Buying wine #1

Reviewing wine is vexing when your words appear in newspapers and the internet around the world.

What is the point of commenting on wine most people have no chance of buying either because of price or availability or both of those obstacles?

This week and next—strategies for finding and buying wine.

Strategy One: Local wine store. Depending on where you live, especially the size of your town, this is the slam-dunk, go-to option. A quality wine store is a precious jewel. When owners are wine aficionados, they steer you to wines that perfectly pander to your palate. They nudge you into unexpected adventures. Love them. Support them.

Sadly, such wine stores are not found on every street corner. The majority of us only have options such as grocery and liquor stores where wine is a sideline and inventory and expertise are in short supply. Which leads us to…

Strategy Two: Online. As states adopt sensible wine sale laws, online purchase options become a valuable resource.

Major players include—which virtually invented the category—and Winefolly, Vivino, K&L Wines, Last Bottle, Bottlerocket, Amazon Wine. If you Google “online wine retailers” you get more than 53 million results. Find links to sites below.

Convenience and selection are clear benefits. So too, search engines that help you find palate-pleasing pleasures. Not as friendly or personal as the human being at the good wine store, but far more knowledgeable and with vastly greater resources than the supermarket shelf stocker just hired out of high school.

Related, but not quite the same, are wine clubs sites such as Firstleaf, Amazing Clubs, WSJwine (Wall Street Journal), Wine Insiders, Winc, Martha Stewart Wine Co, Cellars Wine Club. If you Google “wine club sites” you get more than 445 million results. Find links to sites below.

Wine clubs take the onus off you picking wines. You tell them what you like, they examine their inventory, the two of you sort it out. You don’t have to think or do much—they send you wine on a regular schedule. Opening the wine shipment, by the way, is like opening Christmas presents all year long.

Downside: you are likely to get second-tier wines, especially second bottlings labeled specifically for the wine club. Not bad wine, but not often magical wine.

Last round: It is not hoarding if it is wine. It is collecting. And if you have an expensive cellar, it is really sophisticated and you might be featured in a slick, high-end magazine.

Links to online wine stores: website
Wine Folly website
Vinvino website
KL Wines website
Last Bottle Wines website
Bottle Rocket website
Amazon website (navigate to wine department)

Links to wine club websites:

First Leaf website
Amazing Clubs website
WSJ Wine (Wall Street Journal) website
Wine Insiders website
Winc website
Martha Stewart Wine website
Cellars Wine Club website