Wine connoisseurs, collectors and enthusiasts alike are now heading online to shop for wine. The Wall Street Journal and other respected publications devote valuable editorial space to this trend, not just because there are so many online wine retailers to choose from but also because busy shoppers need all the help they can get to hone in on the best deals. Learn tips to shop effectively for wine online, whether your goal is to find discount wine online, score rare vintages or secure the perfect varietal for a special evenin
Check the Return and Substitution Policies
This is one area where inexperienced online wine shoppers frequently get tripped up. Some online retailers are religious about sending the exact varietal advertised, while others may permit themselves to send an in-kind substitution under certain circumstances (such as wines below a certain price point). If you want to be sure you are getting exactly what you paid for, shop online with retailers who do not substitute. Also, find out in advance if the retailer charges “restocking” or other return fees if you are not satisfied with your purchase.
Check for Size and Vintage
Especially when ordering discount or sale wine, carefully read the fine print before submitting your payment information. Sometimes you may assume you are getting a full bottle, only to find that you have a magnum or a half-bottle sitting on your doorstep when your order arrives. Similarly, be careful to check the year of the vintage you are ordering. Older vintages may have a price reduction as their “drink by” date gets closer.
Check for Hidden Minimums or Costs
Some online retailers may require you to order a minimum dollar value before they will even accept your order. Others may offer discounted wine prices but their shipping costs more than add back to your bottom line. What you are looking for is a wine retailer that charges fair prices with a variety of shipping options – including expedited shipping if your order must travel through particularly hot or cold climates before it arrives at your door.
Check Out the Website and Read a Few Newsletters First
Most online retailers offer a free email newsletter that describes specials, featured varietals and wine shopping tips. Before selecting an online retailer, take a look at how their site is organized, see whether you can create a profile and save your information, read a few of their free newsletters and then decide whether you want to begin a regular business relationship with that retailer.
Check for Delivery Options
Some wine retailers will only make deliveries to certain geographic regions. This may be because they are only licensed to do sell alcohol in certain areas or because they are trying to avoid paying for expensive licenses. If the retailer does not ship to your state and assume-full responsibility for shipments, seek another retailer to do business with.
These helpful hints can ensure your very first online wine order will be a positive (and tasty!) experience.
About the Author: Karlie Shepens loves to shop online. She particularly enjoys researching and purchasing wines online and she has made some great new finds this way.