Buying wine online for the first time can be tricky. It should be as easy as ordering from Amazon, but if you’re new to the game, it can feel a lot more intimidating. But rest assured, it doesn’t have to be and that’s why we’ve got you covered with a quick insider guide to the top things you need to know about buying wine online.
1. Flash Sellers Are Your Friend
Flash wine sites are a fantastic opportunity to find a great wine at a great price. The website purchases discounted wine in bulk, usually direct from the winery. The winery (or distributor) may be looking to unload excess supply or to establish a relationship with the site for future overstock sales. Those sites then turn around and sell the wine through flash sales at prices you’ll never find if you go straight to the winery or attempt to buy it online through a full service wine site.
To generate excitement and demand, the flash wine site will focus on selling a single wine at a time (or a handful of curated wines). When supply runs out, they’ll list a new bottle. (Hot Tip: Even if a wine is no longer available on the site, it is worth reaching out to the site directly. Sometimes they have an extra stash from orders that didn’t get fulfilled or they might be able to get their hands on more bottles. This is where searching Wine Bounty’s “Past Deals” page can be handy.)
With that said, it’s important that you know what flash sales are and aren’t so you can make the best choice for you.
2. Free Shipping Is Key
Flash sale sites often require you to purchase a minimum number of bottles to get free shipping and the number of bottles required can change with the offering. The cheaper the wine, the more bottles may be required (say 4-6 bottles). If it’s a pricier wine, you may get free shipping from the first bottle. So, always check the shipping requirement, it can save you big bucks. (Hot Tip: If you don’t want 4-6 bottles of a single wine, set up a small network of friends where you can purchase together, split the allotment, and still get free shipping.)
3. Marathon Sales Bring Even Bigger Savings
Flash sale sites get overstock too, so pay attention for what they call “Marathon Sales”. Here, the website will list a new bottle every few minutes throughout the day. There could be a theme such as format (e.g., magnums), varietal (e.g., sparkling wines), or price point (e.g., bottles under $20), or it simply could be a way of reducing inventory across-the-board. Typically, you’ll get free shipping on 6-12 bottles but they let you pick-and-choose bottles throughout the day to make up the minimum requirement. Marathon sales do not happen often, but when they do the site will list bottles at an even deeper discount than normal. It’s a great way to restock your cellar or purchase wine for an upcoming event.
4. Your Email/Texts May Blow Up
Because most flash sale sites do not list new wine offerings on a predictable basis, they will encourage you to subscribe to their email/text lists where they announce new wines and other upcoming news/events. While subscribing to your favorite site or two is highly encouraged, if you get click happy and subscribe to every great flash sale site out there, you’ll soon find your inbox exploding with new offers every few minutes. This can get annoying and if you do not have unlimited text messaging, it can get expensive. That’s where Wine Bounty can come in handy. We list the top flash sale sites on our homepage with each site’s current offering. No need to get bombarded with emails; simply refresh Wine Bounty and you’ll see all current wines available. All you need to do then is click the offer that interests you and it’ll take you right to that retailer so you can purchase.
5. Not All Flash Sale Sites Are Created Equal
There are A LOT of sites out there offering wine for sale and do so in their own creative way and with a particular focus. The same is true for the niche market of sites dedicated to flash sales. Below is a list of flash sale sites that we’ve tried and love. Over time they have offered consistently good deals and the purchase and shipping process has been relatively hassle free. Of course, this list is constantly evolving and as it does, we’ll be sure to update this post. Happy hunting!
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