Modern technology has improved our wine drinking experience in countless ways. We can record tasting notes and label images in applications on our phones. We can browse countless reviews online to decide which wine to try next, and then find the perfect pairing recipe once we’ve made our choice. Best of all, we can have wine shipped directly to our door.
Direct wine shipping can be a truly wonderful thing, but unfortunately it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Various state shipping laws, extreme weather, and an endless variety of product and shipping options can make the whole process a headache. But it doesn’t have to be. Below we tackle five common issues that can arise when purchasing wine online, and give you recommendations for how to work around them.
1. Needing to be there to sign for the package:
Law requires that any shipment of alcohol must be signed for by someone who is 21 or older. That makes sense in that it prevents people who are underage from ordering alcohol online, but it’s admittedly inconvenient for people who aren’t home during normal delivery hours. Thankfully there are options. Many online retailers (including yours truly) offer the option to save multiple ship-to addresses, meaning you can have the wine delivered to a location where you know a responsible person of legal age will be able to sign. If you can't be home, you can try your office or the home of a trusted neighbor or relative who will be available. If that’s not an option for you, most carriers will hold a package at a local distribution center if you call or use the carrier website to make a request to pick it up. Or if you’re willing to be patient, many retailers (again, yours truly included!) offer the option to select a preferred delivery date so you can schedule the shipment for a day you know you will be available to sign.
2. Different laws in different states:
Wine shipping laws vary from state to state. Some states only require the winery to have a shipping license, some states have quantity limits for each customer or household, and some forbid direct wine shipping altogether. If you order wine online frequently or decide to ship wine to someone as a gift, we recommend familiarizing yourself with a state’s regulations so you know what to expect. Do you live in a state with quantity limits? If you have reached your personal limit, you can usually ship more to a trusted friend, relative, or neighbor who will share with you. Does the state you’re attempting to ship to prohibit wine shipments altogether? Again, a friend or relative in another state with different laws should be able to receive the wine so that you can enjoy it next time you're together.
Last but not least, it’s important to remember that wine shipping laws are constantly evolving. If you are interested in learning more about specific state shipping laws and how you can help change them, FreeTheGrapes.org is a fantastic resource.
3. Extreme heat or cold:
There is much debate surrounding the topic of the ideal temperature in which to ship wine. Generally speaking, if the temperature is between 30 and 80 degrees wine should not be affected when shipped ground. But extreme heat or cold can pose a problem to wine shipping. If wine is left out in temperatures above 80 for a prolonged period of time, its aging characteristics can be altered and browning, or “cooking”, occurs. Extreme heat can also cause molecules in the bottle to expand and push the cork out of the bottle. That can also happen in extreme cold, but that means you've got a bigger problem on your hands – a frozen bottle of wine! Selecting a preferred delivery date may be your best bet if you’re in the middle of a heat wave or an ultra cold-snap. Alternatively, selecting next-day shipping can minimize the time your wine sits in extreme temperatures.
4. Cost of shipping:
Let’s face the facts: shipping wine isn’t cheap. The cost of shipping a single bottle of wine can sometimes cost more than the bottle itself! Thankfully, many online retailers offer discounted or free shipping one larger quantities. For example, here at 90+ Cellars we offer free shipping on orders over $250, which is usually between 1 and 2 cases, depending on the type of wine. So if you know what you like and are ready to stock up on several bottles at a time, the savings can be considerable.
5. Lack of guidance:
The options presented to a customer when purchasing wine online are literally endless. How do I find the best wine for my taste? How do I know I’m getting a good value? Should I join a wine club? What do other customers think about this wine? In a store, the shop owner or another associate is often readily available to help customers make their decisions. There may not be a person right in front of you, but many online retailers offer a wealth of information in the form of tasting notes, product recommendations, FAQs, and customer reviews. Still, every now and then a one-on-one conversation is just what you need to make a decision. If you have any questions about 90+ Cellars wine, our wine club, or even wine in general feel free to reach out to our Director of E-Commerce Caitlin at firstname.lastname@example.org. She's always happy to personally respond and help guide you in the right direction!
So next time you order wine online, keep these handy tips in mind to help make the whole process a breeze. After all, wine is all about relaxing and having fun.
Do you have any tips for customers looking to order wine online? Do you have any questions about wine shipping that we didn’t answer in this list? Let us know in the comments!