No one could have anticipated 2020, or how it would impact our lives, from our relationships to even how we enjoy a glass of Merlot.
But, amidst predictions that the wine industry would suffer, good fortune shined in one area: e-commerce wine sales, both from wine subscription services and big-name retailers like Wine.com.
In review, Wine.com’s sales increased 119 percent, for a total of $328 million for the fiscal year. Not only did Wine.com enjoy a boost in sales, but also engagement, with more active users online, ordering products, or engaging in some way.
And while Wine.com is known as an online go-to for buying individual bottles of wine by the variety and by region, it even enjoyed success with its subscription service, with a jaw-dropping increase of 149 percent, compared with the year before.
While there’s no doubt that Wine.com is enjoying success right now, I wanted to know if it’s really a good option, both for a wine delivery service and a wine subscription service.
In this review, I’ll guide you through everything you need to know about Wine.com as a company; what products they carry; details about their subscription service, and terms and policies.
Will this review of Wine.com prove this should be your go-to for wine, or that you should seek out a competitor wine delivery service?
Read on to find out.
What is Wine.com?
If you’ve ever searched for a specific wine –whether that’s Chenin Blanc or a fruity Moscato-chances are that you’ve come across Wine.com. In fact, as the largest online seller of wine, it would be hard not to.
Wine.com is based in San Francisco and sells an estimated two million-plus bottles of wine in an average year and ships within the United States. At any given time. Wine.com’s inventory of wine exceeds 17,000 bottles, all from different regions, with great variety.
How it Started
Wine.com began under the name of Virtual Vineyards in Los Altos, California in 1994, though their first bottle was sold in January of 1995. The co-founders included an architect and a professional sommelier, but the company was later bought under a new name, the current name, Wine.com for a price of around 10 million dollars.
Situated in San Francisco now, Wine.com has undergone several shifts in management but its trajectory as a leading online wine retailer has been clear for some time.
Wine.com is now owned by Baker Capital, an equity firm based in New York.
What services does Wine.com offer?
Wine.com has many services and ways to purchase wine, likely taking on both wine delivery a la carte services like Drizzly, as well as wine apps like Vivino and traditional wine subscription services like FirstLeaf.
And the number of options can be overwhelming, but, of course, make Wine.com anyone’s go-to place for all of their wine needs.
The Wine.com wine app, available for IOS and Android, allows you to scan and rate bottles of wine for personal recommendations, meant to be used both with their wine subscription service but also with browsing their online retail store.
To use it, you scan a wine or liquor bottle’s label. The app will bring up information, including availability, pricing, ratings by professionals, and signature aromas and flavors.
Reviews come from large publications as well, such as Wine Enthusiast, The Wine Advocate, and Wine Spectator.
Other features include online chat; searching by variety, type, and other preferences; and customer support. With a tool called MyWine, your rated bottles then bring up personal recommendations, which drive their subscription model.
There is much to admire about Wine.com’s Wine App. I love the ability to easily scan the bottle of my choice and instantly rate and pull up all the information I need to understand what other wines I may enjoy.
In this way, this app is perfect for getting a sense for what your personal tastes and must-haves are. I do also love the ease of use, even for someone who is new to wine apps.
However, there are some notable downsides to the Wine.com wine app. For one, it’s driven by expert reviews as well–I’d love to see more customer reviews of wine be integrated into the app system. The bigger concern, however, is customer service.
While experiences vary, most consumers also love the app itself, but there have been many instances of communication problems–being shipped different wines, or, when assigned to a professional, finding that the recommended wines are not as accurate as the app itself.
Wine Retail Store
The biggest draw to Wine.com is its online retail store. With over 17,000 wine bottles ready to ship at any time, there truly is a wine for everyone. Wine is delivered right to your door, making it a practical option for many who cannot, or do not feel comfortable, shopping in physical stores.
To start your order, you can search for wine by variety or region. Advanced filters allow you to navigate by price, average rating, size and type, and what professional reviewed that wine.
