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How To Buy Wine Online Step 1: Make sure you’re in a state where you can receive wine shipments through the mail! For most states this is an all or nothing proposition, but there are a few states that will allow intrastate shipments but not shipments from other states, or even where the rules are different by region within a state. The Wine Institute has lots of helpful information here. Luckily the list of states that allow wine shipments continues to grow. With longtime holdout Pennsylvania now joining the revolution the count of states that allow at least some form of shipments (usually those direct from a winery but not necessarily retailers) is up to 44, covering about 90% of the U.S. population.order wine 1Looking For a Deal In this case, you’re not so much concerned with the varietal or the vintage, you’re just trying to score some great wine at a great price. If this is you then you’ll definitely want to check out the “flash” wine sites as well as wine clubs like Club W or NakedWines.com. (P.S. New sign-ups get discounts through these affiliate links!) It may take a bit of waiting to find the right deal, but these sites typically buy large amounts of a given wine at special pricing passing on at least a portion of that discount to you.order wine 2I’m admittedly a difficult customer, being a slightly delusional wine lover/collector, someone without deep pockets but who favors older, mostly European wines. Not being a hedge-fund manager, I can’t touch superstars from the classic regions, but sometimes the wines of slightly less-renowned producers, especially in underrated vintages, can be great values, especially when you’re guided by a good adviser. Once we do begin to connect, I might ask how he or she got into the business, if there was a pivotal “wine moment” (there often is), try to see if I’ll be able to rely on her for advice in the future. Once I chatted for nearly a half an hour with a nice fellow (I never got his name) at the Rare Wine Co. about the differences in style between Conterno and Borgogno Barolos, then about respective trips we’d made to Italy. And while I’m sure I’ve been thought a nuisance or even a bit creepy, I’ve almost always found the person on the other end to be more passionate about her work than she has to be, maybe even a touch messianic; someone who’d much rather drink good wine and share notions about its glories than merely sell it.order wine 3garagiste.com Founded by globe-trotting wine expert Jon Rimmerman more than 18 years ago, Garagiste bills itself as “the original email offer wine company” and operates on a model now copied by many retailers. Daily offers are sent out to members of the mailing list, and customers order bottles to be held until one of the site’s two yearly shipping dates. The site does no advertising, instead relying on word of mouth and the strength of Rimmerman’s narrative descriptions to sell its wines, all of which are sourced directly from wineries and many of which are priced under $15. Garagiste is the benchmark retailer for organic and natural wines, the “indie label of the wine trade,” as it’s been called.order wine 4Garagiste garagiste.com Founded by globe-trotting wine expert Jon Rimmerman more than 18 years ago, Garagiste bills itself as “the original email offer wine company” and operates on a model now copied by many retailers. Daily offers are sent out to members of the mailing list, and customers order bottles to be held until one of the site’s two yearly shipping dates. The site does no advertising, instead relying on word of mouth and the strength of Rimmerman’s narrative descriptions to sell its wines, all of which are sourced directly from wineries and many of which are priced under $15. Garagiste is the benchmark retailer for organic and natural wines, the “indie label of the wine trade,” as it’s been called.order wine 5California Wine Merchants cawinemerchants.com Founded by Sherry-Lehmann vets Taylor Senatore and Jennifer DiDomizio, California Wine Merchants was meant to fill an obvious gap: the lack of small-production domestic wines in the Europe-centric New York market. Now the site is the place to go for eclectic and under-the-radar wines from the West Coast, and it has a great track record for discovering talent. (It stocked bottles from star winemaker Steve Matthiasson long before he became a Food & Wine Winemaker of the Year in 2012.) For a sense of the shop’s palate and ethos, try the wines from Chris Brockway of Broc Cellars. His fantastic, unusual bottlings include wines made from obscure grapes like Valdiguié.order wine 6Hospitality is, ultimately, about making someone happy. If restaurants can get behind making people feel that they’re not going to get