In February, Berry Bros. & Rudd, the 300-year-old vintner and wine retailer to the Queen, announced a staggering £25 million in internet sales of wine for 2011. That is a 72% increase over online sales in 2010.
With that much money being exchanged online for wine, you could mistakenly assume that no one is going out to buy it any more.
Buying online offers the advantage of large selection of interesting wines, available 24/7 with out having to travel to the store. The wine is delivered straight to your home, saving money and strain on your back.
But how do you take that first step from familiar grocery to online retailer?
1. Start with reputable retailer.
2. Look at customer reviews of the wine. Most sites offer these along with pictures, ratings and reviews by the press.
3. Attend a tasting. The companies website should list the date and location of upcoming tastings.
4. Call someone. The best companies have wine experts that are ready to help you find what you want at the price you want to pay. If there isn’t a case deal available most of them can create something for you.
Online stunners – Vintage Roots (www.vintageroots.co.uk), a completely organic and biodynamic importer, offers the Jean Bousquet Malbec 2010 (Decanter GOLD last year - fantatsic value £8.75).
Tanners Claret (www.tanners-wines.co.uk) is the one not to miss. At £7.50 a bottle it has sold thousands and is ready to drink as soon as it comes to your door.
The Oxford Wine Company (www.oxfordwine.co.uk) has their winter special 12 mixed bottle case for £60 or even more interesting Theo’s fine wine 6 bottle mixed case, which is a bit pricey at £119, but does contain one of my absolute favourite wines, the Turk Gruner Veltliner 2009.
Berry Bros. & Rudd (www.bbr.com) has almost too much selection. I’m very happy with a case of their Extra Ordinary Claret for £135.60, but if that’s a bit steep, try a mix of their Good Ordinary Claret and White, at £8.75 and £7.65 a bottle respectively.
Virgin Wines (www.virginwines.co.uk) has the Black Pig Single Vineyard Clare Valley Shiraz 2010 a huge, rich wine at only £10.99.
Before ordering, make sure you have a secure place for the case to be left. “You can’t leave wine lying around.” Says Alison Chadwick from Tanners.
Oxonians will have an opportunity to taste those internet wines at a tasting, hosted by Virgin Wines, Thursday night, 15th March 2012, 6-8:30pm, at Oxford Town Hall, St. Aldate’s, Oxford, OX1 1BX. Tickets are £10 a person at www.virginwines.co.uk/oxfordtasting. If you place an order that day, they will take the price of the ticket off the total price of that order. It’s a first come first serve basis and tickets are expected to sell out. I am looking forward to meeting the winemaker of de Martino wines, one of the oldest and the first Carbon Neutral Winery in South America.
*Kudos to the Oxford Wine Company for winning the Independent Wine Retailer of the Year from the Drinks Retailing Awards. This trophy will shine next to the two Top Merchant Awards from Harper’s Wine & Spirit in 2011 for Best Independent Wine Retail in the UK and Best Independent Wine Wholesaler in the UK. Congratulations, Ted, Theo and gang.