Everything is being bought online these days. From mega-stores like Amazon.com to small businesses with very specialized products, almost anything can be bought online. So of course, wine is available from many many outlets on the Internet. Wine retailers, wineries, grey marketeers, etc… all hock their wines online to you and I in hopes of capturing their part of the global market. Interesting thing is most of these sites are supplemental to some sort of physical retail store. Only a couple are focused solely on Internet sales (Wine.com for instance).
With all this variety and competitiveness the market is certainly divine for wine lovers but there are a few simple things you should do to keep yourself from feeling asinine about the transaction. Here are some tips to make your online experience smooth and easy:
1. Do some research first. Go by ratings you know and trust. If you read Wine Spectator (which has an odd following of haters akin to Microsoft haters – simply hated because of their sheer dominance, but when looked at objectively there are some very useful elements) then you should go by that. Since the wine is site unseen you probably want to go with a recommendation from a source you trust. Vivi’s will certainly pass on the best info we have but a friend, a magazine, or even writing down what you tasted in a restuarant one night is the important first step.
2. Find it online at a competitive price. Since there are so many sources, a competitive price is easy to find. Easily the best tool for finding wine online is Wine-Searcher.com. Here is a fast interface to thousands of online wine retailers across the globe and almost no wine is out of reach. There is a search box on the Vivi’s sidebar to your right that is directly linked to that site. You can pick and choose which site you’d like to buy it from there. Check the security policies of your site of choice and make sure you’re comfortable with them.
3. Once you find the wine and the retailer to buy it from, protect yourself. Use a one-time use credit card number. Many credit cards offer this service so that you can create a random number, instead of inputing your card, and use that number to make a single purchase. After that purchase the number is no good so you’re protected. This is the best way to protect yourself since its about the only technology in the transaction under your control.
4. Ship the wine to your place of business. If you have the ability, this is a great help. It has two advantages – the wine doesn’t have to sit in front of your house (some lazy shipment drivers just drop it on the door step even though thats illegal) or get continually re-sent if you’re not home and there is always someone there to sign for it. This minimized the chance of damage during shipment. Most of the better wine retail places will also hold back you shipment as a service to make sure your wine doesn’t get ruined by weather (Summer shipments could be rough on a wine).
5. Store the wine for 24-48 hours before you enjoy. All the shake, rattle, and roll of the shipment will agitate the sediment in the wine and it actually affects the taste if you don’t let it settle for a while.
6. Crack open a bottle at your leisure and Enjoy the Wine Life!