HOW TO: BUY WINE ONLINE
With the ever-increasing availability of fantastic organic and minimal-intervention wines hitting Singapore’s wine stores, there’s never been a better time to be a sustainable wine shopper. But how can you make the right choice when presented with row after row of bottles on the shelf?
Fortunately, fantastic online wine sellers are now just a click away, so you can leisurely browse the “shelves” from the comfort of your sofa (with a glass of wine in hand!).
However, all-new ways of shopping could mean new challenges. So if you want to avoid common online wine shopping mistakes and make sure that you get the perfect bottle of wine each time, read our short, handy guide to buying wine online.
- KNOW YOUR SELLER
Let’s start with the most important point: how well do you know your online wine shop? Take a good look at their website and social media: ask yourself whether it matches to your goal for buying wine. If you’re looking for the best Burgundy around, do they know their Rousseau from their Roumier? Or if you’re more sustainably-focused, do their brand message and values speak to you? Does the store work closely with winemakers, or are they working with an importer?
Go ahead and compare to other wine stores to see how your favourite store matches up. Remember that you’re looking for stores that care for the wines you are going to want to drink, not just their bottom line. If you’re in any doubt, drop the wine store a message; a good seller will want to get to know you and recommend wines that suit your tastes.
- KNOW YOUR PRICE
If your store isn’t working exclusively with their producers, there’s a chance you’ll be able to get the wine somewhere else in your location. Make sure you know the market price so that you’re not getting overcharged – price-searching sites like wine-searcher.com can help here.
Especially watch out for deals that seem too good to be true: they often are. There can be a variety of reasons for a wine being on a reduced rate, and not all of them are good. Check the market price of the reduced bottle and its vintage – you don’t want to be caught by a site trying to offload old stock.
- KNOW YOUR LIMIT
Of course, the best deals come when you buy in bigger quantities. If you know exactly the wine you like then consider ordering by the case; you’ll save on delivery and no doubt the wine store will give you a better rate.
If you don’t know what you want yet, don’t feel the pressure of a bulk discount. Make sure you like the wine before committing to a dozen bottles! For the best deals, ask your store if they offer a mixed case that could bump up the value of the order. It’ll make sense for the seller to send you more wine, and you’ll get the chance to try a wider variety of delicious wines. And if you love one of those bottles, don’t forget to buy more.
- KNOW YOUR TYPE
What you may immediately miss from a physical wine shop is the chance to ask your seller for their recommendation. And while that is possible in online stores (see our tip above), you may find it daunting seeing a list of unfamiliar grapes and wine styles online and no-one on hand to ask.
Fear not! While you can always search online to learn more about specific grapes, you shouldn’t need to for every bottle you don’t recognise. Look for key descriptors on the wine, or check reviews on apps like Vivino and Delectable to understand their flavour. Learning how to describe your favourite wines (rather than naming specific grapes) will help you to look out for key descriptors that will signal your perfect wine. Check out our post here on the only wine terms you need to know.
Part of the fun with online wine shopping comes from being adventurous. While we may naturally turn to the familiar aisles of Italian pinot grigio and New Zealand sauvignon blanc, there’s something exciting about being drawn to a natural skin-contact orange wine.
- KNOW YOUR OPTIONS
Now you’ve chosen your perfect wine, and it’s on the way to you, you need to make sure a delivery mix-up doesn’t complicate matters. Remember that heat is one of wine’s biggest killers, so ensure whoever is delivering your wine isn’t going to leave it out in Singapore’s beating sun if you aren’t at home. Being able to pick your exact delivery slot is a real benefit – check with your wine seller if that is possible or whether other options (like in-store pickup) are available.
It’s best to work with sellers that deliver the wines themselves, as you can be sure that your package is treated with care. Ideally, wines should be kept at a consistent temperature and not moved excessively, so do check delivery options with your seller.
If you’re shipping from overseas, or your wine will be travelling for an extended period, be wary of a phenomenon some call “bottle shock”. Wines can display muted or closed-off flavours and aromas if opened too soon after a long journey. If you notice this happening with one of your bottles, make sure to rest the others for at least a week before opening. This should allow the wine time to settle.
SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP
Now that you know our top tips for buying wine online, you’ll have no problem navigating the corners of the web looking for fantastic wines at great prices. There’s a world of delicious wines out there waiting for you, and you don’t even need to leave your living room!
For sustainable wines, tailored recommendations and custom delivery slots, shop the Brown Bag Wines collection here. If there’s a particular bottle or producer you’re looking for, do get in touch and we’ll see how we can help.
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