Shopping For Wine – Part Two

Mo Wine Please

Online Wine Shopping

Thanks to the power of the internet and the plethora of sites dedicated to wine, the selection of wines available online is extensive. Whether for yourself or as a gift for a lucky friend, purchasing wine online is easy. For most of us.

Unfortunately not all of you can take advantage of this bounty. Oh, you can BUY the wine, you just can’t have it shipped to you because your state is one of those guided by a) very strong retail wine lobbyists who want to protect their own sales or b) lawmakers who are stick-in-the-mud kill-joys.

In addition to the straight prohibition in some states, there are certain “dry “ zip codes in Alaska, Florida, Idaho and New Hampshire. And shipments to New York cannot include both food and wine.

Some online wine distributors are able to “work around the rules” to deliver wine to states that other sites can’t.

Confusing enough for you?

Perhaps you should write a letter to your elected officials to assert your unalienable right to life, liberty and a glass of vino.

Until the time that we are one America, united against discrimination toward wine lovers, my best advice is check each site’s shipping policy. You might be able to access a loophole.

ONLINE WINE STORES

Google the word “wine” and you will find lots of websites dedicated to selling wine. Some are the online equivalent of big box liquor stores, some specialize in the unusual or hard to find and some cater to high-end clientele.

These sites often have sales on featured wines or offer free shipping with the purchase of a certain number of bottles. You can sign up for email notifications that will keep you informed about these specials. We have set up a separate Gmail account just for wine related things so the messages don’t get lost among our day-to-day emails.

wineexpress emil

Here are a few online wine stores to consider:

Wine Express  – this is the online wine site associated with Wine Enthusiast Magazine.  They cannot ship to Alaska, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Texas and Utah.

Wine.com  – Bills itself as the #1 rated online wine store. Cannot ship to Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Oklahoma, Utah and some zip codes in Alaska.

Sherry-Lehmann  – A New York City wine store that will ship to all states except Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Washington State.

WINE CLUBS

Many wineries have clubs that ship wine to members on a periodic basis. In many cases there are different levels of membership that allow you to decide how many bottle you will receive and allow you to choose between reds, whites or a combination.  If you have visited a winery you like or have found a label in your local store that you really, really like, you can check their website to see if they offer a wine club. An added bonus: many wineries offer special wines or small production bottles to wine club members only. These are loyalty programs, after all, and the wineries want to treat you right!

There are some “consolidator” online wine clubs as well. We belong to one of these, Bounty Hunter, which you will read more about later.  The companies put together a collection of wines from different wineries and often from different regions of the world to give you a little taste of everything. These are excellent for those who are interested in learning about and exploring the wide world of wine.

Some examples of these types of clubs are:

Zagat Wine  – Twelve wines delivered every three months.

The California Wine Club  – Choose from among five different club levels.

The Original and Only Wine of the Month Club – Receive two bottles each month.

Again, you should confirm that the wine club can ship to your state before you get your heart set on joining.

BOUNTY HUNTER RARE WINES

Do you remember in Shopping For Wine – Part One, when I said that a small, local wine store is great especially if you develop enough of a relationship to have your own “guy”?

Well we have “a guy” at Bounty Hunter. It is both wonderful and very, very dangerous.

Bounty Hunter has a retail wine shop (located in downtown Napa, California), online and catalog sales and wine club options. These folks do it all.

Bounty Hunter Catalog

They pride themselves in searching the world for the best wines at every imaginable price point.  The catalog contains detailed descriptions of the available wines often including the back-story on the winery or the winemaker. These stories can give great insight into the wine and make the wine drinker feel more connected to the winemaker.

Bounty Hunter offers nine different clubs that ship wine on a monthly basis and three that ship quarterly. Their “Most Wanted Club” includes twelve of the best of the best bottles shipped quarterly. Some of the selections are from extremely limited productions, as little as 15 cases produced. Very rare, very special.

But the fine and talented folks at Bounty Hunter know that there is nothing better than finding a world-class wine at a supermarket price. Every quarter their catalog includes a page of these “Steals and Deals”. This quarter’s selection featured a dozen wines ranging from a 2012 Streamside Chardonnay from Napa Valley ($16.95) to a 2010 La Fleur d’Amelie Bordeaux from France ($13.95).

Bounty Hunter offers a special deal: buy all twelve for $174.95 and shipping is free. That averages out at  $14.58 per bottle, a bargain price for this hand-selected collection. It’s the perfect way, for a relatively small investment, to expose your palate to a vast array of wines.

