Finding and collecting wine through the Internet

Wayne On Wine
By Wayne Crawford

  wayne crawford
  Wayne Crawford

We end another wine enthusiast year in an admirable position. Americans are drinking more wine than ever before; in fact, 45 percent of adults 21-plus drink wine. The U.S. leads the world in total, though not individual, wine consumption.

The Wine Market Council reported 295 million cases of wine were consumed by Americans in 2012, and 11 million Americans drink wine every day. James Thornton’s new book, “American Wine Economics,” describes the typical drinker as an “affluent, college-educated, middle-aged, married homeowner in a technical, professional or proprietary occupation and enjoys cultural events and participating in sports or exercise-related activities.” Women 30-plus prefer wine as their first choice in alcoholic drinks, and they consume more wine than men. Particularly interesting for Big Canoe is the fact that 12 percent of those drinking wine daily are 65-plus.

When asked what wines I recommend my answer is always, “Drink what you like, but seek out new varieties.” I believe wine is best enjoyed with good food, particularly when paired with regional dishes: Try zinfandel with grilled porterhouse steak or sangiovese with pasta.
Every state in the Union produces wine, and there are more than 23,000 grape-growers in the United States, giving us a remarkable number of choices to consider. Add in the rest of the wine producers in the world and the choices are almost limitless.

  mail-truck
  It is best to ship wine to Georgia from November to February to avoid high temperatures in delivery trucks. Photo courtesy of Google images
In the New Year, I suggest picking 10 new grape varieties to expand your horizons. For example, try a white viognier, a local wine from Georgia, hybrids seyval or traminette or a grenache from Spain. Each will provide a unique tasting experience.

The Internet has a few exceptional, free sites to help in the search for new wines and wine facts. Number one for locating wines is wine-searcher.com. This site helps compare prices, history of the wine and tasting notes. It also has a professional site that can be subscribed to for enhanced access to wine information and price comparison.

Winefolly.com is a Seattle-based wine blog that won the 2013 International Wine Blogger of the Year award. This site is all about wine education with a fun and friendly delivery and wonderful, easy-to-follow charts. It is a must-read for anyone who enjoys wine and wants to enhance his knowledge. Information is presented in simple, clear terms at both basic and advanced levels. Free email updates that arrive three times a week are offered. Madeline Puckette is the lead scribe, but she has the support of a talented wine team traveling extensively to capture world wine trends.

In 2010, the American wine drinker spent, on average, $7.58 for a bottle of wine. This tells wine writers that to be relevant to a diverse wine public, research and focus on wines under $10 is needed. The wine site that best accomplishes this is winecurmudgeon.com. Jeff Siegel, a strong supporter of buying local wines and those less than $10, writes daily; his site also is available by email and, now, on Dallas TV.

  IGA
  "Supporting local wine stores—like the Foothills IGA, which now carries more than 1,800 wines—is a convenient and very practical first choice." Photo by Valerie Doll

Now that I have introduced a few wine sites to consider in your research, where should you go to buy wine? Supporting local wine stores—like the Foothills IGA, which now carries more than 1,800 wines—is a convenient and very practical first choice.

On the other hand, while traveling you may have uncovered a great wine that you would like to try again for a special occasion. Georgia wine law on the distribution and sale of wine restricts who can ship to Georgia. This includes out-of-state wine producers and selected retailers holding a Georgia special-order shipping license. The law also says they cannot ship more than 12 mixed cases of wine to one individual within a year.

If you want to buy direct from a winery, determine if it is licensed to ship to Georgia. If you are on one of the major wine retail sites, the same process is in play. One caution: I only ship wine to Georgia from November to the end of February due to the high temperatures in delivery trucks. Most wineries and retailers are glad to hold your wine until the weather is cool.

The dynamics of buying wine also have changed and are best tracked in the wine industry magazine, winesandvines.com. This source is earmarked specifically for trends in domestic wine sales, Direct-to-Consumer (DtC) shipments and the Winery Job Index. Unfortunately, you must subscribe to this magazine.

  Champagn
  Suggestions on New Year’s bubbly—Cava, Cremant and Champagne. Photo courtesy of Google images

If you enjoy the challenge of buying wines at exceptional prices that you might not otherwise have considered, “flash” sites are the new vogue. As the name implies, offerings come and go in a flash.

Essentially, these sites offer daily deals the buyer must react to on the same day on a first-come-first-served basis. The leading “flash” sites include: cinderellawine.com with TV and YouTube.com personality Gary Vaynerchuk; invino.com; lastbottlewines.com; lastcallwines.com; lot18.com; and others, like winestilsoldout.com.

I have used invino.com and lastbottlewines.com; both were highly responsive and the wines arrived within a week in November. Start by asking if they ship to Georgia … then give them a try. On average, I saved 20 to 30 percent on retail and, depending on the size of the order, shipping was either free or close to it—for four bottles, I paid 76 cents. A site like invino.com was developed by wine industry entrepreneurs who do a great job seeking out their portfolios of wines.

Visit winefolly.com to get suggestions on New Year’s bubbly—Cava, Cremant and Champagne.

In my next article, the focus is on sparkling wines.

Wayne Crawford is a certified specialist of Wine CSW and a member of the Society of Wine Educators and the American Wine Society.

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