Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

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Noah C
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Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#1 Post by Noah C »

Hi everyone,

Wondering what the thoughts are on the board about wine discounting sites. There have been recent threads on WineSlash and WineSpies. WTSO is another one I've read about. I think these are also called Flash sites, though that might be a different thing. I'm honestly not sure.

I am still fairly early in my wine journey. Generally, I have an idea of regions and styles that I enjoy, but do not have enough the experience to always be seeking out specific bottles. Since I'm not looking for anything super specific, these sites seem ideal. And the prices are oftentimes well below retail.

But I wonder about the quality of these services. Are the bottles generally well stored? Is provenance a big issue (I'd doubt it given the low prices, but you never know...) How does the customer service tend to fare?

Would you recommend these types of sites? For those of you that would, or have used them in the past, are there are particular ones you would recommend? Ones to avoid?

Thanks!
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#2 Post by CJ Beazley »

Last Bottle and First Bottle (they’re kind of sister companies) are good solid discount online retailers. Not every offer is for everybody but sooner or later they will probably have an attractive offer for you.
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#3 Post by Jonathan Jaggers »

I've used Wineslash, WTSO, Winespies, and Lastbottle. Always when they have a known quantity for a good deal. Haven't had an issue with any of them. I don't buy in to the hype at all for any of their proprietary or NDA stuff or unknown quantities...in fact, I pretty much ignore their hyped-up text and notice that most of the time when they post a high score it ends up being from Suckling, so you have to know what you're buying to pull the trigger otherwise you might be let down.
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#4 Post by T. Williams »

I cherry pick on Last Bottle, sometimes there are good deals other times they are pushing overstocked garbage.
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#5 Post by Jason L. »

They're worth subscribing to if only to get a sense of where the price floor on certain brands really lies. I'd say that they provide great value during times of surplus or economic downturn, and they tend towards private labels and inflated prose and retail during times of shorter supply.
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#6 Post by Carter Pelham »

I will echo the general consensus above about not buying into the hype, not going for vague mystery offers and NDA wines... but I would have no hesitation buying known products that you want from them when at attractive prices.

LastBottle and FirstBottle, Garagiste, have all in MY experience had good customer service and bottles have been delivered at or above my expectations even for back-vintage wines. In fact the majority of offers I actually buy on LastBottle and Garagiste are back-vintage offers.

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#7 Post by Joseph Grassa »

I have had many good experiences with WTSO and a decent amount with Last Bottle and First Bottle. None that were really anything to complain about.

I think the key is being able to ignore the massive amounts of hype they put on nearly every bottle, mostly undeserved hype. They are also overly aggressive in keeping your attention on their sites. From my experience WTSO has had a ton of hidden gems though and occasionally some more benchmark wines at good prices too.
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#8 Post by John Glas »

T. Williams wrote: February 10th, 2022, 2:03 pm I cherry pick on Last Bottle, sometimes there are good deals other times they are pushing overstocked garbage.
So true. In a three week span I didn't think of buying anything. It sounds like they were better years ago. They seem to advertise all the good lots that sold out on their site.

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#9 Post by Nathan Smyth »

Purchasing online can be an extremely effective method of turning a $20 bottle of wine into a $40 bottle of wine, via the magic of Shipping & Handling.

Maybe if you lived somewhere like Antarctica, you'd be forced to order all of your wine online, but unless the bottle were roughly $100+, shipping it would not generally be a sound* financial decision.

If you've got one or two decent retailers within a 15 or 20 mile drive, then you'd save a ton of money purchasing from them, rather than ponying up all that dough for S&H.

Finally, be especially leery of online merchants which are using S&H as a profit driver [rather than as a loss leader].

*My guess is that many [most?] people on this board don't make sound decisions when purchasing wine, but at some point [if they're not trust fund babies] they will have to come to terms with their own impetuousness.

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#10 Post by Dale Williams »

Nathan Smyth wrote: February 10th, 2022, 7:28 pm Purchasing online can be an extremely effective method of turning a $20 bottle of wine into a $40 bottle of wine, via the magic of Shipping & Handling.

Maybe if you lived somewhere like Antarctica, you'd be forced to order all of your wine online, but unless the bottle were roughly $100+, shipping it would not generally be a sound* financial decision.

If you've got one or two decent retailers within a 15 or 20 mile drive, then you'd save a ton of money purchasing from them, rather than ponying up all that dough for S&H.

Finally, be especially leery of online merchants which are using S&H as a profit driver [rather than as a loss leader].

*My guess is that many [most?] people on this board don't make sound decisions when purchasing wine, but at some point [if they're not trust fund babies] they will have to come to terms with their own impetuousness.
Any rational buyer of course considers shipping costs. 85% of my retail purchases are local, but even in NY metro somethings I need to go farther for. I don't often buy from flash sites, but when I do it is usually (always?) free shipping. As to sound decision making, don't take advice from folks known for extolling Chrish Peel at Carolina Wine as the epitome of retailers.

