How to Buy Wine Online

It’s not as simple as you think, but it’s totally worth it

Do you buy things online and are starting to wonder if you should buy wine online, too? The answer is probably yes (even if you prefer buying from your local wine shop). Here’s everything you need to know to be a savvy wine shopper online.

FYI: I find great wine deals so you don’t have to. To keep me on the hunt, I earn a commission when you buy wine based on my recommendations.

Why buy wine online

The Dreaded Wall of Wine The dreaded wall of wine at the store (although this wine store somewhere in Italy looks fascinating). Photo by brandy turner on Unsplash.
  1. You can access a much bigger variety of wine online than in local stores
  2. You can (usually) get better deals
  3. You won’t be put on the spot about what kind of wine you’re looking for
  4. Your budget is your business, not a store clerk’s
  5. Ordering online — even for store pickup — is more convenient than shopping in person during regular business hours

See all my nitty gritty details about the top 5 reasons to buy wine online (and where to shop).

Caveats to buying wine online

Slow down and make sure you understand all of this before you buy. Photo by Daniel Monteiro on Unsplash.

Wine is alcohol, and as such a lot of people in this country want to control how it gets sold. After the Prohibition of Alcohol was repealed, way back in 1933, many legal structures were put in place to make it difficult to buy alcohol (for our safety and decency, of course), that still exist today (so certain monopolistic alcohol distribution companies can stay really really rich).

So having wine sent directly to your home (what the industry calls Direct to Consumer or DTC) isn’t always straightforward. I break out all of the gotchas in my wine delivery guide, but you should skip straight to the bit about your state using the dropdown selector below. If you’re sending wine to someone else, select their state.

When you clear the delivery hurdles (which most people do), you might not be able to buy every wine you want to, even in your state.

For example, carries thousands of bottles of wine located in warehouses all over the US, but if you live in Michigan the wines you can order are different from the wines you can order if you live in Illinois or California.

This is why it makes sense to buy from certain online retailers more than others. Some offer the same stock to everyone and some ship to more states than others.

Ways to buy wine online

There are several different ways to approach buying wine online, and they all depend a bit on why you’re buying wine in the first place.

#1 Buy when you need (or want) it

There’s a statistic (without a source) running around the Internet that claims Americans drink 98% of their wine within 24 hours of purchase. I’ve seen a pile of variations to this, but the point is always the same — we buy it when we plan to drink it.

Sonoma State University performed a study in 2018 that included this question (specifically referring to the purchase of a bottle of wine) and they found that 90% of Americans drank their wine within two weeks of purchase. I personally find these statistics amazing.

If this is you, it turns out you’re in good company. If you typically grab a bottle or two at the grocery store while you’re doing your weekly shopping, then I suspect the main reason you’re shopping online is to get better prices or to stock up (or both). Definitely do a little comparison shopping and check out deals for first-time customers with online wine stores, especially

#2 Buy wine in batches so there’s always something on hand

Wine bottles and glasses on a service tray For your bevie cart. Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash.

There are two ways to do this with online shopping. There’s the somewhat obvious “kid in a candy store” method where you pore over the inventory at an incredible wine store like Wine Access or Millesima and fill up a box of twelve wines with that look enticing.

You could also choose a pre-packed wine sampler (typically themed, but sometimes a mystery case). My top picks for companies offering samplers are: Gold Medal Wine Club (California wine), Plonk Wine Club (organic and natural), Organic Wine Exchange (organic, biodynamic, and more), Roscioli (Italian wine, direct from Rome), and (a big variety, some of which include video tasting experiences). Tip: these also make great gifts.

Pro tip: sign up for interesting stores’ email lists. They’ll send you deals on the regular so you can save from the very beginning. Also, I highlight many first-time customer discounts on my wine delivery pages.

#3 Buy wine by subscription for the best price (without a lot of research)

You may have noticed the name of this site, While I now help people buy wine online in all kinds of ways, I started with, and focus on, wine clubs. Not all wine clubs offer great value (or the biggest discounts), but there are some top-notch options for every budget.

Not sure if a wine club is right for you? Try my Useful Wine Guide, Are wine clubs worth it? or explore wine clubs in-depth.

