Five wine websites that let your fingers do the shopping
By Maren Tarro
There are some people that are just a pain in the ass to shop for: Your boss who’s having a midlife crisis, the Stepford-like neighbor who just invited you to a politically correct “holiday” party, or a second cousin, twice removed, whose presence is gracing yours out of the blue. Some already have everything, some don’t like anything and some you really don’t know that well. Too bad. You still have to get them something. And the gift for casual acquaintances or for that special wino in your life is just a mouse click away.
Wine is easier to shop for online than you might think. Many vendors have ratings and detailed descriptions to help you confidently purchase a bottle you'll be proud of. You can also find some incredibly deep discounts.
Vinfolio.com provides reviews from its own experts as well as notes from Wine Spectator and other reliable publications. When your snooty, loosely related recipients unwrap a bottle of 2005 Usseglio, Pierre & Fils Chateauneuf du Pape ($24) you can tell them that after you read of this wine’s brilliance—that these “cuvées were among the very finest wines of that challenging and irregular year”—in Wine Advocate, you immediately knew it was perfect for them.
Wineaccess.com treats buyers to special discounts and shipping deals if you become a website member. You'll also receive e-mails detailing rare and hard-to-find wines. Nothing makes that not-so-special someone feel oh-so special when you tell them that only 150 cases of Lamiable Brut NV ($49.98) were imported into the United States. Owning one of 1,800 bottles in the country is appealing even to those who can’t tell Champagne from Champale.
Wine.com provides categories such as “Top Selling Wine Under $20” and “Most Popular Cabernet Sauvignon.” You can then further narrow your search by region or rating. Even easier is its selection of gift baskets that contain everything from consumables to knickknacks. The prices range from the $29.99 "Gourmet Wine and Cheese Board" to the "Super Grand Gourmet" at $249.
If money is indeed an object, then type Brownderby.com into your address bar. This site is renowned for being chock-full of amazing deals. Brown Derby International Wine Center was named one of "America's Top Wine Shops" in Food & Wine Magazine's Official Wine Guide 2000. You can purchase the Wine Advocate 90 point-rated 2006 Foxglove Chardonnay for a mere $14.99.
For the true connoisseur that you are genuinely fond of, direct your attention to 2020wines.com. Twenty-Twenty Wine Merchants was founded by Robert Parker, Jr., who drew his inspiration from a sip of a 1947 Petrus. He now supplies a rather distinguished clientele from sources that total more than a million bottles. While Twenty-Twenty does include a good selection of bargain wines, it’s better known for its stock of 98-100 point vintages. If the 1961 Château Lafite-Rothschild at $1,595 is a little too rich for your blood, then perhaps you'll find a Rubicon Estate Cabernet Blend ($135) more palatable.
Take advantage of the counsel freely given by Internet sources—and the prices—as you select the perfect present for both the loved and the dreaded on your shopping list this season.
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