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#11 Post by J a y H a c k »

I have placed 11 orders from WTSO in 11 years. I just looked them over and I regret none of them. All well-known brands, especially discount bubbly. You have to be patient and be willing to wait until something good pops up. I got a bottle of 2008 La Grande Dame 2 years ago for $120 plus tax no shipping. That's an excellent price, but only if you like that wine. I do.
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#12 Post by blainemorris »

After reading Jay’s last message, I was compelled to count my number of WTSO orders over the last 11 years…and a shipment that arrived this week while I was out of town was #100. Not sure whether to be ashamed or proud. Though I live adjacent to wine country, I struggle to acquire good value white burg, Rhône and red Bordeaux that isn’t plonk. I love wtso for the above categories of wine. Very very dependable, and free shipping for 4 bottles usually. They will also hold your wines in the summer. I like their collective palate, so I trust them.

I’ve bought a fair amount of lastbottle as well, but I pick and choose there, and ALWAYS check the ABV…they seem to be partial to big 15%+ bombers, which I abhore. They also lean towards a kirsch profile on Rhônes that I don’t care for…so always look for the kirsch descriptor…they offer it with pride. They do free shipping too.

I’ve never been disappointed by Garagiste other than their “mystery” wines, which had consistently underperformed for me. They have great back vintage stuff, but their shipping can be steep.

I’ve not tried first bottle, maybe I should.

Overall advice has been shared, don’t get caught up in the private label or mystery BS, and there are some great gems to be had!

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#13 Post by Max S. »

Nathan Smyth wrote: February 10th, 2022, 7:28 pm Purchasing online can be an extremely effective method of turning a $20 bottle of wine into a $40 bottle of wine, via the magic of Shipping & Handling.

Maybe if you lived somewhere like Antarctica, you'd be forced to order all of your wine online, but unless the bottle were roughly $100+, shipping it would not generally be a sound* financial decision.

If you've got one or two decent retailers within a 15 or 20 mile drive, then you'd save a ton of money purchasing from them, rather than ponying up all that dough for S&H.

Finally, be especially leery of online merchants which are using S&H as a profit driver [rather than as a loss leader].

*My guess is that many [most?] people on this board don't make sound decisions when purchasing wine, but at some point [if they're not trust fund babies] they will have to come to terms with their own impetuousness.
Factoring tax, s+h, etc, my online purchases tend to be 20-40% under what I'd pay retail.
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#14 Post by CJ Beazley »

Nathan Smyth wrote: February 10th, 2022, 7:28 pm Purchasing online can be an extremely effective method of turning a $20 bottle of wine into a $40 bottle of wine, via the magic of Shipping & Handling.

Maybe if you lived somewhere like Antarctica, you'd be forced to order all of your wine online, but unless the bottle were roughly $100+, shipping it would not generally be a sound* financial decision.

If you've got one or two decent retailers within a 15 or 20 mile drive, then you'd save a ton of money purchasing from them, rather than ponying up all that dough for S&H.

Finally, be especially leery of online merchants which are using S&H as a profit driver [rather than as a loss leader].

*My guess is that many [most?] people on this board don't make sound decisions when purchasing wine, but at some point [if they're not trust fund babies] they will have to come to terms with their own impetuousness.
That might be true in your market, but I’d be willing to bet you don’t live in Texas, where this is generally not the case.
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#15 Post by Nathan Smyth »

If you guys can find online retailers who can both undercut local retail prices AND offer free shipping, then that's awesome.

Personally, I've never seen it on sub-$50 wines; the S&H simply destroys the value proposition.

It tends to make sense for $75 to $100 wines [and higher], especially when you can't source those wines locally.

But for beginners, looking to purchase $20 & $30 & $40 wines, I don't see the value proposition.

On the other hand, if anyone wants to name an online retailer which routinely ships $20 wines for free, then do tell.

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#16 Post by Ben M a n d l e r »

Nathan Smyth wrote: February 13th, 2022, 10:43 pm On the other hand, if anyone wants to name an online retailer which routinely ships $20 wines for free, then do tell.
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#17 Post by G. Singh »

Nathan Smyth wrote: February 13th, 2022, 10:43 pm

On the other hand, if anyone wants to name an online retailer which routinely ships $20 wines for free, then do tell.
WTSO ?
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#18 Post by John Kight »

blainemorris wrote: February 11th, 2022, 4:27 pm I’ve never been disappointed by Garagiste other than their “mystery” wines, which had consistently underperformed for me. They have great back vintage stuff, but their shipping can be steep.
They've always had great customer service, and I've had a bit of success with the mystery wines but ONLY when they've been Italian. My concern is that the percentage of their email offerings that relate to these "mystery wines" has rapidly increased over the past 2-3 years, from "occasional" to what now seems like 50%+ of their total offers. For the most part, I view these offers as SPAM--a lengthy email saying nothing more than "This wine is cheap for $X, but we can't tell you what it is. But we CAN tell you that it's not 2011 or 2013, and right now, and it's not from South Africa, and it may or may not be from the Southern Hemisphere, and there's someone, somewhere, who is being asked to pay more for it."

