So you want to know the best place to buy wine online?
In today’s world of streamlined internet commerce, you can get almost anything delivered directly to your door. From a wine and cheese subscription box to a collectible California Cabernet Sauvignon. Often, it only takes a few clicks. That's great news for wine lovers who want access to thousands of wines at their fingertips. But where is the best place to buy wine online?
There are thousands of wine retailers online. They are competing for your attention and offer no shortage of “lowest price” guarantees. Getting wine delivered, on the other hand, can be wildly expensive. This usually depends on its point of origin. Also, you may run into shipping restrictions based on the state you are shipping the wine to. Fortunately, these state-based restrictions are starting to go away. Still, you need to consider it when shopping for wine on the internet.
Just a small amount of complexity can make selling wine online a hassle. In fact, retail behemoth Amazon scrapped its still nascent plans to enter the world of wine sales because of wine shipping laws. Some wine consumers are left feeling that the compliance and shipping nightmare makes it more practical and cost-effective to purchase your wines from your local shop.
Should You Bother Shopping For Wine Online?
The short answer is yes. Online wine shopping is at its absolute best when you are hunting for smaller production, harder to find wines. The internet wine stores almost always beat the big box stores or the local liquor store in these cases.
Obscure cult wines, older vintages, rarities and, locally unavailable producers; this is where the internet and the wine world intersect to provide you the opportunity to get your hands on wines that you wouldn’t be otherwise able to obtain!
The Best Places To Buy Wine Online
There are so many wine shopping options online, that you need to go in with a game plan. Are you hunting for obscure wines from little know regions, do you need a bottle of wine in your hand later that day, or are you just trying to buy a discounted case of wine?
Each of the options on our list of "the best places to buy wine online" has a strength. For example, the Wine.com store has a wide range of wines, but may not be the best place to find truly obscure wines. Wine-searcher.com is great for finding obscure wines, but you will still have to pick through a list of stores and decide which one you want to order from.
You need to decide what you are looking for before you decide on the best online wine store for your needs. We hope our list internet wine shopping options will allow you to narrow down the choices and get that wine in your glass quickly and at a great price!
1. Wine Access
Wine Access is the perfect place to buy wine online if you want a curated wine list to choose from. The folks behind Wine Access hold advanced degrees in wine appreciation. More importantly, they have tasted thousands of wines over the years. You are getting the advantage of their trained palates when you buy from their online wine store.
The world's most inspired wines are made in limited quantities. Finding a place to buy these wines online is the hard part. That's where Wine Access comes in.
Their accredited wine team, which includes a Master Sommelier, tastes over 20,000 of the world's best wines every year to bring you the very best – wines typically reserved for industry insiders and Michelin-star restaurants.
Another nice feature of the Wine Access online store is the simple, yet powerful, system of categorizing wines. The store uses three characteristics of the wine to help online wine buyers focus in on the wine styles they enjoy. Some examples include:
Fresh - Fruity - Red
Fruity - Floral - White
Having these designations on each bottle sitting on their virtual shelves makes it easier for internet wine buyers like you. You can quickly filter out wine styles you don't enjoy. Imagine trying that in the wine aisle at the local supermarket! Here is a handy chart they provide to help you understand wine characteristics. You can use this in combination with their designations to find your perfect wine online.
Wine Access takes advantage of the internet to make online wine buying more enjoyable in others ways too.
One of our favorite features is the food pairing page. You can select the type of meal you are planning. Then, through the magic of their online wine store, you will see only wines that pair correctly with that meal. The combined expertise of the people selecting the wines in their virtual wine store and the simple yet powerful search capabilities makes this a top choice when buying wine online.
Want To Buy Wine Online? Click here to save on your next order from WineAccess.com
Winc is a hybrid wine club and online wine store. If you are someone who appreciates simplicity, Winc is the perfect place to buy wine online. They start you out with a palate test to establish which wine varietals and styles fit your taste. After that, Winc creates wine shipments for you each month. You can tell them how many bottles to include each time. This is a set it and forget it online wine shopping experience.
After you get your wine shipment and enjoy the wine, Winc encourages you to leave a review. This helps them determine which wines to include in your next shipment. You also have the ability to swap out bottles whenever you want.
There is a nice range of wines to choose from at the Winc online wine store. Wines are priced around $12 at the low end and go up to around $50. You can get some great values like their popular Summer Water.
You don't have to use Winc as a wine club either. You can just go shop for wine on their website. The interface is clean and easy to use. Winc's customer service is top-notch. They are quick to resolve problems and find you wines that make you happy!
Wine.com was an early player in the online wine game. Founded in Portland in 1998 as evineyards.com, the company went through a few changes before becoming the site we know today as wine.com.
There are some great reasons to count on wine.com as your go-to online wine source. First off, they have a large range of wine producers to pick from. You can buy everything from cult wines like Scarecrow to everyday table wine's from producers like Cupcake. You can also buy from a wide range of boutique wine producers on the site. It's pretty convenient to be able to fill the same online wine cart with a bottle of Dom Perignon and a bottle from a boutique winery like Hitching Post.
The navigation on wine.com is another reason this could be considered the best place to buy wine online. You can easily search the site for the wine varietal, wine region or special feature you want to buy. This speeds up the online wine buying process.
