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SommelierCellar Blog

  • Buying Online

    It's hard to believe, but even ten years ago, hardly any of us bought anything online. Oh sure, websites were up and running and a fair percentage of us had access to the internet, but when it came to actually buying stuff, we preferred the high street or mail order.

    Partly this was a hang-over from the days of feeling that it wasn't a 'proper' purchase unless you had actually spoken to someone; partly it was a trust issue, that we weren't 100% confident about the security of filling in our bank details on a computer and firing them off into the ether. But largely it was a technology issue: internet connections were simply so slow and unreliable that browsing the net was intensely frustrating.

    Broadband, Amazon and ebay, though have changed all that. I'd guess that almost everyone under the age of 50 bought something online over the last 12 months, and I know a good few people who, like me, did their entire Christmas shop sitting at home with a large glass of Aussie Cabernet in their hand.

    Wine was fairly slow to take off online. But the last five years have seen a real explosion of websites. It's not just the supermarkets and high street retailers who sell online, but local merchants and a growing number of specialists (like Sommeliercellar) who don't have a physical outlet at all.

    The massive advantage of the latter type of 'online specialist' operations is that, with no bricks and mortar to pay for, their overheads are far lower and their prices, as a result, tend to be keener; it's the reason that Amazon is cheaper than Waterstones.

    The difference between buying a book and a bottle of wine, of course, is that when buying a book, you know what you're getting. So how do you get that same level of confidence when buying wine?

    Answer: you go with people whose recommendations you trust. This could be a journalist who writes for a national paper. But the disadvantage these columnists have is that they tend to be limited in their recommendations to wines that are available in the supermarkets. And the most interesting wines are, for the most part, made by smaller growers, who don't produce sufficient volumes to interest the likes of Tesco, Asda et al.

    This is the thinking behind Sommelier cellar. The people choosing the wine offers are two absolutely top class sommeliers and myself. Between us we've got decades of experience, and with our helpful, no-nonsense descriptions of the bottles, it means you can pick with confidence.

    The wines that we're selecting are really top quality, and they're not available on the high street. And with low overheads, it means you get great deals.

    So crack open a bottle, fire up the laptop and get choosing!

    Thursday, 19 August 2010 17:04:29 Europe/London