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#19 Post by Jonathan Jaggers »

Nathan Smyth wrote: February 13th, 2022, 10:43 pm If you guys can find online retailers who can both undercut local retail prices AND offer free shipping, then that's awesome.

Personally, I've never seen it on sub-$50 wines; the S&H simply destroys the value proposition.

It tends to make sense for $75 to $100 wines [and higher], especially when you can't source those wines locally.

But for beginners, looking to purchase $20 & $30 & $40 wines, I don't see the value proposition.

On the other hand, if anyone wants to name an online retailer which routinely ships $20 wines for free, then do tell.
Several of them offer free shipping if you spend more than, say, $100, or buy more 3 or 4 of those lower priced bottles. The value prop usually wouldn't be there if you buy only a singleton $20 bottle (if you can find a local retailer that carries the bottle you're eyeballing at a decent price). When you get into even the $40 territory, sometimes paying the shipping for a few of those bottles from an online retailer that has enough of a discount can put you square or even ahead with the markup the local retailer who has those bottles might charge. Certainly the case in the state I live in.
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#20 Post by mattcitrang »

Ben M a n d l e r wrote: February 13th, 2022, 11:45 pm
Nathan Smyth wrote: February 13th, 2022, 10:43 pm On the other hand, if anyone wants to name an online retailer which routinely ships $20 wines for free, then do tell.
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#21 Post by Patrick Harris »

mattcitrang wrote: February 14th, 2022, 5:55 am
Ben M a n d l e r wrote: February 13th, 2022, 11:45 pm
Nathan Smyth wrote: February 13th, 2022, 10:43 pm On the other hand, if anyone wants to name an online retailer which routinely ships $20 wines for free, then do tell.
Wine.com with stewardship (I promise, I’m not a shill)
what is the cost of the stewardship?
I think they regularly offer it for $59.99 / year after a $20 discount.

I'm sitting on a $100 off $300 coupon right now and contemplating it but not sure if I need another wine website to purchase from (I already purchase regularly from casemates, winespies, wtso, and just added lastbottle and garagiste to my list).

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#22 Post by Geoff Weathersby »

Agree with all the comments above. www.winebounty.com is a good aggregator site that you can see all the flash/discount site offers. They also show the past offers which will give you an idea of what the various flash sites have been selling of late.

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#23 Post by Patrick Harris »

Geoff Weathersby wrote: February 14th, 2022, 9:58 am Agree with all the comments above. www.winebounty.com is a good aggregator site that you can see all the flash/discount site offers. They also show the past offers which will give you an idea of what the various flash sites have been selling of late.
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#24 Post by GregT »

Purchasing online can be an extremely effective method of turning a $20 bottle of wine into a $40 bottle of wine, via the magic of Shipping & Handling.

Maybe if you lived somewhere like Antarctica, you'd be forced to order all of your wine online, but unless the bottle were roughly $100+, shipping it would not generally be a sound* financial decision.
How does this apply to the question?

You might want to check out the sites first. They generally offer free shipping.

As far as pros and cons - sometimes they get pretty good deals when distributors are trying to clear out inventory. And depending on where you live, they may or may not have access to things your market does not. And both WTSO and Last Bottle will hold for customers who don't want things shipped in the heat.

Cons are that they mostly sell stuff you probably don't want, and on LB in particular, the prices aren't usually too great.
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#25 Post by Max S. »

Patrick Harris wrote: February 14th, 2022, 8:56 am
I think they regularly offer it for $59.99 / year after a $20 discount.

I'm sitting on a $100 off $300 coupon right now and contemplating it but not sure if I need another wine website to purchase from (I already purchase regularly from casemates, winespies, wtso, and just added lastbottle and garagiste to my list).
If you decide against it, I will put that coupon to good use. It seems like the coupons will continue in some form. Pricing obviously varies by bottle, but generally if I'm getting a 20%+ coupon or cash back, I'm probably at or below Wine-Searcher's low price.
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#26 Post by RickD »

Other "deal" options not mentioned include wineaccess.com, winetext.com (operated by Wine Library), and vinformant.com

In terms of value and the ability to get a lot of different wines at a reasonable cost, i think all of the options mentioned provide a great deal of potential value to someone starting out. I do agree with what folks have said - your ability to find these kinds of prices at retail depends on where you live. I certainly save money vs what I'd pay in the DC area for most of these wines.

