A Real Happening App

 

 

Vivino.com,  now the most popular wine App, began simply as a resource tool and has evolved quickly into an all-purpose site.  

It caught my attention about 3 years ago as a clever, useful App that allows you to take a photo of a wine label and get instant feedback and reviews of that wine.

The App is free to download on the apple store, google play, and windows phone. Other sites now have a similar app but these guys started it.

Headed by a couple of techies from Denmark, Vivino is the brainchild of Heini Zachariassen who was joined by co-founder Theis Søndergaard in 2010. The Founding Fathers, as they call themselves, simply saw a need for making information readily available to wine consumers.

Et Voila Vivino! Or whatever they say in Copenhagen.

Vivino now employ 80 people and even have an office in San Francisco to help it deal with its over 18 million subscribers. Yes, 18 million!

As it fine-tunes its own direct wine sales department, Vivino offers wines no other site has. Many are from California, and it is now featuring the 2013 T-Vine Grenache, 2012 Elizabeth Spencer “GPS,” 2012 Seltzer Stags Leap Cabernet,  2012 Lateral Napa Red, and Marietta Cellars Arme.

Vivino is also the only website offering wines from the cult-like Alpha Omega and other hard-to-find wines such as Sbragia  Home Ranch Chardonnay.

Imports, when offered, are equally fascinating, such as a Pomerol, the 2010 Gombaude-Guillot, and the 2013 Ornellaia Serre Nuove.

You also know how many bottles remain for each wine offered and how much time is left before the deal is removed.

New wines are added daily.

As A Search Engine

In the early days,  it occasionally failed to deliver reviews of older vintages or under the radar wines.  But recently, it had reviews of every Cabernet, Pinot or French wine I could think of because it now elicits reviews from its members as well as published reviews from experts.

These reviews from members follow the Tripadvisor 5-star format, and some reviewers are then followed by other reviewers on Facebook.  Several subscribers, mainly sommeliers, have reviewed over 1,000 wines.

According to the Founders, its “users contribute ratings for millions of wines from around the globe, and collectively, this database makes up the largest wine library in the world.”

To make your decision-making easier in this social media world, Vivino now lists the top wines rated by subscribers in specific states. So you can see the top 25 wines from $20 to $40  from Texas or Mass. Washington State, or whatever state you live in.

But the list of lists continues with 11 Malbecs, 10 New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs or 2 California Syrahs. Or maybe that was two turtle doves.

Well, the point is these people like compiling lists.

Admittedly, I was intrigued by the top ten wines sold at Safeway and Whole Foods. Seriously, do people buy Opus One and Dom at a Safeway?  There’s also a top 100 wines list.

As an Online Merchant

Recently, Vivino ratcheted up its own list of wines for sale using a third party retailer for fulfillment.  This exciting development is spearheaded by Peter Ekman who judging from the selections, knows where to find excellent wines at good discounts. Shipping is normally free for 4 or 6 bottles and the discounts range from 25% to 60%.

These wines are offered through a local retailer, Vintage Berkeley which ships out of San Leandro.

A Crash Course in Flash Sales

Hold onto your hat or whatever may blow in the wind, because on Tuesday, July 19th, WTSO (Wines ‘til Sold Out) is conducting its day-long marathon for wines priced at $19.99.

The kick-off is 8:00 am, East Coast time. A new wine will be for sale every 15 minutes or sooner. 

 

To sweeten the deal, they are offering free shipping with no minimum purchases and they will store your purchases for free, should there be concerns about high temperatures.

You can follow the sales online at www.wtso.com, download the app, or use your twitter account for notifications.

So, are you ready for some Flash sales?

If you are a newbie at this, it can be a bit unnerving with the time pressure. But if curious, this could be like a crash course in flash sales. You can be a spectator or a player.

I’ve followed WTSO for about 4 years and reviewed its 1,359 offers over the last 10 months to get a feel for what might be up for sale. At $19.99, there were a few exceptional deals, most were decent enough, and there were some wines I wouldn’t want if they were given to me.

Overall, the best deals were wines from the Rhone Valley, off-brand Champagne, Tuscany, and Australia, along with Pinot Noir and Zins from California.

If you are game and ready to tune into to this upcoming marathon, we are happy to offer a little pre-game advice and pep talk along with a game plan. Go to

www.bestonlinewineshopping.com

 

 

Wine Clubs Without Commitments

Joining a Wine Club without any membership fee or contractual obligation is like dating without any commitment. In other words,  quite appealing. That is so long as you don’t waste your time and encounter bad experiences on your first date or wine purchase.

In addition to almost every online wine merchant that offers some kind of club, we also have wine clubs from major publications like the New York Times and big businesses like American Express offering special wine deals through a club.

As is true of all online wine purchases, the key points to consider are quality, discounts, and shipping costs. We have recently been reviewing the field and found two that offer special 15 bottle deals that you might want to check out. Each promise major discounts.

But the most attractive feature you want is to be able to enjoy the introductory offer, and then cancel your membership. 

First, and this blew me away is the wine club offer from Virgin America Airlines. The current offer is a 15 bottle collection of Dry Rose wines from around the world. The price is $79.99, plus any applicable taxes. So no shipping cost.

The deal is you have to fill out a lot of paperwork and become a member of The Club from Virgin Wines. If you continue, they will ship a case 4 times a year. But you can cancel at any time. There is a mention of a money back guarantee. You also can earn 3,000 Elevate Points for future flight purposes.

All Roses are from 2015, so nice and fresh. The selection is excellent. Their origin ranges from European regions to South Africa, New Zealand, California and Long Island. Yes, good wines are made there.The 3 extra Roses are from the cool Edna Valley and made by a top local winemaker.

The learning opportunities are intriguing because the Roses are made from a variety of grape varieties. So you can judge whether you prefer Pinot Noir, Syrah, Malbec, Sangiovese or a few blends.

If you like Rose, this is a fantastic deal.

www.virginwines.com

Secondly, The WSJ Wine Discovery Club has “Special  Introductory offers” that merit your attention.

Here’s the deal: 15 bottles for $69.99 plus $19.99 shipping, and any taxes. You can choose red, white, or a mixed selection of 15 bottles.  So, we are talking $6 a bottle.

On the plus side, you can cancel anytime and there is even a reference to refunds and money back guarantees.  

Here’s the Inside Story:  The wines are billed as “World Class” which of course is far from the truth. And the producers are said to be “Small Estates” which is open to debate. Expert tasting notes are included which really doesn’t sweeten the deal much.

Of the three  choices,  the collection of red wines is a slightly better deal than the wines. The Cabernet and Zin from California are good, and the Chianti, Aglianico, and Tempranillo are also from reliable producers.

The whites are good enough, if you prefer whites. The White Bordeaux, Ch. Le Coin, the Spanish Albarino and California Chardonnay are very good.

The mixed case includes most of the better reds and whites. So this is an excellent way to go if you like reds and whites equally.