Pro tips to save the most on delivery costs: upgrade to 12 bottles and get them shipped as often as you need. These are my top picks for saving money by joining a wine club:

The Sunset Magazine Wine Club. Top tier curation — Sunset Magazine editorial staff partners with the incredible Wine Access wine team. Focus on food-friendly wines from California, Washington, and Oregon. You pay $20 a bottle with free shipping for six wines per quarter. You pay a $40 monthly deposit and purchase wine whenever you want. They only carry their own, but have hundreds of different wines available at any one time and loads of tools to make selecting your wine easy. Prices range from $9-90 and orders with six or more bottles ship free.

Firstleaf. Fairly customizable, but the base membership is $90/shipment for six bottles. You choose how often you receive them. An algorithm learns your preferences and makes recommendations for new wines accordingly. You can swap out some bottles if you don’t want to try the recommendations. Shipping is extra.

The Case Club. Only working with small family wineries, primarily in California, The California Wine Club offers their best prices via their Case Club. Get three each of four different wines each quarter at half off the normal prices offered by The California Wine Club. $170 a quarter plus $25 for shipping and handling.

Note: a lot of wine clubs have a bad rep. Those wine clubs have earned those reputations through deceptive marketing practices and selling mediocre (or worse) wine. My wine club reviews can help you avoid the stinkers and focus on the hidden gems.

#4 Buy wine via other kinds of shopping services

Sexy wine bottles. Photo by SommSelect.

Wine sellers are a crafty bunch and there are some rather interesting alternatives to traditional wine stores and wine clubs to get your wine. Here are some interesting ones to explore, even if you’re only getting their emails to learn more about wine.

SommSelect. A “wine of the day” site where the wines are curated by a team led by one of the sommeliers made famous by the movie SOMM, Ian Cauble. Every wine is pitched as some truly amazing rare find. Many of them can be purchased elsewhere for cheaper. They have some extra features and a six-bottle wine club, too.

Last Bottle, Last Bubbles, Garagiste, Wines til Sold Out, Invino, CaseMates, and WineText are all flavors of the same concept — some amazing wine their buyers managed to procure for some astounding discount through a combination of luck and industry prowess. The first six services send you emails to inform you of the daily wine, the last one sends you text messages (and is owned by Wine Library, which helped Gary Vaynerchuk get famous).

Underground Cellar has their whole own thing going on. It’s kind of like a wine lottery. Essentially you agree to pay a “base price” for a selection of wines that fit some theme (like Sonoma County Pinot Noir). They provide a list of every possible wine in the mix and charge you for the cheapest one. You get a random assortment of wines from the list. The lottery part is that some of the wines on the list might be quite expensive and culty. You could end up paying $30 for a $300 wine. Or you could end up paying $30 for a $30 wine. It’s a fun mix of ordering wine samplers and gambling.

Caution: these services all rely on the manipulative technique of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out on a great price or exclusive wine) to get you to buy and they send A LOT of email.

#5 Send a gift of wine

All of the above methods work great for sending wine to yourself or someone else as a gift. Two super important things to remember when buying a gift of wine online:

  1. All of the caveats that apply above also apply, so choose carefully and maybe choose a gift card for a great online store or winery. Don’t forget to check that the store delivers to your recipient’s state, because gift cards are usually non-refundable.
  2. You can’t purchase wine locally, box it up yourself, and ship it to anyone else.

How to get wine when you order online

There are a few different ways you may take possession of your wine when you order online. Usually you will not get to choose which delivery service you use. Some awesome wine stores let you pick FedEx or UPS or other choices listed below when you check out.

All of these methods require someone 21 or older to sign for the packages.

Common Carrier delivery services.

This is an industry term which we tend to think of as “delivery companies.” It includes FedEx, UPS, and regional delivery companies like GSO. These services can deliver to your home, your place of work, to one of their own storefronts (FedEx Office or The UPS Store), or to one of their delivery partners like Walgreens, Duane Reade, and Michael’s.

Local delivery and same-day delivery services.

