Yes I’m talking about Vivino, Winesearcher and the likes and of course you could argue that selling wine myself everything I’m going to write is biased. Well maybe it is, but do take the time to read through to come with your own idea.
Of course you can follow wine descriptions, opinions, pairings and such but the reason why most people use such tools is to follow and check prices. In an article published earlier this year in a local newspaper all the interviewees namely all the wine cellar / wine shop owners in the region answered that their customers don’t use those kind of apps stating that they are the source of knowledge. While this is a typical French answer I was the only one to say that yes these apps are used and people actually check wine details and prices even they don’t really do it openly. Then again I might be the only they do that with!
So are those apps and websites good or bad? Well to be perfectly honest I also tend to have a look at them and if they are used as tools, and just as with any tool you need to follow a user guide, then they actually are pretty good. You can find plenty of useful information, comments, reviews, pricing history, some suppliers, information on the maker, …
But, because there is a big BUT, with all that information you have to make sure you read it properly. Let’s go back to the information most people are looking at: Price and with price come potential suppliers around the world and of course small prints.
As an example, say you are searching for a Chablis 2014 from Domaine X. You get a list of prices and suppliers from France, Italy, England, Hong-Kong, Japan and the USA. The prices range from 8€ to 44€. Which for the same wine makes no sense and you will probably be looking at comparing the offer you are facing with the cheapest price thinking the shop owner with the same wine sold at 14€ taxes included is trying to rip you off.
Now read the small prints and click on the supplier and you will see that the price is for a 75cl bottle, taxes are not included and he is only selling to the trade (ie. wine shops, restaurants, retail shop, …). So 8€ with French taxes is 9,6€ and you cannot actually buy from him. So check if the supplier can actually sell to you.
The second best price is 10€ and it’s still from a French supplier, taxes are not included so that could still be a good deal at 12€ taxes included, shipment is included which is unusual and good but he’s not selling a 75cl bottle but a 37,5cl half bottle and all that is in the details you might not see. So check if you are comparing the same thing.
The third best offer is 13€, still a French supplier, all taxes are included, 75cl bottle, there is no mention of shipment cost so let’s assume it is offered. So you have a winner. Do click on the supplier and you end up on his site to discover that you only get a list of many many many different wines but the one you are looking for is not available nor is most of the selection. That’s what I call wine baiting. Advertising loads of different more or less rare and prestigious or sought after wines at good prices to make sure you will go to a site and hoping that if you can’t find your first request you might still buy something else. So check if the price, wine, vintage, conditions that are advertised are actually true.
The fourth offer is 13€ and everything adds up till you see that this price will be validated if you buy a case of 12 and pay for shipment if not price per bottle is 15€. So check if there are no conditions attached to the offers.
The list of things to check goes on and on and on but now you know that on apps and websites there is more to just the advertised price. Again apps and websites are amazing tools but take the time to read carefully and check all those tiny details to make sure you actually get the best offer (product, service and price mix) possible.