taken advantage of, and if trying and buying wine is a you-can’t-fuck-it-up transaction—a we-want-you-to-be-happy thing—then people will really lower their guard when they’re talking about wine. Right now, everyone still thinks they’re getting fucked when it comes to wine. That’s a problem on both sides of the table.order wine 7franklywines.com Before she opened her New York City store, Christy Frank spent about seven years working for Moët Hennessy USA, most recently managing the company’s Australia and New Zealand portfolio. Part of her job was to crisscross the country, visiting more wine shops than she cared to count—which meant when she finally opened her own, Frank knew exactly what to do. With wine descriptions that are quirky, accessible and fun to read, her website offers great browsing. Try the Smallfry Joven Barossa Valley, a Tempranillo-based blend that will surprise anyone who thinks Australian wines are all big, jammy Shirazes. Frank loves the wine for its red fruits, autumn-like spice and fresh acidity. “After visiting the beautiful, biodynamically farmed vineyard where the grapes are grown,” she says, “I love it even more.”order wine 8Yet sometimes, I simply can’t deal. Maybe I’ve been writing all day, and my head feels as though it’s been pummeled, and I can’t quite bear someone hovering. Or an unfamiliar salesperson will descend and push a wine because it just received “a monster Parker rating.” Or, perhaps worst of all, a normally trusty staffer will excitedly suggest a bottle, and when I taste it, I’m sorely disappointed; I’ll be loath to go back and have an awkward, fitful conversation, its implication being, “No offense, but I despised that wine you dearly love.” Things can quickly get too personal, especially in matters of taste. I enjoy delicate, mature wines exponentially more than their youthful, exuberant versions, and online retailers tend to have a wider selection of older wine, while most brick- and-mortar shops only have enough room to carry the latest vintages.order wine 9So I’ll sit at my desk and search. I’ll click around the Web for the best price and a clue to the quality of the retailer’s storage facilities, wondering whether the real-life operations are as tech-cool or retro-dusty as their sites. I enjoy browsing the nerdier ones, like North Berkeley Wine and the Rare Wine Co., which provide their own blogs or even photos of staffers’ tasting trips, essentially offering a wider experience of what it means to engage with a wine.order wine 10And though it seems impossible that one could ever locate a particular wine here, Joe can blindly reach behind roughly piled boxes of Rhônes and Rieslings and know he’ll grab a zesty, minerally Leflaive Mâcon-Verzé he’s been wanting me to try, which he opens for us now. Joe’s partner, Alex Gelleri, and the rest of the Mission gang (all of two) take a break and come by for a taste, as does Charlie, the cheery warehouse landlord, who (blond hair aside) looks and sounds just like Leo Gorcey of the Bowery Boys and is soon waxing poetic on the mystical qualities of a 19th-century Bual he’d bought from Joe. Our talk centers on the wine in the glass but is not limited by it, as we’re laughing as much as swirling, joking about politics, the pratfalls of middle age, raising kids. And I’m reminded that this is the ultimate reason you buy any wine, virtually or not: The truth is, you want to get up from your seat, venture beyond the screen, whether via telephone or in person. For you should, in fact, go there. And maybe really click.order wine 11Despite years of shopping for wine on the internet, I still can’t quite get used to the idea. Wine, after all, isn’t like a book or CD. Holding a bottle, inspecting its label—you just can’t replicate that experience inside a browser window. Yet I do most of my wine buying online. Why?order wine 12Courtesy of Frankly Wines Frankly Wines franklywines.com Before she opened her New York City store, Christy Frank spent about seven years working for Moët Hennessy USA, most recently managing the company’s Australia and New Zealand portfolio. Part of her job was to crisscross the country, visiting more wine shops than she cared to count—which meant when she finally opened her own, Frank knew exactly what to do. With wine descriptions that are quirky, accessible and fun to read, her website offers great browsing. Try the Smallfry Joven Barossa Valley, a Tempranillo-based blend that will surprise anyone who thinks Australian wines are all big, jammy Shirazes. Frank loves the wine for its red fruits, autumn-like spice and fresh acidity. “After visiting the beautiful, biodynamically farmed vineyard where the grapes are grown,” she says, “I love it even more.”

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