Buying wine online can be tricky for one simple reason: inconsistent and conflicting state alcohol laws. Some states only allow distributors to sell to consumers — producers cannot sell to us wine drinkers directly. Other states explicitly prohibit shipments from out-of-state wineries (but they sometimes give online retailers a pass). And in a lot of states, the state government controls all alcohol sales directly — and buying booze online threatens this revenue stream.
It can be complicated, but it’s getting better. The good news is that once you figure out your state’s quirks, buying wine is almost as simple as buying anything online.
There are just a few things to watch out for…
Shipping Can Be Expensive
Free shipping? It’s just not common yet. Expect to pay $10-$20 to ship your purchase. There are a lot fewer online wine retailers than other merchants, so price competition with shipping rates just isn’t a factor like it is with other online shopping sites. Also, wine is a perishable product. It’s more difficult to ship wine than a shirt from the Gap.
To spread out the cost of shipping, consider making less frequent, larger purchases. Instead of buying a single $15 bottle and paying $10 to ship it to you, consider buying 6-12 bottles, and spreading the cost of shipping over all of the bottles. The price-per-bottle of shipping more bottles is a lot lower than shipping fewer bottles. Paying less than $2 per bottle to ship is a reasonable goal and is a lot easier to swallow.
You Will Need To Sign For Your Shipment
Your wine will come in a box with all sorts of warnings. One says something like: “Recipient cannot receive package while visibly drunk.” If you’ve never purchased wine online before, prepare to be entertained!
Purchasing wine online is just like buying wine in person — you need to be of legal drinking age and the seller is obligated not to over-serve. The process is just spread out geographically, so while your age will be verified during purchase, your intoxication level gets checked on delivery.
I’ve found the best way to receive wine in the mail is to ship it to your workplace. If you work in a friendly office, ship it there and carry the box home during your commute.
Give It A Rest!
On its way to you, your wine has been jostled and shaken and should not be opened immediately. Wine nerds call this “bottle shock.” Give it a few days to relax. Put the box in your basement or pantry and do your best to wait a week. It’ll be tough, but it’ll be worth it.
Now, why should you buy wine online? Glad you asked. Click over to this article.