WHEN THE WINE IS DELIVERED

Whether it comes via UPS or FedEx, any package containing “adult beverages” will have to be signed for by someone over the age of 21. The drivers are required to get a signature in person; they will not leave a slip for you to sign to authorize delivery in your absence. Nope. No can do.

If you live in a high-rise condo with a doorman or if you are home all day, every day, you are all set.  Otherwise, after several attempts, UPS or FedEx will take your precious cargo back to their warehouse to await your arrival to claim it. These warehouses are often a pain to get to, have limited hours and, with a lack of climate control, are not good places for your wine to hang out.

Our solution: rent a box at the UPS Store.  Wine gets shipped to the UPS Store, they send us an email when a package arrives and we go pick it up. Easy, efficient and safe for the wine.

We belong to a few wine clubs…ok, twelve.

At certain times of the year we seem to get a lot of shipments at the same time. It was during one of those weeks, when I made an appearance at the UPS Store four out of five days to pick up wine shipments, that the UPS guy asked me, “Just how many wine clubs DO you belong to.”

Judgmental smackdown.  Ha, I think he was just jealous.

Do you have a favorite place to buy wine online? Do you live in one of the tricky states and have found a way around the pesky laws? I’d love to hear about it!

(By the way, this is not a paid endorsement. Just me, sharing information with you.)

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Thanks for stopping by!

Comments

  1. What is your favorite wine club? I’ve been thinking of joining but the being home all day thing was an issue. I like the UPS store idea!

  2. If we could only pick one, I think we would choose one of the Bounty Hunter clubs because they do such a great job of finding some really interesting selections. And for anyone who loves wine, their catalog is fun and fascinating.

  3. i am bookmarking this site. great resources mo!!

  4. I truly expected my state to be on the list of states that you can’t ship wine to. They just tend to be weird like that. And yet, it wasn’t! In that case, I might just have to look into a wine club. In the meantime though, you have me jonesing for a glass of wine!

    • I was really surprised at how different the lists of restrictions were. Just crazy. Glad your state in is the clear! Enjoy your glass of wine. Cheers!

  5. I never thought about getting wine via online-something to
    consider. I don’t see Illinois on here so far 🙂

    • As I recall, there was some talk of banning wine shipments into Illinois a couple of years ago but enough people spoke up and the issue went away, Phew!

  6. Ooooh, I don’t think I’ve ever done a wine delivery, but I’m happy to see that North Carolina doesn’t seem to be on any of the no-deliver lists. Whew. Finally something we hillbillies got right.

    I hooted at “Just how many wine clubs DO you belong to?” Yep, jealous!! Hahahahahahaha –Lisa

  7. this is awesome! so much great information. we get that bounty hunter catalog and like you said, awesome for finding great deals on great wine. we live one of those pesky states and have trouble getting wine delivered. but my husband seems to have found a loophole, so we’ve been enjoying some really nice napa stuff that we can’t find in our local wine shops. 🙂

    • I think Bounty Hunter does a great job of hitting all price points – something for everyone! If you ever visit Napa you should go to their shop and restaurant. They offer an awesome array of wines by the glass and some of the best barbecue food you have ever had! I’m glad your husband found a loophole! SHHHHHH!

  8. Lots of awesome tips here, thanks so much for sharing them with us at WDW! I’ll have to look into a wine club- sounds perfect to me! 🙂

  9. This is awesome!! I love the idea of getting hand picked wines and trying new things! And Connecticut doesn’t seem to be on the cannot ship to lists! Yippee!

    • I was surprised that Connecticut wasn’t on the list because I’ve read all about the struggles and constantly changing rules in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Seems you are surrounded by crazy states but little ole Connecticut is quietly enjoying wine shipped in from anywhere! Score!

  10. My wine knowledge is woefully inadequate. I never thought about a wine club as a means of introduction. Great idea!

    • Bounty Hunter, in particular, provides great information about the wines and some of the background story of the winery. We have learned a lot. But the beauty is you can take in as much or as little knowledge as you want all while enjoying great, handpicked wine!

  11. Great information; thank you! I have always wondered about buying wine online, but I really enjoy strolling through the stores and looking at all the neat labels… now that I know a little more about where to begin online wine shopping, maybe I’ll start converting to door delivery! 😉 Here from Sharefest, by the way!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Tonya! I also love looking at the labels and seeing the clever names people come up with. Online wine shopping is also great if you are looking for a special gift for someone who doesn’t live nearby.

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