The problem with all of them is that if you're not already familiar with the market, it can be a challenge to identify the real opportunities. It's not always easy to identify NDA wines and wines from poor producers and poor vintages from the stuff you should be going after... and some of the sites like WTSO.com put out multiple offers a day and sell out of the best deals fairly quickly. I've ended up helping out some friends by watching over the offers and pointing out the ones to them that they should take advantage of.

I'll also put two cents in for Wine Library's "Library Pass" offer - $99/year for free shipping on most of what they sell. Their selection isn't what it once was, but if you're buying a lot of wine, that offer saves a pile of money fast.. and it also applies to their winetext.com and cellartext.com offers.

I know wine.com has a similar, cheaper offering but their prices in my state are always terrible... but their prices vary by state so it may be better elsewhere.
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#27 Post by T Halverson »

I'm guilty of having bought a good bit of wine from Wine Library's WineText and Cinderella Wines, Last Bottle and WTSO.

Wine Library tends to sell primarily on the basis of points and scores. Ergo lots of Suckling, Maroni and Halliday ratings. Their Cinderella site seems to have become a place to recycle previous offers that didn't sell out. The plethora of daily email offerings of the same thing items time and again can become overwhelming. If you are going to be buying often from them, purchasing their Library Pass can get you 'free' shipping without choking on the daunting quantities necessary to get shipping included with the offer.

Last Bottle can have some pretty interesting and unusual California wines from time to time. They can serve as an conduit to trying some up and coming wineries, ie Halcon back when. While they will hold for cooler weather shipping, in the past it has been an issue with their Marathons, and some desirable held wines seem to have a tendency to disappear prior to being shipped. In the early years, they seemed to offer a number of oxidized low end white wines, but I don't get the sense that is as much an issue anymore.

With WTSO there seem to be a lot of essentially 'house brands' with inflated 'comparable prices', and little or no Cellar Tracker sales by other vendors. Sometimes they offer imports that are pretty much unknown to the US. I watch for vintages from established wineries that are a bit past the current one, since those seem to be the cases of wineries dumping old stock. For me, they've been a great source for discounted Oregon pinot noir and occasionally daily drinker Chablis.

As for bottle condition, I've had no more indications of storage issues than bottles purchased from any source, aside from winery direct.

The service from the WTSO is exemplary. Put charitably, LB has been a bit hit and miss for me. Wine Library might need a little nudge now and again but when that happens, they are generally responsive to problems.

All that said, these cannot replace establishing a relationship with a good retailer. They can often point you to new wines you will like, and offer you coveted wines that you won't see on the liquidator sites. Your rate of misses will tend to be much lower with them. Using the flash sale and liquidator sites is much easier when you already have a good sense of the lay of the land.

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#28 Post by Nathan Smyth »

My guess would be that if they're offering free shipping on $20 bottles of wine, then the true retail value of the wine is probably down around $7.50 to $10.00 [and maybe even less].

Again, I don't have any experience in this market segment, but it feels like a con job to me, where they're fooling people into believing that the wines down in the bargain bin are as good as the wines higher up on the shelves.

As heavy and as fragile as wine is, I don't see how even the biggest online merchants could negotiate a shipping cost much less than about $7.50 to $10.00 per bottle; it seems like UPS & FedEx would go bankrupt if they were moving heavy glass bottles at less than that.

And somebody's gotta pay for the cardboard & the styrofoam & the packaging tape.

My guess is that the large online merchants purchase the wines [en masse, from wholesaler & importer closeouts] at about $5 per bottle, spend about $7.50 to $10 per bottle on shipping & handling, and clear about $5 to $7.50 per bottle in gross revenue.

I also don't see how it's possible to pay employees anything even remotely resembling a "Living Wage" at those kinds of margins.

You'd need to sell on the order of hundreds of thousands of those "$20" bottles in order to pay your employees even a meager salary.

But I suppose the bottom line is whether the wine in the freely-shipped $20 bottle actually tastes good or not [employees be damned].

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#29 Post by Patrick Harris »

Nathan Smyth wrote: February 17th, 2022, 4:39 pm My guess would be that if they're offering free shipping on $20 bottles of wine, then the true retail value of the wine is probably down around $7.50 to $10.00 [and maybe even less].

Again, I don't have any experience in this market segment, but it feels like a con job to me, where they're fooling people into believing that the wines down in the bargain bin are as good as the wines higher up on the shelves.

As heavy and as fragile as wine is, I don't see how even the biggest online merchants could negotiate a shipping cost much less than about $7.50 to $10.00 per bottle; it seems like UPS & FedEx would go bankrupt if they were moving heavy glass bottles at less than that.

And somebody's gotta pay for the cardboard & the styrofoam & the packaging tape.