When you buy wine online, the wine shipping fees can be an issue. Wine.com offers a membership program called StewardShip that allows you to purchase wines without worrying about shipping costs. They also run specials wine shipping discounts on a regular basis.
Buying wine online really starts to make sense when you combine the variety of wines available, the convenience of wine delivered to your door and low shipping costs. For some of you, wine.com will be the best place to buy wine online.
Drizzly is an aggregator. They have access to the inventory of local beer, wine and liquor retailers in major cities. This allows them to offer faster delivery than many online wine stores. Some popular brands (or at least brands with large distribution deals) are available for same day delivery. This is a nice option when you want the convenience of home delivery, but don't want to wait a few days for your online wine purchase.
Ordering your wine, beer, and liquor all on one site is another bonus of using Drizzly. The wines available on the site run the gamut from supermarket standbys to legitimately boutique wines. The one drawback is the limited coverage. Drizzly is available in many major cities, but there are large parts of the country that aren't covered.
We wouldn't suggest this site for true wine aficionados. However, for an average wine lover, this site offers plenty of choices and is easy to use. That's why we consider this the best place to order wine online if you need that bottle now.
There are numerous resources out there to help connect you with wine retailers all over the world, but Wine Searcher (www.wine-searcher.com) is by far the most user-friendly and comprehensive of the group.
You can search for by region, style, grape, or year, but where Wine Searcher shines is in the ability to create hyper-specific searches, like trying to find 1982 Chateau Haut-Brion for example. While that gem generally sells for over $500 per bottle, the site works equally well in scouring the internet for retailers of small production domestic wines that don’t have the same brand recognition or broad distribution that producers of Grand Cru Bordeaux enjoy.
While Wine Searcher can’t guarantee that the wine you want is available from any specific retailer (it relies on the shop’s online inventory), it’s a great place to start if you know exactly what you want, but your usual retailer doesn’t carry it
6. K&L Wine Merchants
K&L Wine Merchants (www.klwines.com) is California wine institution, with several locations in and around San Francisco, plus an outpost in Hollywood.
K&L boasts an extremely broad selection from all over the world and very favorable pricing. Being located so close to California wine country gives them the opportunity to build close ties with producers, from the famous to the up-and-coming.
The real strength of K&L’s online wine game is in its exceptionally thorough real-time inventory. The system constantly accounts for every single bottle at four different locations. For selection and accurate wine inventory, K&L could be considered the best place to buy wine online.
7. Chambers St. Wines
If you’re searching specifically for hard-to-find organic, biodynamic, or natural wines, Chambers St. Wines (www.chambersstwines.com) is your source.
Located in New York since 2001, this shop has an easy to use site with wines from all over the world, all produced with an eye to terroir-driven simplicity and technique. It’s a natural wine nerd’s paradise online.
Anyone who wants to buy natural wines, or biodynamic wines, may consider this the best place to buy wine online.
8. Acker, Merrall & Condit
Blue chips. Top growths. Cult favorites. Whatever top shelf, impress-the-boss, WOW-worthy wine you’re looking for, you can find it here.
Not only is Acker, Merrall & Condit (www.ackerwines.com) the oldest wine merchant in the U.S., they also have access to the finest private collections on the planet because of their venerable reputation as an auction house for fine wines. It certainly isn’t the cheapest online retailer out there, but the breadth and scope of their cellar are truly amazing.
9. Last Bottle
While not a traditional online retailer, in that they don’t have a searchable database of available wines to sift through, Last Bottle (www.lastbottlewines.com) is a fantastic source for small production wines at a discount online.
Last Bottle is a deal-of-the-day site for wine, with members receiving regular emails with an offering, almost always at highly discounted pricing. Act fast though, Last Bottle works directly with smaller producers to source their wines, so popular items sell out fast.
As a bonus, if you buy the actual last bottle of an item, you get a credit to your account. Free shipping is generally available if you buy a handful of bottles. So if your focus is purchasing great small production wines at a discount, this is probably your best place to buy wine online.
10. Going Direct
Nowadays, many wineries rely on direct to consumer sales to bolster their bottom lines, so have made arrangements to ship all over the country. While the ability to ship into several states is limited or regulated, it’s becoming more and more frequent for wineries to employ compliance companies to help them maximize their ability to ship their wines without running afoul of the authorities.
Ordering direct is a great way to build a relationship with smaller producers, and most offer a discount off of retail pricing if you join their wine club, or purchase multiple bottles.
You can also buy from non-winery wine clubs. These clubs typically do the searching for you and then send you a monthly or quarterly box of wine. We've got a great list of the 20 best online wine clubs and subscriptions boxes. We also suggest you read this guide to selecting a wine club if you want to go this route for your online wine purchases.
What if my state doesn’t allow wine to be shipped in?
There are several states that don’t allow any alcohol to be shipped in. In these cases, you’ll need to find a retailer in your own state that ships wine and work with their site to find what you’re looking for. Wine Searcher is probably a great way to look for a reliable shipper if you don’t know the best retailers in your area.
Always look for a site with real-time inventory and clear shipping methods. Avoid fly by night sites that list ghost (out of stock) inventory and overcharge for shipping.
Do you have a favorite online retailer that helps you find your favorite wines? Let us know in the comments!