I’ve grouped these together because they all offer a smaller delivery window than the Common Carrier companies — typically 1-2 hours (or less). Local delivery is often managed by the store you buy from (like Total Wine or BevMo!), while there are a number of third-party same-day delivery services (Uber Eats, Saucey, Instacart, etc.). This category also includes grocery delivery via Amazon Prime and whatever local grocery stores you like to buy at. They each operate differently, but the result is the same — you can get your wine delivered to you on the same day.

Order online, pick up in store.

There aren’t that many places where you can do this, but they do exist and are the right solution for some folks. I like that stores offer this flexible option. Total Wine and BevMo! are the most widely available booze stores offering this service, but you’ll find many local wine shops allow you to pick up in store and save a delivery fee, too.

And, the flip side to where you can get your wine, here’s where you can’t:

Note: one reason many people don’t order wine online is the perception that shipping is expensive. While shipping wine costs a lot of money for the retailers and wine clubs, they don’t all pass the cost on to their customers. Many offer free shipping deals either for new customers, or for all orders over a certain size (total money spent or number of bottles).

Where to buy wine online

When you buy wine online, you can choose between wineries, wine stores, wine deal sites, and wine clubs.

Which is the best website for buying wine?

The answer to this question depends entirely on what kind of wine you want to buy and what kind of information you want before you buy. I recommend:

But why visit each one when you can shop them all at once? Check out my new Automagic Wine Finder which lets you shop all of these wine stores (and more) at once.

Also... Wineries. The one group of wine sellers who has managed to make the most headway in easy wine delivery are wineries (because they have lobbying groups like FreeTheGrapes and The Wine Institute working on their behalf). You can order wine from almost any winery and have it delivered to almost any state except: Delaware, Mississippi, and Utah. There are restrictions in other states like Rhode Island, New Jersey, Indiana, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Alaska. And there are still Dry Communities sprinkled throughout most other states. Wineries tend to offer delivery via Common Carrier or local pick-up if you live nearby.

There are many wineries who sell online (most real wineries do). Here are a few to check out:

Wine stores

Wine Access Wine Access. This is, by far, my favorite online wine store. This isn’t a place to grab your next bottle of YellowTail, La Marca, or The Prisoner, rather it’s the best place to find interesting, well-made wines from benchmark producers around the world. Shop current releases, back vintages, and aged wine direct from the winery. Prices range from $12 to $3000 per bottle. Wine Access also has a number of great wine clubs to join and has time-limited offers. Common carrier only.

All orders over $150 ship free. All wine clubs ship free. No codes needed.

Wine access ships to AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, LA, MA, MD, ME, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY

Total Wine Total Wine. While it’s not the easiest place to shop for wine, they have a huge inventory and hundreds of physical stores around the country. They regularly offer deals for both new and existing customers on their Winery Direct wines (a huge selection) and other booze, too. Common carrier, local delivery, and in-store pick-up.

Total Wine has stores in, or can deliver to, these states. Selection will vary by your location. AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, MN, MO, NC, NJ, NV, NY, NY, TN, TX, VA, WA The largest online-only retailer of wine in the US, their pricing is fair and their best discounts are reserved for existing customers. They offer a Wine Stewardship program which lets you pay in advance for “free shipping” the rest of the year (like Amazon Prime). When it comes to variety, this is a terrific place to shop but they don’t carry anything especially obscure and they don’t make it easy to find wines without a lot of scrolling. Common carrier only.

First time customers save on Picked by (their wine club) with code PICK50. ships to these states. Selection will vary by your location. AK, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, LA, MA, MD, MN, MO, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY

Organic Wine Exchange Organic Wine Exchange. The best place to buy organic wine online that I’ve seen. They carry a huge selection (mostly under $30) from around the world and make it easy to find what you’re looking for, like: Biodynamic, Dry farmed, Fair for Life, GMO free, Low sugar, Natural, No Sulfites Added, Vegan, Under 13% alcohol, Non-alcoholic, and 90+ points. Since every wine they carry is organic, you don’t need to check the bona fides of anything you find on their site. Common carrier and local pick-up in the Palm Springs area.