My guess is that the large online merchants purchase the wines [en masse, from wholesaler & importer closeouts] at about $5 per bottle, spend about $7.50 to $10 per bottle on shipping & handling, and clear about $5 to $7.50 per bottle in gross revenue.

I also don't see how it's possible to pay employees anything even remotely resembling a "Living Wage" at those kinds of margins.

You'd need to sell on the order of hundreds of thousands of those "$20" bottles in order to pay your employees even a meager salary.

But I suppose the bottom line is whether the wine in the freely-shipped $20 bottle actually tastes good or not [employees be damned].
I think most of these sites likely do not employ much for employees - maybe a handful of people in the shipping/receiving area, and a couple of CS/Admin people, on top of the ownership / wine buyers.

And I hazard a guess that the amount of volume with these does get them very good pricing on shipping, probably in the $2-3 a bottle level. Even Underground Cellar (which I would not call a deal site) only charges arouund $38 for a full case of wine if you're paying shipping. I'm guessing their negotiated rates are about half that.

Really at question is how much the sites utilize as margin and their pricing strategies. I know that a site like casemates is grossing around 10-20 cases a day and they're a relatively small operation. They charge $2 / btl shipping if you don't have their membership which is better than most.

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#30 Post by Michae1 P0wers »

Nathan Smyth wrote: February 17th, 2022, 4:39 pm My guess would be that if they're offering free shipping on $20 bottles of wine, then the true retail value of the wine is probably down around $7.50 to $10.00 [and maybe even less].

Again, I don't have any experience in this market segment, but it feels like a con job to me, where they're fooling people into believing that the wines down in the bargain bin are as good as the wines higher up on the shelves.

As heavy and as fragile as wine is, I don't see how even the biggest online merchants could negotiate a shipping cost much less than about $7.50 to $10.00 per bottle; it seems like UPS & FedEx would go bankrupt if they were moving heavy glass bottles at less than that.


And somebody's gotta pay for the cardboard & the styrofoam & the packaging tape.

My guess is that the large online merchants purchase the wines [en masse, from wholesaler & importer closeouts] at about $5 per bottle, spend about $7.50 to $10 per bottle on shipping & handling, and clear about $5 to $7.50 per bottle in gross revenue.

I also don't see how it's possible to pay employees anything even remotely resembling a "Living Wage" at those kinds of margins.

You'd need to sell on the order of hundreds of thousands of those "$20" bottles in order to pay your employees even a meager salary.

But I suppose the bottom line is whether the wine in the freely-shipped $20 bottle actually tastes good or not [employees be damned].
While you may not have any experience in this market segment, many here do, and there are thousands of pages devoted to these topics on this site. Your guess is way, way off on the cost of shipping paid by large retailers. No way wine.com is paying $90-120 a case to ship. And while I'm sure most of the products from flash sites are either some form of closeouts or are direct imports, and while many likely aren't very good, others are known quantities. Sometimes even great wines are closed out at bargain pricing, whether online or in traditional retail.

It's probably best to look beyond flash sites, which have very limited inventories and could rely heavily on closeouts and direct imports. Consider retailers like Empire, Saratoga, and B-21, to name just a few. These retailers have a huge variety of wines, extensive product lists, typically offered at the lowest prices in the country per wine-searcher pro. They each charge about $25 per case for shipping, except B-21, which charges $12 per 12 bottle case, including mixed cases, over $200. These aren't closeouts or unwanted wines. These are the current releases of widely distributed wines from around the world, at the lowest prices in the country, shipped for approx. $1-2/btl on case quantities. Then there are, as previously mentioned, options like wine.com and winelibrary who offer unlimited shipping for one annual fee. There are simply tons of options for free or very low cost shipping.

As I see it, unless you're lucky enough to live near amazing retailers, with both great selection and great pricing, then shipping almost certainly makes more sense economically. This is to say nothing of the benefits of a good local wine shop, or the vagaries of shipping laws, as I'm speaking only to the economic and selection issues. Flash sites, IMO, require more careful selection if they are used.

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#31 Post by John Glas »

FBPR50 Wine.com for new customers $50 off $150 for me is worth buying a few bottles. Anyone know what shipping per bottle is normally?

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#32 Post by Max S. »

Michae1 P0wers wrote: February 18th, 2022, 9:59 amThey each charge about $25 per case for shipping, except B-21, which charges $12 per 12 bottle case, including mixed cases, over $200.
Last I bought from Empire they were at $40+ for shipping, same with Saratoga. That said, the combo of pricing and shipping they are still significantly cheaper than what I can get.
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#33 Post by John Glas »

Max S. wrote: February 20th, 2022, 5:40 pm
Michae1 P0wers wrote: February 18th, 2022, 9:59 amThey each charge about $25 per case for shipping, except B-21, which charges $12 per 12 bottle case, including mixed cases, over $200.
Last I bought from Empire they were at $40+ for shipping, same with Saratoga. That said, the combo of pricing and shipping they are still significantly cheaper than what I can get.
$40 shipping to Denver is a great deal. I have been quoted $50 from Chicago to Minneapolis. That is not a good deal.

