Picture this. You are hosting a dinner party, and everything is prepared. Your menu has been carefully crafted. Your guests are invited and you are already sure that you have selected a picture-perfect outfit from your wardrobe. But you haven’t gotten the wine yet! What with work and the kids to look after, there’s no time to visit your favorite wine store and get the benefit of their advice. Ordering online gives you a fantastic range to choose from and you can do it from the comfort of your own home. But, how do you know that you aren’t buying a dud? Check out our guide to picking the perfect bottle of wine online and make your dinner preparations complete.
Narrow Down the Field
Your first step is to get a clear idea of what you want to buy. Think about the occasion you are going to serve the wine at, any food that might be served, and what sort of budget you are considering. Once you have isolated these factors, you should have a great idea of whether you want sparkling wine, red, white, or rosé—and you should even be able to think about the kind of varietals you want depending on the time of year and the menu.
If you are looking for some ideas, why not check out our guides on what to serve with fish, with meat or specific occasion pairings such as wine matches for festive calendar dates, like Thanksgiving.
Find a Reputable Source
- Now you know what you are looking for, you need to consider who you are going to buy from. There is a wide range of online wine sellers that fall into a range of categories:
- Wine merchants who specialize in nothing but wine. These vendors are likely to have the very best quality wines available, but often command the highest price tags too. You can guarantee that they know their stuff and you will always find a great product, but be aware of “bin ends”—wines that are sold at a knockdown price, where perhaps the case hasn’t sold as well as they expected, the particular vintage isn’t as good as previous years or perhaps the wine is reaching the end of its drinking window and isn’t quite at its prime anymore.
- Wine clubs. These private enterprises can be a great way of accessing an interesting, carefully curated wine selection, but they may not be accessible for one-off purchases, so make sure that you don’t end up signing up for six months of wine deliveries when you just want a single case for a special dinner!
- Direct from the cellar door. More and more winemakers are offering wine direct to the consumer. This can give you the benefit of a great price because there is no middle man taking a cut of the profit. It also gives you access to wines that are rarer or made in smaller quantities that would not be as commercially appealing to a bigger retailer.
- Markets, delis or supermarkets. Online ordering from food stores is the height of convenience, especially if you need wine and you have forgotten the cheese! Small independent stores can offer boutique wines at accessible prices because they strike up great relationships with local producers. Larger retailers will have wines at pocket-friendly prices because they have a lot of purchasing power to throw around, but make sure that you aren’t paying more in sales tax than you are for the actual wine in the bottle! Remember that the cheaper the wine, the less you are paying for the product itself, so looking at something in a middle to higher price bracket will offer significantly more value when it comes to deliciousness!
Make Your Final Checks
Now you know what you are buying and who you are buying from, use the web shop’s categories or search function to narrow down their range to your final shortlist. Think about your price point and the varietals that you are choosing from and don’t be afraid to pick a new grape variety or wine from an unfamiliar country. Part of the joy of drinking wine is the joy of discovering new flavors!
If you are spending a high dollar amount, it can be a good idea to use a wine website like Wine Searcher to check that you are getting good value for money and that the vintage on offer is a good one. If you are buying a mid-range wine, then oftentimes the reviews left by other users on a website will be a sufficient guide to checking that the wine you are buying is of the grade you are expecting. Seeing tasting notes left by other people that enjoy drinking wine will also confirm that you are going to get the flavor profile you are expecting too.
Have fun with buying online and use it as an opportunity to broaden your experience of wine from what you might ordinarily pick up off the grocery shelves. You can try Sweet Oaks wine by buying from our shop if you click through here.