Is Amazon Primeday a Wine Day?

Surprise, Surprise! Amazon Primeday is on for July 10th

Amazon was previewing its wine selections and special packs over the weekend. An early Celebration.

And so I spent many hours over the weekend evaluating Amazon’s wine offers.

The Pitch: “Up to 40% off” on many selections

The Good News:

Many wines have special 1 cent shipping promotions

Over 8,000 wines and specials listed

And Amazon is the most trustworthy online presence

The Bad News:

The vast selection is vastly ordinary

The 1 cent shipping often applies only to case orders, 12 bottles

The best wines are NOT heavily discounted ( often less than 20%) and many are not discounted at all.

Many wines are mass-produced brands, starting with Barefoot, that are widely available

Overall, Amazon’s wine site has that supermarket feel to it which may be intentional.

It offers hundreds of made in America wines, but is weak when you look at French wines and South American wines.

It seems to be unloading many French wines from lousy vintages, such as 2011 and 2013.

The Detailed Update

Now that everyone is pumped for the special Amazon Prime Day on Monday the 10th, here are my thoughts.

Amazon has a large wine department. Not the biggest in the online world but close enough as the most recent listing of available wines exceeds 8,000.  Amazon is a little different from other online wine sellers because it loves to assemble wine packs of 2, 4, or 6 bottles. And toss in a few 12 bottle packs as well.

There seem to be more combinations of Game of Thrones wines (listed as the #1 best seller) than there are episodes of that show. The label art is quite detailed.

So that 9,000 wine items listed includes the various packs.

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 or Target with so many Barefoot wines and others found in most supermarkets and drugstores with a wine dept.

And yes, I check out the wine selection of every store visited. It is a habit.

And, yes I have tasted many Barefoot wines. NOT a habit, a duty.

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.

Apothic, Menage a Trois, Dark Horse, Smoking Loon, Pepperwood Grove,  Barefoot and a large number of other Gallo-owned brands may actually be cheaper at Rite-Aid, Safeway, Target and CVS.

Two of my favorite bargains, Columbia Crest Cabernet and Merlot, are cheaper at Costco and other outlets.

(Note to Amazon brass: you often get many negative reviews from your wine customers for this reason.)

As for small, family owned wineries, the choices are few. I did note that Brophy Clark wines are available as are a few from Hartwell, Peju, Anthem, Dry Creek Vineyard, Zaca Mesa, Qupe, Leeuwin from Australia, Ojai, and Chateau Diana.

All of Parducci brands are listed as are many Coppola wines. But both Parducci and Coppola which offer reliable wines are ramping up production in a big way and are widely available.

To summarize:

Shopping on Amazon Prime is appealing for three reasons: convenience, better pricing, and locating things not readily available from real stores.

When it comes to wine, Amazon scores big on convenience. Only convenience.

Best Tips:

First, check out the “Best Deals” by category.

Also, click on the 1¢ Shipping deals

And, go to the 20% off list and look for those items that are also part of the 1 cent shipping for the truly best deals on 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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