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#34 Post by K N Haque »

John Glas wrote: February 20th, 2022, 4:59 pm FBPR50 Wine.com for new customers $50 off $150 for me is worth buying a few bottles. Anyone know what shipping per bottle is normally?
This may depend on your wine.com warehouse, but for me, shipping is $20 for 3 bottles, $29 for 6 and $40 for 12. There is also the option to buy unlimited shipping for $59 a year (called Stewardship).
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#35 Post by John Glas »

K N Haque wrote: February 20th, 2022, 6:06 pm
John Glas wrote: February 20th, 2022, 4:59 pm FBPR50 Wine.com for new customers $50 off $150 for me is worth buying a few bottles. Anyone know what shipping per bottle is normally?
This may depend on your wine.com warehouse, but for me, shipping is $20 for 3 bottles, $29 for 6 and $40 for 12. There is also the option to buy unlimited shipping for $59 a year (called Stewardship).
$60 for the year is a great deal. Never really look into buying from them with all their coupons and deals. I like to know the price up front but if you can do shipping that cheap for a year they certainly have some nice wines once you apply the coupons.

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#36 Post by Michae1 P0wers »

Max S. wrote: February 20th, 2022, 5:40 pm
Michae1 P0wers wrote: February 18th, 2022, 9:59 amThey each charge about $25 per case for shipping, except B-21, which charges $12 per 12 bottle case, including mixed cases, over $200.
Last I bought from Empire they were at $40+ for shipping, same with Saratoga. That said, the combo of pricing and shipping they are still significantly cheaper than what I can get.
$25 is Midwest so I’d assume Denver kicks into a higher bracket.

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#37 Post by Dale Bowers »

You get what you pay for. Still true today.
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#38 Post by Dennis Borczon »

Well if you are looking for a specific wine, sometimes auction sites are worthwhile. I had the yen to get a couple of more modern bottles of Williams Selyem pinot this weekend and scouted winebid. Had a couple of bottles of Westside Neighbors 2019 listed for $60 per (low bid). Got them both with fees for $151 all in. Lowest WS price was $99.00 before tax and shipping. Release price from the winery is $120per unit. As long as you are not looking for high demand Burgs right now there are plenty of other categories that are being overlooked completely as the money is chasing particular labels regardless of the wine inside. Shocked the other day to see Roumier Clos de la Bussiere going for $400.00 a bottle....yikes! Got offered that wine for $160.00 a year or two ago. Pretty sure the Williams Selyem Westside will provide a lot of bang for the buck compared to a $400.00 premiere Cru that is not all that incredible.

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#39 Post by Michae1 P0wers »

Dale Bowers wrote: February 20th, 2022, 7:52 pm You get what you pay for. Still true today.
I understand the general spirit of your post, but I fear that too often in wine one doesn't get what they pay for, in a sense. If a wine costs $50 plus shipping from retailer A or $30 from B with free shipping, does the wine drink any differently? I'd think not, assuming a current release wine where variables such as storage are not at issue. Additionally, there is an ocean of overpriced wine out there, and similarly an ocean of lovely but underappreciated wine. Yes, one should probably avoid unheard of wines, even if they look like a deal, but if you can find a great price on a wine you believe to be good then I say take it.

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#40 Post by Nathan Smyth »

You guys are quoting prices which make my jaw drop.

$1 per bottle in shipping fees?!?!?

I'll have to take your word for it - I've never seen any such thing being offered to me.

And goodness only knows who's ultimately paying for the final product.

Maybe the close-out specialists are purchasing the wines at $2.00 per bottle, and reselling them at $20 per bottle, with "free" S&H for the retail customer?

What does a bottle of wine weigh, 4 or 5 pounds? When I go to UPS, and send something heavy, I don't get anywhere close to $1 per 5 lbs shipped.

Probably more like $15 or $20 or $25 per 5 lbs shipped.

I don't see how the close-out specialists make this work, nor do I see how UPS makes this work.

PS: I don't think they have robots yet which can reliably sort and package glass bottles of wine; I think almost everyone is still using human beings for those jobs, and, as above, each of those human beings is gonna hafta be packaging tens of thousands of bottles per year to achieve a living wage.

I honestly don't see how it works, unless maybe they're hiring a bunch of illegal aliens who are cool with the idea of getting repetitive motion disorders from packaging all those bottles.

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#41 Post by Nathan Smyth »

I have long felt that there's a class of folk who use sites like Craigslist not so much to make a sale as to trick other folk into engaging in free garbage hauling [to remove all the unwanted crap from their property].

