Coronavirus lockdown is giving us a taste for buying wines online

John Wilson: We’ve been slow to shop for wine on the web, but that’s all changed now

 

Has coronavirus turned us into a nation of online wine shoppers? We have been slower than other nations to start buying wine through websites, but the current crisis has changed that – for the moment, anyway.

Some drinks retailers are being coy about sales, but most have seen a huge rise in business thanks to the closure of pubs and restaurants. Online sales have increased massively, while holding value in some cases. Michael Kane of Curious Wines told me that March was their busiest month ever; while the company lost 50 per cent of its business when restaurants and hotels closed, this was more than made up by a twelvefold increase in online sales. 

Will Mullin of wineonline.ie has also seen a jump in online sales, with some customers trading up a little too.

“It has been our busiest period in 20 years’ trading, by a long way. It’s like Black Friday every day. I don’t think people are drinking more; it’s just they have a fear of going out or are cocooning.

People are spending less in restaurants and pubs so they can afford to spend more on decent wine – if you give them a good reason to buy. The jump in quality from €10 to €15 is astronomical, so it makes sense

“We see two new trends. A lot of people who would have gone to supermarkets are still looking for the €10 wines, wines that I wouldn’t have sold before. Then there are people who are treating themselves and buying decent wines. Before, typically most of our sales were €15 to €20. Now people are going above that. Our mixed cases section is doing very well.”

Gareth Keogh of Wines Direct (winesdirect.ie) says: “Some 80 per cent of our business was with restaurants, so we really needed a boost. We have seen a big increase and a huge number of new customers. Thankfully we haven’t seen the value of each bottle drop. People are spending less in restaurants and pubs so they can afford to spend more on decent wine – if you give them a good reason to buy. The jump in quality from €10 to €15 is astronomical, so it makes sense.” 

As well as these, just about every wine retailer offers a nationwide delivery service. Some, such as mitchellandson.com or greenacres.com, are quite sophisticated; others are fairly rudimentary. But just about all will be happy to deliver you some wine. I have put together a list of independent retailers on irishtimes.com.

Some importers such as Wine Mason (WineMason.ie) have several mixed cases on offer that you then collect from one of their designated retailers around the country. WineLab (winelab.ie) has an interesting idea where you simply let them know how much you want to spend, and they choose.

Online specialist SIYPS.com has intriguing mystery cases put together by Aimsir sommelier Cathryn Steunenberg. Thecorkscrew.ie has a critics’ case, including a few of my favourites, and stationtostationwine.ie has the Brat Pack, featuring a recipe to match each wine.

This week I feature four wines for €15 or less, all available online.

Bodegas Navajas 2018 Rioja Crianza

13.5%, €15
A light hand with the oak allows the ripe, rounded dark cherry fruits to shine through. A very stylish elegant Rioja. Perfect with grilled lamb or pork chops. 
From: wineonline.ie

Villa Conversino 2019 Rosso Umbria, di Filippo (Biodynamic)
13.5%, €13.95
Lively, exuberant, ripe dark fruits and a nicely rounded finish. A very easy-drinking, supple wine packed with flavour. Drink with all sorts of tomato-based pasta dishes or pizza.
From Wines Direct, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, winesdirect.ie 

Cazas Novas Avesso Vinho Verde 2018
12%, €14.95
Delicious, refreshing green apples and citrus with a crisp acidity. Perfect spring with the promise of summer to come. Drink solo or with fish and seafood dishes. 
From Bradleys Off-licence, Cork, bradleysofflicence.ie; The Corkscrew, Dublin 2, thecorkscrew.ie; Drinkstore, D7, drinkstore.ie; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; Morton’s, Dublin 6, mortons.ie; Sweeneys D3, sweeneysd3.ie; The Wicklow Wine Co, Wicklow, wicklowwineco.ie; The Wine House, Trim, Co Meath.

Fugatti Pinot Grigio 2019, Terradeiforti DOC (Organic)
12.5%, €14.50-€15.50
A vibrant, refreshing dry wine packed full of mouthwatering melon fruits. The perfect aperitif or alongside all manner of fish, seafood and leafy salads. 
From Sweeneys D3, sweeneysd3.ie; Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3, Clontarfwines.ie; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; 64wine, Glasthule, Co Dublin, 64wine.com; Listons, Dublin 2, listonsfoodstore.ie; Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, Dublin 2, Kells, Co Meath, Galway, sheridanscheesemongers.com; SIYPS.com; Wine Pair, Dublin 8; Fallon & Byrne, Dublin 2, fallonandbyrne.com; Ashe’s, Annascaul, Co Kerry. 

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