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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

How to Locate Difficult to Find Wines

We’ve all been there---tasted an older vintage wine that we’ve admired but none of our local wine stores have that particular year.   Or, we’ve tried some relatively unknown wine that we’ve “gotta have” but it’s nowhere to be found in town.   There’s a quick and easy solution:  online!   Over the years, there are very few wines (if any) that I couldn’t locate with a few key strokes.

We live on a hill, which until recently, had only two houses on it.  Both homes on the street are in the wine business so UPS and FedEx know this street well.  It’s rare that a week passes in which one of these companies doesn’t deliver wine to one of our homes.  My husband is on a first name basis with the delivery drivers.  We consider ourselves veterans of online wine purchases. 

Ordering online has some real advantages.  The first is obvious for those difficult to find wines----simply locating them.  The second is the price which is often lower than many of the local retail shops.  For pricey wines there’s another economic advantage in ordering from an out of state company:  no tax.  Yes, there is a shipping fee (about $3 a bottle for a case), but the shipping fee is canceled by the tax savings on expensive bottles.

Online wine sales also have some disadvantages.  If you need a wine quickly, buying it on the internet won’t work unless you want to be held hostage for a “rush” delivery fee which is often $20 per bottle.   If you can wait for 5-6 days, you’ll be fine for most online suppliers.  Weather also can be a detriment.  If you’re spending some big bucks in the height of the summer, an internet sale probably isn’t a good idea as 100 degree temperatures are bad for any wine.

Below are some tips for ordering online:
  1. Make sure you check the box for no vintage substitution.
  2. Consider the weather.  If there’s a heat wave, delay shipping.  Regardless, leave directions in the comments box to ship only on a Monday (wine should not be sitting over the weekend in some non-airconditioned wharehouse).
  3. Ask to be removed from any email promotions so that you’re not bombarded with SPAM.

     Here are my 3 favorite websites for ordering online:
  •  I really like this one as it lists the availability by price throughout the US.
  •   Same as above, but this site lists many of the critics ratings so you can see how the wine stacks up among the experts.
  •   Listed by price, location and critics ratings.

My favorite retailer, which has a website, is K & L Wine Merchant.  There's only one problem as its located in California, which means you'll be paying tax.

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