I wonder if at times there's so much excess juice in the marketplace that warehouse space for the new vintage becomes more important than holding on to the old vintage, and maybe the importers & distributors will effectively give away their product for free, so long as the closeout specialists will agree to haul away the old vintages on the closeout specialists' dime and on the closeout specialists' insurance policies?

Meaning if the tractor trailer gets blown over in a windstorm, and tens of thousands of bottles are destroyed [we'll hope & pray that the poor truck driver got out in one piece], then the contract was written so that entire mess is on the books of the closeout specialists, rather than the books of the importers or the distributors.

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#42 Post by Michae1 P0wers »

Nathan Smyth wrote: February 21st, 2022, 11:35 pm You guys are quoting prices which make my jaw drop.

$1 per bottle in shipping fees?!?!?

I'll have to take your word for it - I've never seen any such thing being offered to me.

And goodness only knows who's ultimately paying for the final product.

Maybe the close-out specialists are purchasing the wines at $2.00 per bottle, and reselling them at $20 per bottle, with "free" S&H for the retail customer?

What does a bottle of wine weigh, 4 or 5 pounds? When I go to UPS, and send something heavy, I don't get anywhere close to $1 per 5 lbs shipped.

Probably more like $15 or $20 or $25 per 5 lbs shipped.

I don't see how the close-out specialists make this work, nor do I see how UPS makes this work.

PS: I don't think they have robots yet which can reliably sort and package glass bottles of wine; I think almost everyone is still using human beings for those jobs, and, as above, each of those human beings is gonna hafta be packaging tens of thousands of bottles per year to achieve a living wage.

I honestly don't see how it works, unless maybe they're hiring a bunch of illegal aliens who are cool with the idea of getting repetitive motion disorders from packaging all those bottles.
Approximately 3 lbs, and a few ounces perhaps, but typically just over 3 lbs. Again, these are not wine discounting sites or "close-out specialists," but major retailers shipping current releases of major wines from around the world. Again, these are not prices for 1 bottle, but rather for a case quantity, including a mixed case. 1 bottle is always going to be highest, then declining through a 12 bottle case (except for those few places which will ship an 18 bottle case). It should be expected that you can't ship at anywhere near the prices they can, as I'm sure they are getting a major volume discount. At $1, I'm sure they are also eating some of the cost and I'm sure they also charge a bit more for mountain and west coast. Probably these are retailers where proximity to ports and favorable laws limiting distributor markups allow for lowest cost to their door.

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#43 Post by Michae1 P0wers »

Nathan Smyth wrote: February 21st, 2022, 11:50 pm I have long felt that there's a class of folk who use sites like Craigslist not so much to make a sale as to trick other folk into engaging in free garbage hauling [to remove all the unwanted crap from their property].

I wonder if at times there's so much excess juice in the marketplace that warehouse space for the new vintage becomes more important than holding on to the old vintage, and maybe the importers & distributors will effectively give away their product for free, so long as the closeout specialists will agree to haul away the old vintages on the closeout specialists' dime and on the closeout specialists' insurance policies?

Meaning if the tractor trailer gets blown over in a windstorm, and tens of thousands of bottles are destroyed [we'll hope & pray that the poor truck driver got out in one piece], then the contract was written so that entire mess is on the books of the closeout specialists, rather than the books of the importers or the distributors.
Occam must be rolling in his tomb (were he a real person that is). Probably instead of conspiracies involving illegal immigrants, mistreated workers, and elaborate schemes to write off inventory, these are just businesses which have found a niche focusing on limited costs and attempting to make up profit on volume. Many fail and go away, some last.

I feel like by repeatedly saying "close out specialists" you're insulting the posters who have participated here, suggesting they have poor taste and are buying plonk, even though it's been repeatedly explained that one can also most widely available wines with little to no shipping cost from any number of sources. I also find your incredulity less than authentic since flash sites and retailers who subsidize shipping have been around for years and years.

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#44 Post by Jonathan Loesberg »

What makes you think William of Occam wasn't a real person?

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#45 Post by Michae1 P0wers »

Jonathan Loesberg wrote: February 22nd, 2022, 8:58 am What makes you think William of Occam wasn't a real person?
My recollection was that there was a debate as to whether the idea should really be attributed to him, but it was several years ago that I looked into it, and just for kicks rather than with any particular depth or purpose. Upon looking at it just now, it appears that he is rightfully associated with the principle, at least per a quick look at Wikipedia.

