Buying Vintage Wine Online: The Ultimate Guide

In the age of e-commerce, buying vintage wine online has steadily increased in popularity. Here’s everything you need to know about shopping for and investing in fine wine online.

According to Forbes, a wine’s vintage – the year in which grapes are harvested and wine is produced in a particular region – is one of the main factors that should be considered when growing your investment portfolio with wine. Whether you’re shopping for pleasure or investment purposes, it’s incredibly important to understand how to find high-quality vintage wines online.

As a retailer specializing in fine and vintage wine sales online, we understand the many options that are out there, as well as the information overload that comes with them. That’s why we’re bringing you our very best tips for searching, sourcing, and shopping for vintage wine online.

First, let’s examine what makes shopping online for wine unique from buying in-store.

Buying wine online vs. buying in-store

Selection

The biggest difference between shopping online and in-store for wine is selection. Online retailers carry a wide range of vintages, producers, regions, and types of wine. Even difficult-to-find bottles can occasionally pop up online, and you can grab them quickly before they sell out. You can also reserve future arrivals, rather than taking your chances scoring highly anticipated vintages when they’re released.

Price

Another major difference between buying vintage wine online and shopping in-store is price. Physical retailers tend to have elevated expenses such as overhead and increased shipping costs, which are then passed along to bottle and case prices. Pricing is also subject to local costs, so if you’re shopping in an expensive area, the costs of the wine could be above average.

When you buy wine online, you’re more likely to get a bottle at its true market price. This is because you have the ability to compare exact bottles among online retailers and shop around for the best prices. When it comes to rare or collectible wines, especially if you’re shopping for cases, even a 5% price change can make a big difference.

Benefits of buying wine online

While shopping for wine in person can be a great and enjoyable experience, there are some major benefits to buying online that shouldn’t be overlooked. Consider the information available to you when you shop for vintage wine online.

Wine critic ratings

One of our customers’ favorite things we offer is immediate wine critic ratings for many wines on our site. Take this excellent bottle of 2018 Chateau Pichon-Lalande Pauillac, for example.

2018 Chateau Pichon-Lalande Pauillac Wine Critic Ratings

This bottle has 8 wine critic ratings readily available online, just a glance away when you’re shopping. Best known are Robert Parker, James Suckling and Jancis Robinson, among other critics. For collectors who are serious about their vintages or for newer collectors looking for guidance, wine critic ratings are a great place to start when looking for your next bottle.

Getting accurate wine recommendations

Another benefit of buying vintage wine online is understanding how various bottles and vintages are related. So whether you have a sophisticated palette and know exactly what you’re looking for, or you’re looking for recommendations, you can learn a lot online. At The Wine Cellarage, we use advanced technology to recommend other bottles based on your current query or selection. These recommendations come from an advanced algorithm that integrates flavor profiles, producers, vintages, and wine critic reviews. Don’t underestimate the power of the “You might also like” list!

Wine storage and resale

One of the most unexpected benefits of shopping for wine online is that you never actually need to take possession of the wine. Wait… what?

If you’re an investor interested in vintage wine as a portfolio asset, then the shipping costs and delivery fees for wine can make a dent in your profit margin. When you buy from an online retailer that also offers professional wine storage, you can purchase your bottles and keep them safely stored until you’re ready to resell them. Our storage clients have 24/7 access to their collections, track current market prices, and can even list wine for sale with just one click. Learn more about professional wine storage in our helpful guide.

Cautions and cons of buying wine online

Buying wine online is overwhelmingly a positive opportunity, but doesn’t come without some risks. Vintage wine runs the risk of loss in quality due to improper storage, as well as damage to the exterior of the bottle that can decrease its value.

To decrease the risks of damaged or spoiled bottles, consider the tips below.

  1. Never buy from a retailer that doesn’t offer an actual human point of contact.

    Buying vintage wine online is efficient and practical, but doesn’t need to be impersonal. Your preferred wine retailer should also be a resource to guide you and support you as you shop. Don’t be afraid to get on the phone, ask questions, and get to know the people you’re shopping from. Oftentimes wine sales associates have certifications from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, or WSET for short, and are extremely knowledgable about vintages, regions, and more. Use them as an asset as you grow your fine wine collection.

  2. Ask vintage wine retailers about their wine storage practices.

    Ask vintage wine retailers about their wine storage practices. There are many aspects of wine that require safekeeping from actual drinking quality to label and seal condition. Working with a wine retailer that understands the value in proper wine storage can ultimately protect your collection and investment.

  3. Pay attention to the fine (wine) print.

    Buying wine online often means reserving future arrivals or buying a minimum quantity of bottles. If you’re expecting to buy a bottle and have it arrive at your doorstep by tomorrow morning, be sure to read the description of what you’re ordering. Fine wine retail isn’t like Amazon – same-day delivery is often too good to be true! The good news is that most vintages are worth the wait, we promise.

Summary: buying vintage wine online

Buying vintage wine online is the future for many investors and hobbyists, and is gaining recognition every day. While it takes some getting used to shopping online and finding a retailer that suits your needs, the education and resources available are endless.

If you’re curious about buying vintage wine online and need help getting started, then get in touch with our sales team! We’d love to help you grow your collection and shop fine wine from the comfort of your home.

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