Get $10 off your $100+ order with code LOVEWINE10 or save $30 on your first three organic wine club shipments with code WC10X3

Organic Wine Exchange ships to AK, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY

Plonk Wine Club Plonk Wine Club. A great source for off-the-beaten-track wines made in earth-friendly ways. Their site says all of the wines are natural, but that’s a loaded term and there’s no standard definition for it. Regardless, they have a reputation for picking wine from great producers and unusual grapes or styles. Buy by the bottle or choose from themed samplers and mystery boxes. Six bottle minimum order comes with free shipping. They also have some cool food and wine gifts and a wine club. Common carrier only.

Save $10 on your first shipment of the Plonk wine club with code SUBSCRIBE10

Plonk Wine Club ships to AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY

The California Wine ClubGold Medal Wine Club The California Wine Club & Gold Medal Wine Club. While their names say they’re wine clubs, they both offer online stores that anyone can shop. If you are interested in shopping from a variety of small California wineries, the kind that don’t have multi-state distribution and almost never show up in wine shops, these are your starting points. They curate wines for their memberships and buy other inventory, too. It’s a great way to get to know some California’s “other” wine regions — like Paso Robles, Sta. Rita Hills, and the better producers in Lodi. Inventory changes frequently, so check back often if you don’t see anything of interest on your first visit. Common carrier only.

The California Wine Club offers regular deals. Get the latest on their Premier Series club or use code WCRHALF to save 50% (on the wine) on your first shipment on any of their upper level clubs. Shipping is extra.

The California Wine Club ships to AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, LA, MA, MD, ME, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY

Gold Medal Wine Club ships to AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, LA, MA, MD, ME, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY

Millesima Millesima. This is the best place to buy fine French wine online. They’re among the few hundred approved negociants who are allowed by law to buy directly from Bordeaux chateaux. They store wine in their own massive cellar for years and ship wine to the US either when you order it or when they’re going to run a big promotion. You buy from their US retail arm whether the inventory is already here or is coming from overseas on preorder. They offer Bordeaux Futures, have an incredible selection of aged wine from all over France, including Burgundy and Champagne, and also branch out to other regions. Common carrier, local delivery, and in-store pickup in Manhattan.

First time customers save 10% on orders with code SHAREASALE10

Millesima ships to AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, GA, IA, ID, KS, LA, MN, MO, NC, ND, NE, NV, NY, OH, OR, SC, SD, VA, WA, WI

Buy Wines Online BuyWinesOnline. This online-only store, it turns out, is very popular among my readers! They carry a lot of the widely-distributed well-known wines and do a good job of discounting their inventory. If you prefer paying less than retail for wine, this is a great place to keep on your radar. It’s also a great store to know about if you want to get to know a handful of wines that are available at many restaurants: they have daily deals on wines like Caymus, Bonanza, and other bold red wines. Common carrier only.

Buy Wines Online currently does not ship alcohol to AK, AL, HI, MI, MS, UT

Buying aged wine online

Aged wine bottles

If you are a collector and you want to buy aged wine you buy it at auction. You can wait for a formal auction house like Sotheby’s Wine & Spirits or a well-known wine auctioneer like K&L Wines, Vinfolio, or Zachys to run an event, or you can try sourcing your older wines through an always-on auction site like WineBid or CellarBid.

Learn more about whether you should age your wine, how long you should age your wine, where to try aged wine (to see if you even like it), what to know before you buy, and where to buy aged wine in my extensive Useful Guide to Aged Wine.

Take a shortcut to Aged Cabernet with The California Wine Club or explore more aged wine for sale in my wine finder.

Can you order wine on Amazon Prime?

Yes, you can order wine on Amazon Prime in most places. You’re limited to what your local Whole Foods carries (they also partner with some local grocers, but that varies wildly based on where you live). They have a pretty substantial alcohol delivery fee attached to your order. If you’re already ordering your groceries, it’s not a bad idea to add wine on, but you can get much better prices and wines from the stores listed above. Similar services like MiniBar and Saucey work directly with wine stores, too, so you might get a better selection or prices by trying them instead.

Jessyca Frederick

Guide by: Jessyca Frederick

Inspired by frequent questions from friends and family about different wines and wine practices, I write Useful Wine Guides so that people I don’t know might benefit from my knowledge and desire to share information, too.