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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#46 Post by Toby P »

At a high level, I'd say wine is close to a perfect industry for discount / flash sale retail. It's 1) extremely fragmented 2) quality is very subjective, and while there is some correlation to price it is far from perfect 3) quality is only one component of successful sales, and arguably pales in comparison to marketing / distribution strategy and skill for many wineries (assuming some minimum threshold of quality) and 4) related to 1-3, tons of operations that make good wine but may not be great at sales/marketing, or predicting demand and invenotry management...or just have occasional bottlings out of the many they do each year that don't sell out for reasons unrelated to quality. On top of all this, given the fragmentation there is a steady stream of wineries changing hands or shutting down, leading to inventory clearing, again for reasons largely unrelated to the quality of the inventory.

Adding these together all but guarantees a consistent supply of high quality wine that for one reason or another will not be able to sell out anywhere near a "comparable" normal retail price. Of course the discount sites tend to add a lot of filler in between higher quality offerings, hence the need as others have mentioned to develop your own process for evaluating / researching deals.
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#47 Post by Richard Foxall »

Nathan Smyth wrote: February 17th, 2022, 4:39 pm
Again, I don't have any experience in this market segment, but
Literally, every offer from WTSO includes free shipping with a set number of bottles-rarely more than four, sometimes as low as one. The number goes up (generally) as the price goes down. LastBottle does the same. FirstBottle has a similar policy--generally either a dollar amount or a number of bottles. They bought Invino a while back, and the policy there is free shipping with six bottles or $150 (I think) spent. WineAccess has free shipping with six bottles or $120 spent (and increases the discount on the wine as the number ordered goes towards a solid case). Garagiste used to be unpredictable and a bit expensive on shipping, but is now about $2.50 per bottle; that is offset by not adding sales tax. (Not sure if they pay it from the list price, or if they can claim no brick/mortar presence and not collect it). I can probably tell you a few others, but I do pickup at JJBuckley and occasionally RWCo, since I live nearby their warehouses, so I haven't got those memorized, and anything else like WineX, LAWC, etc would be before the pandemic, I think. The Wine.com option for shipping is like Amazon Prime, but Wine.com has noncompetitive prices to begin with, and who wants to pay up front for shipping?

See, I do have experience in "this market segment," as well as in purchasing from retailers, wineries, and (once in a while) supermarkets and big box stores. (I wrote a big piece for another site, now defunct, on the online market, years ago.) Not sure who stole my trust fund, but I must have had one, I guess. Meanwhile, maybe look at how the internet has changed rackjobbing, and take a look at what happens when a new vintage shows up on the shelves and the distributor still has some of the old one in the warehouse.

Now, for the OP: Everything Greg Tatar says about wine is the gospel truth, until you start a blind tasting. [I am not being sarcastic--he's an encyclopedia that just happens to be 6'5" tall or so.] And all of the sites have to be double checked because the "comparable" or "best web" prices are arrant nonsense (kind of like the quoted post above), and the hype about the wine is, well, hype. I wouldn't start my wine journey on the flash sites, but I find some things with limited distribution through WTSO and LastBottle (esp reasonably priced Italian wines from the Langhe and Montalcino) on those sites; I see what critics I like said about them, or if friends posted notes on CT (sometimes the critic and the friend are the same person), and I've discovered some reliable faves that way--Cascina Luisin, Rivetto, Ghisolfi in the Langhe; Caparzo, Molino del Piano, Vitanza in Brunello, to name just a few. Buy locally to start unless your local wine sources are really bad, then keep buying locally and add in the flash and other sites as you start to know what you like and see them listed. Get into this hobby and you can keep a few businesses in the black before you know it.
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#48 Post by John Danza »

According to CT, I have purchased 364 bottles from WTSO over the years. I've never had a bad experience. A lot of it was champagne. What I like about them is that there are labels that they carry all the time. You can call them to see if they have any even if it isn't the current wine being offered. I've purchased a lot of my champagne from them that way.
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#49 Post by Adam G »

Nobody mentioned casemates.com. It's a flash site (originally started as wine.woot.com) that has new offers 9pm PT on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday nights. The format is simple - there's a full case option and a smaller option that could be anywhere from 2 to 6 bottles. The case option is (obviously) cheaper per bottle. If you're not a member then shipping is $8 for the small pack and $12 for the case.

The thing that makes it unique is the accompanying forum (kind of like here in many ways) where folks can discuss each offer. For most of them, they send out a Lab Rat bottle to a few different people so they can taste and report back. The quality of those tasting notes can vary wildly. Often enough the winemaker will join in for some of the chat.

Mostly California wines, mostly smaller wineries. Sometimes we get Oregon or Washington there. Less frequently we'll get Michigan or New York. They get imports from time to time, too.

I'm not a shill, I've just been using that site since roughly 2008 and most of what I've learned about wine came from discussions there. There's also quite a number of people from here that are active there.
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Re: Are Wine Discounting Sites Recommended?

#50 Post by Ken V »

I've gotten some great deals from Premier Cru! newhere pileon [berserker.gif] [bye.gif]
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