E-commerce wine

Wine e-commerce trended upward for several years. Then COVID lit the rocket. When final data is in, led by wine, alcohol e-commerce may have grown by more than 40% worldwide in 2020.

Currently, China is world’s biggest online wine market. Experts project the U.S. will overtake and roar past China in 2021.

The IWSR (IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, based in London), the most widely used source for beverage alcohol trends, predicts between 2019 and 2024 the alcohol e-commerce value in the U.S. will grow six fold, to nearly double China. In 20 nations IWSR studied, e-commerce alcohol sales will exceed $40 billion by 2024.

Obviously e-commerce is a trend across a sweeping range of consumer goods. Amazon is Godzilla because it is convenient to shop in your pajamas and have the product delivered to your door two days later.

For wine, e-commerce opens up the world. Sure, you can grab Robert Mondavi or Kendall Jackson or Barefoot wines at the grocery store while stocking up on toilet paper and Clorox wipes, but internet sales give you options unimaginable a few years ago.

There are major online sites—wine.com, vivino.com come immediately to mind—but direct access to wineries is a really big deal, especially for smaller, niche wineries. Two wholesalers dominate the alcohol market in the U.S. If you do not make a lot of wine, they do not return your phone call. They also will demand a significant slice of your price.

When wineries can sell directly to you, either through bottle buys on their website or through their wine clubs, they benefit and can survive. With tasting room sales devastated by COVID, that is how many low-volume, high-quality wineries, mom-and-pop producers, and artisanal winemakers carry on. Bravo. Buy online.

Tasting notes:

• Pedernales Cellars Texas GSM Mélange 2017: Admirable complexity with blend of red and black fruits, plus leather and smoke. All Texas fruit from significant Texas maker. $23-30 Link to my review

• Ehlers Estate Sylviane Rosé, St. Helena, Napa Valley 2019: Elegant, bold, not what you generally expect from a rosé. Definitely not a summer-only rosé. Enjoy any time of the year. $32 Link to my review

• Far Niente Chardonnay Napa Valley 2018: Rich, balanced, elegant, delicious. Wonderful fruit. $50-70 Link to my review

Last round: With COVID-19, I had to tell my suitcase there would be no vacation in wine country. Now I have to deal with emotional baggage.