I love how easy it is to find what you’re looking for, with what would otherwise be an enormously overwhelming experience.
In addition, you can filter to vintage only wines, as well as a category of ‘fine wines’. There are curated selections using the ‘Discover’ tab. The Discover tab features highly rated wines; special deals and bundles; bottle size, and a slew of resources and articles to learn more about different wine regions and varieties.
Finally, Gifts includes gift sets based upon different themes, regions, and ratings. These are not necessarily less expensive, but they are a great way to put together wine for someone without you having to hand-select each bottle.
Once you select wine, you’ll be taken to a detail page about the wine. It’s one of the best in terms of supplying as much information as you could possibly need. As is the case with its wine app, their website provides the following:
- Wine label and year
- Professional scores and ratings
- Winemaker tasting and aroma notes
- Critical reviews
- Vineyard history, details, and information
Shipping and Delivery
After you select your wine, you have two options: delivery to your door, or to a physical store near you. Shipping is available to mostly FedEx and Walgreens locations, as well as homes, to states that do not have restrictions of wine delivery.
Shipping fees vary depending on your location and order but will be disclosed as you check out. Customers can track their orders online, or chat with customer service.
You can get free shipping through the Stewardship Program, a year-long membership program that costs $49 a year to all states aside from Hawaii and Alaska. You can also select expedited shipping at an extra cost.
Refunds and Customer Service
One thing I do like about Wine.com, compared to other wine delivery companies, is that their policies are detailed when it comes to damaged and missing packages or other issues that may arise with delivery and shipping.
For damaged packages or missing items, you submit a statement and will be credited with a refund or credit. If you receive the wrong wine bottle, you should keep it, as someone will schedule for it to be picked up.
The murky area is if you don’t enjoy the wine taste, or disagree with your recommendations– however they state that representatives will ‘work with you’ in order to ‘resolve the issue’. Items may be reshipped if a delivery is missed.
Overall, there’s a lot to love, on the first impression, by the wine selection on Wine.com. I love the advanced filters, helpful for both avid wine consumers and someone who knows relatively little about wine.
By supplying tasting notes, detailed information about the vineyard, and reviews, it’s far easier to make an informed decision. I also appreciate the detailed shipping and refund policies.
Ways to improve the experience would be to add customer ratings and reviews, as well as additional delivery options.
Wine Subscription Service
As I mentioned before, Wine.com also allows you to sign up for a subscription service. The main concept is that you’ll be shipped wine based on your own recommendations and guided also by a professional.
A wine subscription service saves you the trouble of hand-selecting your own bottles, and has the potential to allow you to discover wine you may not have otherwise tried.
Picked, their wine subscription service works in conjunction with their app. If you like the wine app, you may like their subscription service, but it goes the other way as well.
Step One: Personal Preferences Quiz
You’ll start by taking a short quiz indicating both your wine preferences and desired price point per bottle, which starts at $15 per bottle and goes up.
Questions include: how experienced of a wine drinker you are; whether you prefer red wine, white wine, or a combination of both; and also questions that ask you to rate specific wine types.
Step Two: Select Shipping Frequency
Within the quiz, you’ll be asked to select your shipping frequency. You can opt to receive deliveries every month, every two months, or every three months. From there, you’ll be given a sample first order and be directed to create an account
Shipping and handling are free, and there are no service fees. You won’t be paying a flat fee per month, but rather, a fee-based upon the specific wine bottles that you receive.
Bottles are selected for you based upon your profile, which you can improve with the more wines you rate on the wine app. From there, a professional is assigned to select bottles for you.
You can cancel and change your subscription at any time and receive six bottles at a time. If you really don’t like a wine, there’s also an option to be credited for a refund or replacement,
While not as detailed as it could be, the personal quiz is a great first step to more curated choices. I like that your wine is selected not just based upon an algorithm, but guided by your own ratings.
I also cannot complain about the selection of wines, refund policies, or relative subscription flexibility. As a whole, I’m impressed by what Wine.com’s Picked subscription has to offer, but I would like to see a little more wiggle room in selecting your own bottles if you like.
