I don't order wine online, though I have friends who do. Instead, I prefer the challenge, the thrill of going into a (or any) wine store and walking through aisle after aisle looking for just the right bottle(s) of wine. I may have a specific idea about a particular wine or a particular country or region that I want to try or I may not. I like variety in my wine purchases. And as I teach a wine tasting class, I try to make sure I stay abreast of the changes in wines, vineyards, importers, etc. Well, NOT all changes. A change here or there keeps me busy enough. I have 2 websites that I use quite regularly and which are very helpful in my effort to stay current on wine.
I just recieved my email notice from Wine.com with links to wines that are rated 90+ from Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate/Robert Parker and Wine and Spirits. The best part is that it is a list of wines that cost less than $20.00 and many are in the $8-$12.00 range! There are 16 pages with 10 wines per page. Count them, I did; that's 160 bottles of wine for less than $20.00 each with a rating of 90+ or better. You can query the list for your review by price (low to high/high to low) or by winery A-Z/Z-a) or by ratings or by most popular.
I typically print these wine listing pages. Yes, all 16 of them. Then I spend several enjoyable hours reviewing the list. I highlight the wines I have tried and the ones I want to try. I use this list to plan my wine tasting classes, also. I have been known to take the printouts into the store with me as I wander the aisles in search of my latest wine discovery.
Naturally, there is a wine.com price if you want to order online. Wine.com is ranked #1 in online websales for 2006 and wins praises for its online presence routinely. There prices are not necessarily the same as you would pay at home, depending on your 'market area (urban/rural)' and your wine store's buying power, but they are not extremely different for the most part. Comparing prices is an activity for another time.
This website is also rich in many other resources with many pages of information on how-to understand wine and how to tast wine, It provide links to several well respected wine magazines. Wine Lover's also has extensive lists of wines by country and by 'grape'.
Any weaknesses, you ask? I guess the fact that it is as commercial as any other website with most of the space on the homepage filled with the business of 'selling' wine clubs, baskets, and other wine related paraphanalia. But that's business on the web, is it not? And while this website is rich in resources, the home page only gives you a glimpse of the resources buried within, so some searching is required and you have to know the question/language you want to ask. A 'newbie' wine taster can get overwhelmed and tired reading through the resources. I recommend that do your reading and studying in small segments.
Wine Lovers Page
Where do I begin to tell you about my absolute most favorite wine-related webpage resource? First, note the links on the left hand side of the home page; note their detail and organization. Again, another website rich in resources but the listings are clearer, with more options. This group has numerous contributing authors, has online video, and has recently begun to podcast!
This website also provides a list of wines (annually) that have been reviewed by Garr. This list is organized by several price points, including wines that cost LESS than $12.00 a bottle. While the list is not nearly as comprehensive as wine.com's, these wines have been tasted and reviewed by R. Garr. Finally, there is a vintage chart link that is most fascinating! These charts only cover 1980-1998, but click here for vintage listings, in a non table format, that includes an excellent vintage year, 2003.
I am particularly partial to the 30 second wine advisor e-letter (See e-letter option on left hand side of Wine Lover's home page). I have been receiving this email several times a week for, I think, the better part of 2 years, perhaps longer? Its the one email that I don't discontinue when I do a review of my overloaded mailbox. I find useful information in Garr's emails EVERY week. I save the emails and later go through to either discard or make notes or print the ones I want to follow up on. The information is presented quickly re: an overview of some aspect of wine and then a particular wine is reviewed.
Weakness(es) for this site? I know there must be a few, but I can't think of even one at this moment. Unless, we talk about the difficulty in keeping a website of this type and depth current?
Happy Wine Tasting to you,