Friday, May 29, 2009

Cheap wine on-line: Wine.Woot and Wines 'Til Sold Out

Here are a couple of websites worth checking out for occasional wine deals.

Wines 'Til Sold Out offers a single wine at a deep discount until, well, until it is sold out. Prices vary widely, although I have yet to see an offer under $10 or over $50/bottle. The discounts are pretty steep, generally more than 50% off full retail.

The website provides pretty thorough information, though naturally they claim that all the wines they offer are fabulous. One very nice feature is that shipping is free with a minimum purchase that seems to range from 2 to 4 bottles. Our only complaint is that there is no way to see previous offers. Sure, the wines are gone, but it would be nice to see what sorts of wines they get and at what prices they are offered. If any of you know how to find previous offers, please let us know.

As of this typing, WTSO is offering Artesa's 2006 Carneros Estate Reserve Pinot Noir, which retails for $40, for $26. A pretty good discount, indeed. We have not had the wine and would guess it is pretty good, but that you could find a comparable Pinot at that price. So hang on for future offers.

Woot Wine is a version of the Woot shopping page that specializes in, duh, wine. As with WTSO, they have a single offer at a time, and it, too, seems to stay up until the wine is gone. Unlike WTSO, it is possible to see prior offerings. Woot Wine offers a much more content-rich page, and the writing is quite humorous. In the short time that we have followed Woot Wine, we have yet to see a wine with which we are familiar, although we often have some knowledge of the winemakers involved. Prices seem quite reasonable. Shipping is low, and as with WTSO purchasing a certain amount usually gets the shipping fees waived.

Another neato Woot Wine feature is the discussion board. You can ask a question about the wine directly to the winemaker, or just read what other folks have to say about it.

Have any questions about the wines you see on either site? Have you bought any wines from them, and what did you think of those wines? Please share!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

2d poll results--how much is too much to spend on a wine?

The second poll generated less interest than the first, with only 5 people weighing in on the topic. One person selected two answers, indicating a too-high price at a restaurant as well as a too-high retail price. Unfortunately, the poll widget will not show us which the two answers were ($10 and $20? $20 and $100? we cannot know). We have not had luck finding a better poll tool, and we continue to welcome suggestions for readers.

So here are the results as we have them. How much is too much to spend? 2 votes for $20, 1 vote each for $35 and $50, and 2 votes for $100. We are encouraged by the results. We aim to feature wines that cost less than $20 here, but as you are doubtless aware it can be difficult to find genuinely exciting wines at this price. We now feel that we can discuss the occasional exciting find at more than $20 without alienating our readers!

We have some more poll ideas, so we'll put up a new poll soon. If you have any suggestions, please do send them our way.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wine and Social Media

This is a bit beyond the purview of our blog, but anyone interested in how social media (facebook, linkedin, and, ahem, blogs) will shape the future of wine and wine marketing should take a look at a new paper from VinTank available here.

This is a long document, but the table of contents should help you find content of interest. Wineries and wine bloggers should take note of the whole thing. Consumers will find the sections on various online wine communities, such as CellarTracker, Adegga, and Snooth of interest, and you may even find new ways to spend time on-line.

As always, comments are welcome. And yes, we will work on incorporating the ideas in the paper to improve this very blog, even if we feel decidedly stone-age after reading the paper.

New poll

The first poll is closed. Thank you for your participation. 100% of the respondents said they typically choose something new when buying a bottle of wine. Very nice, and we will continue to highlight bottles we think are worthy of your selection.

We have posted a new poll today on how much you are willing to spend on wine. The poll gadget is clunkier than we would like, so feel free to post a comment regarding your answer. If you choose two price levels we will assume that the higher price applies to restaurant purchases.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Poll results thus far

My, but you are an adventurous bunch. The first round of votes are in and 100% of the respondents say that they typically buy a new bottle.

Which immediately brings to mind all sorts of follow up questions. Do you buy wines that are new to you because:
- you are seeking out new experiences?
- you have not been happy with the wines you have bought?
- the wines you have bought are not available when you go back?

Doubtless you have other reasons. Please do share.

Thank you for the poll responses, and keep 'em coming. We'll post a new poll shortly.

Choosing wine by the importer

Wednesday on Slate, Mike Steinberger published a guide to help readers “Never Buy a Bad Bottle of Wine Again.” Although we have a few quibbles with the piece, we are mainly upset that we did not write it ourselves.

Steinberger’s point is that certain importers are so reliable that seeing their name on the back of a bottle of wine suffices to guarantee the wine’s quality. Steinberger even offers a tri-fold wallet card listing “Wine Importers You can Trust.” We strongly recommend reading the piece or at least scrolling to the bottom for the wallet card.

We are not familiar with all the importers on Steinberger’s list, although we are now intrigued to sample their offerings. The importers we do know, such as Robert Kacher, Eric Solomon, and the herein much mentioned Kermit Lynch, are indeed reliable importers. Which is to say that they stand behind any wine they bring in. These importers believe in the quality of their selections.

That is not quite the same as saying that you will not be disappointed. No one’s taste overlaps entirely with another’s. We have certainly tried wines from each of these importers that were not to our taste. But we have no doubt that these wines were selected sincerely rather than cynically. And while a disappointment is always a disappointment, we can learn about our own taste preferences from a “good” bottle that we do not enjoy, while a “bad” bottle is nothing but a bad bottle.

We would love to know your thoughts on Steinberger’s piece, and on choosing wines based on who imported them.

And by the way, much the same argument could be made for distributors of domestic wines. Unfortunately, the distributor is rarely as identifiable as an importer is, and a list like Steinberger's would be difficult to devise since distributors often work only within one or a few states. We shall work on it.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Polls

We are trying a little experiment here. You doubtless noticed the poll above. We plan to ask a few more questions, too, both to learn more about you and to determine new directions for the blog.

As always, please let us know what you think. Thank you for your responses.
 
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