Is Wine.com wine any good?
Even if you love Wine.com’s app, subscription model, or other options, it’s also important to take a look at wine quality. The good news that, with the largest online inventory, you’ll have seemingly countless options, from price to region to variety and ratings.
Select from white, red, and sparkling wines. You’ll have options as diverse as Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Barbera and Syrah for red wine; Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Gris for white wine; and Champagne and Rose, but there are truly too many varieties to name. From dessert wines to very dry or brut wines, there really is something for everyone.
Looking for wine from a specific region? On Wine.com you can find wine from France, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Germany, Greece, Chile, South Africa, Brazil, Canada, China, Croatia, Mexico, Israel, and countless more, as well as American and Californian wines.
Fine wine includes signature collectibles; boutiques and vintages, from around the world. There’s even a selection of Bordeaux future vintages, a rare find.
Pricing and Overall Selection
As a whole, Wine.com simply cannot beat not only in sheer inventory but also in quality. You can find everything from $15 bottles of wine to bottles exceeding hundreds of dollars.
Every wine comes from a designated vineyard, and while they vary in quality, you always have the full information as to what you’re getting.
There are also counted options for wine rated with 90 points and above, both expensive and more affordable. While there are so many smaller batch options, Wine.com does not specialize in small-batch or artisan wine.
The biggest downside for me is buying from them vs directly through local vineyards, and, though a plus in some aspects, it can be a bit overwhelming by the sheer number of wines to sort through.
Can I trust Wine.com?
If you’re ordering from Wine.com, just like with any site, you want to know if you’ll be getting proper customer service.
While I was initially excited about what the website had to offer, the service gave me pause. On Better Business Bureau, Wine.com was an unofficial rating of aD based on customer reviews. On TrustPilot, it averaged just 1.4 out of 5 stars.
The most common complaints were about missing and damaged deliveries, rather than wine itself. Many customers claimed that they were never properly refunded.
Answer: There are also specialty options depending on your needs. Drizly offers wine delivery within an hour, while Naked Wines features more signature small-batch wine.
Answer: You can cancel any order on wine.com by sending an email to [email protected]. You’ll be asked to supply your order number. In the subject line of the email, also provide the reason (Delayed / Damaged Missing) followed by the order number.
Whether you’re ordering online to sign up for a subscription service like Palate Club or are looking to buy directly, there are a few things you need to keep in mind for safe online ordering.
Always make sure you’re buying from a secure site and that they use encryption for processing your order. I also recommend looking at professional reviews and educating yourself about their policies regarding refunds and cancellations.
Decision: Order with Caution
While I love much what is offered here, from sheer selection to price and even features, I cannot fully recommend ordering a subscription. It seems that many complaints are tied to larger orders or subscriptions.
If you do want to try Wine.com, I recommend opting for a single bottle of wine and seeing how it goes–this is a low risk way to try. Read below for some of my recommendations for the best wine to buy, as well as an alternative to Wine.com.
Best Wines to Buy
100 Point Wine
Château Pontet-Canet 2016
Priced under two hundred dollars, this signature premium fine wine comes from Bordeaux and features an intention and luxurious blend of rich fruit, with crisp structure.
Black currants marry with crème de cassis, blueberry pie, and candied flowers. Layered, complex, and supple with tannins, it’s a truly elegant wine. Buy Here.
94 Point Wine
Duckhorn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
From Napa Valley comes a lush blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and just a bit of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, with black fruit and chocolate.
Mint, and clove, and cardamom spices provide some unexpected lift and zest. With bright, the tannins provide structure and carry through both spicy and fruity flavors. Buy Here.
90 Point Wine
Craggy Range Winery Te Muna Road Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2019
At under twenty dollars per bottle, this highly affordable white wine from New Zealand features bright citrus notes, with tangy orange and grapefruit. Stone fruit and green undertones make this great paired with cheese or appetizers. Buy Here.
Looking for an alternative to Wine.com? Check out reviews about wine delivery services here.