Amazon’s Alexa Opens Up

Cyber Monday is finally here.

And Amazon which may have invented it began working us into a frenzy on Saturday morning.

Well it is your baby, Amazon and you gave it the big initial push, so no problem with the early start.

So like every compulsive online shopper who has waited 365 days for this magic moment, I decided to take advantage of this early kick-off.

Moving quickly through household goods, electronics, and gadgets, I found my happy place located at the very bottom of a long list…”wine.”

Located immediately to the right was another familiar name, “Alexa.” It was an open invitation from Amazon to “Ask Alexa.” and it made me stop and think.

The choice staring at me was to devote hours and hours going over every wine, wine pack, wine combinations, and gifts, sorting them all by price and by reviews and then constantly referring back to my old notes or to…”Ask Alexa.”

With Alexa as a vast source of information, it was a no brainer. And my Cyber Monday report for www.bestonlinewineshopping.com could be wrapped up on Sunday. So here goes.

Me: Alexa, what are Amazon’s wine deals for Cyber Monday?

Alexa: ”There are individual bottles at 25% off if you buy 3,and 35% off for 6. There are many mixed packs at 25% off, as well as a list of wines that quality for one cent shipping.”

Me: Alexa, are there specific wines, packs and case samplers that you can recommended for my readers as great deals?

Alexa, After a longer than usual silence, “Nothing comes to mind…that is if I had a real mind.”

Me: Wow, that is a surprise. I’ve written earlier and noted that Amazon sells wines from Zaca Mesa, Dry Creek Vineyards, Moniker,Hedges and even that excellent sparkling wine from New Mexico, Gruet. Why so lukewarm in general?

Alexa: “If you were not so lazy and scrolled through the various lists of wines, you would detect a trend: Amazon is top-heavy in wines from big corporations, mega-companies, and large distributors. Zombie Chardonnay is not exactly a collector’s item. A few small wineries such as those mentioned are sprinkled in here and there.”

Me: Alexa, Really? If you can avoid the snarky tone, could you offer specific examples?

Alexa,  “Yes, easily.”

Me: Great, now she’s trying to be cute and I’m getting a little annoyed starting every question with her name.

Alexa: What is the deal with big wine companies, anyway?

Alexa: “First, most analysts estimate that about 50% of the total wine market is controlled by the ten largest wine companies. Several of them own or control over 100 wine brands. With such large portfolios, they have the power to distribute wines at every retail outlet and restaurant.”

Me: Alexa, and that is a problem, how?

Alexa: Today, there are 3, 975 wine producers in California and close to 9,000 wineries in North America. With ten companies dominating the marketplace, it is difficult for small, family owned wineries to compete for shelf space and survive. Online would be a perfect fit for small wineries.”

Me: Alexa, and why does Amazon prefer to work with large companies?

Alexa, “Smooth and timely delivery is possible mainly through a large company with a great distribution system.”

Me: Please go on.

Alexa: “Well, I probably shouldn’t let the cat out of the bag, even if I understood that expression, but the wines featured for Cyber Monday include a high percentage of brands owned or controlled by Gallo. You can go to www.gallo.com and click on “porfolio” for a full list. But here are some that are featured Cyber Monday on Amazon:

Barefoot, Louis Martini, “J”, Souverain, Columbia Winery, Alamo, Carnivor, Dark Horse, Edna Valley, Frei Brothers, Talbott, Red Rock, Ghost Pines, Whitehaven, William Hill, Orin Swift.”

Me: Erika, Gotcha! Orin Swift is a hot cult wine with a tremendous following.

Alexa: “Calm down! If you paid attention and read the news in The Wine Spectator and Wines & Vines, Gallo bought the Orin Swift brand and tiny tasting room for mega-millions last June.”

Me: Alexa: Sorry, I only read headlines and don’t have time for well-researched articles. It is super to have you do my homework, thanks. What about the wines from small  wineries, though?

Alexa: “The clever ones like your buddies at Dry Creek, Paul Dolan, and Zaca Mesa have agreed to handle shipping from their wineries.

And, Btw, any wines listed that are shipped from Modesto, are associated with Gallo. Modesto, as you should know, is Gallo’s home base.

From here on, please do your own homework. I’m now busy uploading information for the new echo dot.”

Light jazz music starts spontaneously in the background.

Me: She is so full of information and has such a cool voice.

But at times she can be such a nasty bot!

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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