly theme. Then there are wines sporting  the “Fifty Shades of Grey” theme. That’s pushing it.

That said, now let’s get back to the details. About two-thirds of the wines on Amazon are US in origin, mostly California, but Washington State (1,500) is well-represented as in New York (550). These last two states have earned the recognition, so bravo Amazon.  French wines offered hover around 1,000, and Italy shows up with 485 offerings.

Maybe my expectations were too high, but after the first few hours of checking it out, I felt like I was browsing the wine section at Rite­Aid with so many Barefoot wines and others found in most supermarkets and drugstores with a wine dept.

Amazon invites advertising, and it would appear that many of those wine packs feature wines from their advertisers. No problem with that; it is good business to punch up its featured brands and partners.

When you begin hunting for deals and discounts, Amazon surprisingly is not exactly a savvy wine shopper’s paradise.  In fact, as is often pointed out in their customer’s reviews, quite a few of the wines can be bought at better prices at grocery stores like Safeway and at Costco and similar stores. Cupcake, Layer Cake, Pacific Rim, Smoking Loon, Pepperwood Grove and Barefoot….and many other brands owned by Gallo may be cheaper at Rite-Aid, Safeway and CVS. (Note to Amazon brass: you often get as many negative reviews from your wine customers as 4 stars.)

When it comes to basic discounts, again Amazon pushes its mixed packs, offering 20% off on most of them. All told, there are about 165 “Deals,” many of them packed. But I could not find much to get excited about under that category. Not totally discouraged, I then clicked on  the category of “1 cent shipping,” Eureka! The mother lode. The Mother’s mother lode. If you have some leisure time, you can browse through about a 161 pages with about 4,000 listings.

Better yet, save yourself the time: there’s not much there of interest save for a few French wines.

Best Tip: go to the 20% off list and look for those items that are also part of the 1 cent shipping for the best deals on Amazon.

For more of our review of Amazon, go to: http://www.bestonlinewineshopping.com/amazon

 

 

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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