How to Buy Wines Online and Game the System​​

Vivino Update

This site now claims 28 million subscribers who happily offer “crowd-sourcing” reviews. It is hard to put much faith in these reviews, but obviously, 28 million think sharing wine reviews is worth their time.

A few months ago, I downgraded this site because its wines for sale selections were unexciting and nothing I would buy or recommend.

Well, things change fast in the online world.  Starting around Thanksgiving, the wines listed were no longer your ordinary online wines, and, as a result,  the discounts also were very enticing.

Best news: it wasn’t just a change to cash in on the crazy Holiday shopping.

Someone must have stuck a firecracker up their app, but In addition to a few deeply discounted fantastic wines each week, vivino has entered the high-end market.

In a good way! Here one can find wines from Colgin, Hundred Acres, Phelps, Duckhorn, Caymus Special Selection, Stags Leap, and, get this, 2011 Biondi-Santi Brunello.

The most recent offering of ‘14 Banshee Napa Cab for $29.99 was a great find. What really got my attention was a Mt. Veeder Cab from the Y Rousseau winery, an excellent small producer soon to be discovered by others.  As for value, the ‘15 Farm Collective Cab at $14.99 is hard to beat.

Sure enough; Vivino has evolved and now has a Vivino Market, a paid membership with free shipping on every order. Membership gives you early access to special deals, some at 50% off retail. After a free trial period, membership is $47 a year.

Coincidentally, that is one buck less than the annual membership at wine.com. Let the games begin!

​February is Explore  Bordeaux Month

The floodgates are beginning to open for terrific deals, even genuine bargains, for 2015 red Bordeaux.

This vintage is living up to its advanced hype. The 2016 is also way above average. The 2017 crop was tiny and variable. 

The US dollar is getting weaker.
The time to buy is...now. 

We will be alerting you to unbeatable deals throughout the month.

So you can gloss over stories about $500-$1,000 bottles of Bordeaux. And you can pass on the chance to buy “Futures” of 2015 and take delivery (if you are lucky) several months from now.

 And please, Ignore any online retailers hyping offers of big named chateaux at crazy prices.

Unless you are a serious/compulsive collector which we respect or a totally insecure name-dropper, there is no reason to shell out big bucks for 2015 Bordeaux.

To us, “Bargain” does not mean cheap or lower quality. Or lowering your standards. It means high quality wines at honest, down to earth prices.

 We have already seen excellent deals of quality Bordeaux under $25 a bottle. Super, age-worthy wines below $50.

Our focus is on 2015s that are authentic and capture that special quality that defines Bordeaux.

 Today's Unbeatable Deals:

A perennial favorite known to deliver real value in outstanding vintages has arrived:

2015 Chateau Lanessan, Haut-Medoc

Savvy shoppers will snap it up in the $15-$22 price range.

This 2015 does not disappoint, delivering refined black fruit
in a supple package. The 2010, as a reference point, is wonderful right now.

Shop the 2015 online at these sites:

www.garagistewine.com has it for $15.97  a bottle and it is ready to be shipped.

The following will ship it in a few months:
www.wine.com has it for $16.97
www.finewinesinternational.com has it for $18. With free shipping on 6

www.lawineco.com for $17.95

Best Curated Deal of the Week 

Check out the weekly picks by Somms at

The 4 bottles offered this week for $69.99 with free shipping caught my attention.

First, all 4 are real wines from highly-regarded producers. NOT PRIVATE labels or custom-made wines. And they are well-chosen examples of the regions and the grapes used.

This week’s wines are a first-rate Chianti Classico, excellent Barbera D’Alba, a text-book 2015 Bourgueil, and a bright  Monterey Sauvignon Blanc From Bernadus.

A tasting video is included along with the usual tasting notes and recipe suggestions.

This is a theme selection:wines with pizza.

Why We Like this Offer:

Real wines selected by a real sommelier
You can learn a lot by tasting these 4 wines.
You get all the fun of a club with no fees, no obligations
Good value and free shipping

About Us

We are seeking the best wines available at the best prices.  And you dont have to leave home or the office.

Whether you are new to wine or a long-time collector, whether you are on a modest budget or are among the one-percenters, this Guide offers lots of good stuff:

Best deals of the day
Helpful background information
 Insider tips
 Money-saving buying strategies
Ratings & evaluations of the major sites
Frequent updates

Savvy Online Wine Shopping 101

Real Discounts or Bogus Prices?

Are Wine Clubs for you?

Trending Winery Direct

Looking for A Special Wine Club?

Here is A Hidden Gem in the Silicon Valley Area:

Sarah’s Vineyard, Santa Clara Valley, Santa Cruz Mountain Appellation

Quick View:

Strong on small-batch Pinot Noir, Estate Chardonnay, and several Estate Rhone wines. A true artisan winery.

Pinot Noirs from 5-6 appellations….will please any Pinot fanatic.
Cozy and friendly, very modest facility with tons of country charm.

Members receive 3 wines 4 times a year and can select the type: red, white or mixed.

Prices are relatively modest, ranging from $20 for a few white wines to $48 for the high end Pinots.

Members receive a 25% discount on shipped wines; 20% off all other wines.

Wine tastings for members and your guests are comped.

Wonderful offering of tasting room exclusives….small batch wines.

Wine country feel as visitors pass through the small 28-acre estate vineyard as they meander up to the tasting center.

                                          Read More
In the familiar digital world of coupons, member discounts and promo codes, we still need to ask ourselves: “How can online wine dealers knock 30%-70% off retail prices?

That’s a reasonable question to raise and it’s normal to be a little skeptical.

It is also normal to wonder if the wines fell off the back of the truck, were left sitting on the Houston docks in July, are total crap, or are truly a treasure trove discovered in a dark cellar.

Here are several reasonable explanations...                

Over the last three years I’ve been tracking many online wine clubs as part of my reporting on online wine retailers. As the direct to consumer clubs from wineries continue to grow, we are seeing an increase in independent clubs being offered by publications like the Wall Street Journal and airlines along with totally independent e-commerce businesses like the Wine of the Month Club, Vinesse, and Winc.

The Yelp-like reviews for these e-commerce only wine clubs are mixed and a few are downright hostile. 

More About Us

Point Scores: Helpful or Pointless?


Once upon a time in a kingdom far away, only Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and The Wine Spectator dueled over which one could score the most wines 90 points or more.

Then along came Stephen Tanzer, The Wine Enthusiast, Vinous and others to jump on the 100 point scoring system with a steady barrage of 90 point scores in their publications.  The result is total chaos.

Final Answer: Most often POINTLESS

                                    Read More

As I see it, this Guide is a cross between a website and a newsletter.

Given the fast-changing nature of the subject, it will be regularly revised and updated.

With wine, there is no such thing as a gifted palate or a natural born taster. 

There are no right or wrong answers about what to drink and when to drink a wine you like.

More expensive wines are not necessarily better than cheaper wines.

 Older wines are not better than young wines, and there never has been any system devised that can guarantee wine quality.