Amazon Wines

If Wine is on Your Lengthy Shopping List ....

Overall, Amazon's wine site has that supermarket feel to it which may be intentional.

Say you have a list of things to buy online, books, lawnmowers, and some shoes and to consolidate the order, you add a bottle or two of wine to your cart kind of as an after-thought.

If that works for you, fine.

Otherwise, you could end up shopping for a bottle of Barefoot or Lafite on your way home at one of these places:

Type: Mega-Site
Size: over 9,000 wines & packs
Focus: low-end wines
Strengths: CA wines
Discounts: Modest at 10%-20%
Shipping: one cent specials as well as Prime

Pros: it is Amazon afterall

Cons: uninspired selection

Rating: **

Chances are good if you own a smartphone, have a credit card, and are over the age of thirteen, you are familiar with Amazon.

And if you are among those who once enjoyed hanging out at bookstores, you may still be a bit resentful, but for most people, Amazon is the Mother, the genesis of all online sellers.

So you will not be shocked to hear that Amazon has a large wine department. Not the biggest, but close enough as the most recent listing of available wines exceeds 9,000.  

Amazon is a little different from other online wine sellers and Amazon loves to assemble wine packs of 2, 4, or 6 bottles. And toss in a few 12 bottle packs as well. So that 9,000 wine items listed includes these packs.

To digress, it is fascinating to hear Amazon label this category “wine packs” whereas the other sites prefer to label a selection of two or more wines as something curated. And the curation, if that’s a word, is almost always performed by experts curators.

 But Amazon is not without shame as many wine packs are grouped by producer, by region or by theme, as in wines to give to pacify the “Mad Housewife” or some other equally silly theme. Come on, wines group by the “Fifty Shades of Grey”?  That’s pushing it..

That said, now let’s get back to the details. About two-thirds of the wines on Amazon are US in origin, mostly California, but Washington State (1,500) is well-represented as in New York (550). These last two states have earned the recognition, so bravo Amazon.  French wines offered hover around 1,000, and Italy shows up with 485 offerings.

Amazon invites advertising, and it would appear that many of those wine packs feature wines from their advertisers. Amazon encourages sorting by Featured Wines.

No problem with that; it is good business to punch up its featured brands and partners.

When you begin hunting for deals and discounts, Amazon surprisingly is not exactly a savvy wine shopper’s paradise.  In fact, as is often pointed out in their customer’s reviews, quite a few of the wines can be bought at better prices at grocery stores like Safeway and at Costco and similar stores.

 Pacific Rim, Smoking Loon, Pepperwood Grove and Barefoot….and any other brands owned by Gallo may be cheaper at Rite-Aid, Safeway and CVS. (Note to Amazon brass: you often get as many negative reviews from your wine customers as 4 stars.)

When it comes to basic discounts, again Amazon pushes its mixed packs, offering 20% off on most of them. All tolled, there are about 165 Deals, many of them packed. But I could not find much to get excited about under that category.

 I then clicked on  the category of “1 cent shopping,” Eureka! The mother lode. The Mother’s mother lode. If you have some leisure time, you can browse through about a 161 pages with about 4,000 listings.

Best Tip: go to the 20% off list and look for those items that are also part of the 1 cent shipping for the best deals on Amazon.

There are over 300 wines and packs offered for the 1 penny shipping fee. Some are for one bottle, but, again, many are 3, 4 or 6 packs from one winery, including Barefoot and Pepperwood Grove. Hedges has 6 different package deals for 1 cent shipping along with various discounts. Overall, I found about 80 wines listed under $10

Some wines like those from Dry Creek Vineyards, Hedges, and Zaca Mesa are shipped directly from the winery and that, to me, is a good thing. Good for both the low shipping price and the provenance.

Imported wines are a different story. The French wine selection is very good with many of the big names offered. Excellent Champagnes from Dom at $170 to Deutz, Bollinger, Pol Roger and others. Same for Bordeaux;  most of the Grand Cru chateaux are included in the list of 400. You can purchase the 1986 Ch. Margaux ($845) or go with the’86 Ch. Mouton-Rothschild ($695).

No discounts among the Bordeaux  but a few are attractively priced such as the 2008 Ch. de Sales, Pomerol at $39 and the 2010 Chateau Taillefer Pomerol for $30. The best deal could be the 2011 Ch. Lafon Rochet for $20.

As you scroll through close to 50 pages of French wines, you’ll also encounter lots of Sauternes and a good selection of Rhone Valley reds. So if you prefer one-stop shopping, Amazon offers a wide selection of French and more than decent list of Italian wines.

For many imports, Amazon uses an outside company, European Wine Resources in Richmond, Ca, for warehousing and shipping. At last look, 680 wines on Amazon are stored here and this company is the official seller for those wines. It is an importer and its wines are stored under temperature controlled conditions.

It Yelps well.

And dealing with this guy: