Buying Wine Online

No one likes to stay at home. Let me rephrase that: no one likes to be told to stay at home. And staying at home all day makes many elements of everyday life nearly impossible. We have been told to act as if everyone we encounter has the virus and the best way to avoid contracting COVID19 is to avoid any contact with people.

For the most part, we have tried to do our part. Sure, my wife still goes to work every day but she gets a pass because she is a physician and these days their pedestal has been raised even higher (and deservedly so) given their “front line” status. (If only I could tell some of the stories that she has told me over the years, it would make Greys Anatomy look like Sesame Street.)

Still, we make it to the grocery store at least once a week (they claim that they have cleaned the shopping cart, but how sure can I be?), we try to get take out at least once or twice a week to help out our local restaurants, and yes, I have hit the wine shop to stock up on champagne (yes, I know I already have a bunch of bubbles, 252 bottles at last count, but we were out of our “house” champagne–that is an e-friggin-mergency in this house).

And of all the places that I’ve been to in the last couple of weeks, suspecting that everyone around me was harboring the crown virus, I was almost certain that if I were to come down with it, I would have acquired it at the liquor store. Why? Liquor stores just inherently feel dirty to me. They smell like the basement of a frat house, they are not necessarily “known” for their cleanliness, and, if you’re like me, you spend most of your time wondering if all the other customers are looking at you to somehow make themselves feel better about buying booze (“well, at least I’m not as bad as that guy!”).

Well, in the name of staying safe, but still being able to get your wine on, here are four solid choices to get wine delivered to your doorstep (this is of particular interest to those who live in Pennsylvania where residents of the Commonwealth have but one choice for where to purchase wine, the PLCB, the state-owned and run liquor stores, all of which have been closed).

My Favorite: Last Bottle

The skinny: Last Bottle is perhaps (?) the only remaining “true” flash sites where they have just one bottle for sale (at a substantial discount) until, ostensibly, someone buys the “Last Bottle” and then they move on to another wine.

Shipping: Last Bottle ships from two locations (one being Napa, where the offices are located) and shipping is free if you purchase a minimum number of bottles (usually 3-6 depending on the wine). Plan on it taking a week to get your wine. Like all of the sites here, there are still a few states on the “no ship list” so check with them about your state.

Customer Service: Last Bottle has outstanding customer service and they stand behind every bottle they sell. Just contact them if you have an issue and they will take care of you.

Additional Info: Today (April 2nd, 2020), starting at noon EDT (9:00 a.m. PDT), LAst Bottle is having a two-day Marathon Madness. There will be a slew of offers all day long, with some pretty crazy deals being offered. The offer will change fairly quickly (15 minutes or less depending on how fast it sells out), so while binge-watching Tiger King for the third time, have your laptop open and ready to order.

Caveat: If you do not already have an account with Last Bottle and you sign up using one of the links here, I will get a $30 credit and you will get $10 off your first order (which is better than a sharp stick in the eye!).

 

The Original: Wines Til Sold Out (WTSO)

The skinny: WTSO was the original flash wine seller, starting a dozen years or so ago in New Jersey. It has a fascinating story (at least to me) and is certainly an excellent choice. I have purchased a ton of wine from WTSO over the years.

Shipping: WTSO gets your wine out quickly and it usually arrives in under a week. They have five locations around the country, so it usually takes about three days to get your wine.

Customer Service: WTSO sets the standard with customer service. The last time I spoke with the owner, he mentioned that they refund close to a million dollars per year. Just call them up, let them know the problem, and they will take care of it immediately. It really is impressive.

Additional Info: Even though they still have one wine for sale til sold out, they also have additional wines for sale which you can mix and match as you choose. These wines are under the “Last Chance Wines” and “Premium Selection” headings on the website.

Caveat: Sadly, WTSO does not have any referral program (I get nothing for pointing you in their direction), but that is not why I am writing this article (although getting a credit is better than a sharp stick in the eye).

 

The Biggest: Wine.com

The skinny: Wine.com touts itself as the world’s largest wine retailer and there is no reason to doubt that–their selection is incredible. They used to have a flash site associated with the mother ship (Wine Shopper, in case you wanted to know), apparently to compete with WTSO, but that disappeared a few years ago.


Shipping:
 Shipping is not free at Wine.com unless you join their “StewardShip” program which is $49/year. Once you pay the fee, all shipping is covered, no matter how much you order.

Customer Service: I have not ordered a ton of wine from Wine.com, but they seem to have similar customer service to the others. If I remember correctly, they will ask you to send back unopened bottles.

Additional Info: I have to say, even for me, it’s a bit overwhelming, but if you know exactly what you want, this is the place to go. Prices seem to fall in line with the suggested retail prices, so if you are looking for a “killer deal” this is likely not the place.

Caveat: No referral program here either, so no skin off of my nose if you use them or not.

 

The New Kid on the Block: Invino.com

The skinny: Invino.com is a relative newcomer to the online market (and should not be confused with Vivino.com). They seem to have a model somewhere between Last Bottle and WTSO. They send out a daily feature wine, but there are a couple dozen other wines available to add to the order at any given time.

Shipping: Shipping is free on all orders of six or more bottles. Fairly straight-forward.

Customer Service: I have not ordered a single bottle from these folks, so I have no personal experience to report. Any attempt to do so would just be based on what they say on their website, which I am loathe to do.

Additional Info: It seems as though Invino.com has some of the same producers as I have seen on Last Bottle (at least the champagnes), so I wonder how my pals at LB feel about that….

Caveat: Yea! Invino.com has a referral program! Same deal as Last Bottle: sign up with one of the links here and you get $10 off your first order (and I get a $30 credit–that doesn’t seem “fair” but I’m not going to complain, that would be akin to a self-inflicted sharp stick to the eye).

About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
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2 Responses to Buying Wine Online

  1. lulu says:

    The good news about all this is that Houston appears to be staying relatively safe so though I may go crazy before it’s all over, it will be worth it if we stay healthy. Drink on!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ncenvoyage says:

    Don’t worry about your wine shop. The virus doesn’t like alcohol!

    Like

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