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I am very new to "getting into" wine and was wondering if any good websites exist to order from?

I am not looking to spend a ton, and have been particularly fond of Malbecs lately.

Thanks

You can look here. Although since you said that you are new to wine it might be a good idea to head into a wine shop, many threads on this board, and speak with someone that can provide some good advice and help in your education. In addition to that you should do some reading to get some basic knowledge. This will help when figuring out what to buy.

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You can look here.  Although since you said that you are new to wine it might be a good idea to head into a wine shop, many threads on this board, and speak with someone that can provide some good advice and help in your education.  In addition to that you should do some reading to get some basic knowledge.  This will help when figuring out what to buy.

mdt's advice is especially helpful if you are looking to build a wine collection. to develop a well rounded selection of bottles in one's home requires a strategy, good luck, or very good wine advice. a good shop can help you create the first, and provide the last. you are on your own with the luck part.

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I'll echo the other's advice. If you are new to wine and just getting into it, a good wine shop is the place to start. Ordering on-line is great if you are knowledgable and know what you want and like. I'd suggest that you go to Ace Beverages and speak to Joe Riley or to Andy Bassin's (McArthur Beverages). There are other wine shops and wine folks out there that are knowledgable, but I have had nothing but good experiences with these guys.

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I'll echo the other's advice. If you are new to wine and just getting into it, a good wine shop is the place to start. Ordering on-line is great if you are knowledgable and know what you want and like. I'd suggest that you go to Ace Beverages and speak to Joe Riley or to Andy Bassin's (McArthur Beverages). There are other wine shops and wine folks out there that are knowledgable, but I have had nothing but good experiences with these guys.

If you go to Addy Bassin's (MacArthur Beverages) ask to speak with Steve, who has been there for years or Mike, who is new. Both are very knowledgeable, friendly and patient with newbys. The other place I would suggest is The Vineyard in McLean. Jim Arsenault, the owner, is very gregarious, has amazing depth of knowledge and is always pouring tastes. Everything he sells is something he has tasted and thinks is very good. He also has a great e-mail newsletter that is a monthly wine-education course.

I like Malbec, too. Rodman's in Friendship Heights has a fair number of them. They are a good source for a wide variety of inexpensive to moderate-priced wines, although the advice I have gotten from the sales people there has been inconsistent.

As far as internet sales, Wine Library is probably the best/closest. The big issue for me is the $2 per bottle shipping charge that ends up being added ($25 for a case of wine). If you are ordering an expensive wine at a good price, $2 extra is negligible. When you are talking about inexpensive wine, though, their discount price pretty much gets wiped out by the shipping charge. You might as well buy it locally, unless it is something you really want that you can't find here.

A shortcut to finding good wine when you are not sure about the advice you are getting from a salesman, is to look at the name of the importer. I think very highly of Kysela and Sons (France, Australia and some Spain), Kermit Lynch (France), Grapes of Spain (Jorge Ordonez), The Grateful Palate (Australia), and Robert Kacher (France), Leonardo Locascio (Italy). Eric Solomon (Spain and France) most of the time. I feel that I can trust that these guys care a lot about what is in the bottle with their name on it and are not dumping swill on the market just to make a profit.

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To add to the conversation, I like and have used all of the before mentioned ways, but economically, I like to head out to the Wine and Beverage Wholesalers/ Warehouses in Baileys Crossroads to get a few cases that are staples. Of course you're not going to find anything fine, but they sell my Virginia "Chateau Morrisette Black Dog," table wine cheaper than I can buy it from the vinyard.

Although, their storage techniques leave less than to be desired, it is the most economical for me.

If you must buy on the internet, use google, find the right price (don't forget shipping price) and that's about all you can do.

just my $.02

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Full Disclosure: I work in online sales for a Washington, D.C. based retailer, The Wine Specialist.

I think that the online buying scene can be tough if you're a bit of a neophyte. Just like purchasing in a store, it's important to find a reputable source that you feel is honest and forthright. There are web retailers out there that sell some unheard-of plonk that seems cheap but in fact is pretty undrinkable bulk or cast-off wine. Many of the "wine of the month" clubs in particular seem to specialize in selling dreck to newbies.

A trustworthy retailer is especially important when buying online- returns are sometimes made difficult, some retailers will send different vintages or even different WINES without telling you, and so on.

But it's a worthwhile option. Particularly valuable is a good email newsletter. A good one means one that isn't just listing products, but is informative and even educational. This can lead you to good finds; I for one often send winery profiles when a producer visits and I'm particularly fond of the wines.

Online buying can be a great resource! But you should know who you're buying from, and be sure to check out the ordering information, disclosures and so on. Good luck!

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Grapes of Spain (Jorge Ordonez)

Totally agree. One minor clarification is that "Grapes of Spain" and Jorge Ordonez are 2 separate importers, unless something has recently changed. Both import Spanish wines; however, Grapes of Spain is run by Aurelio Cabestrero (former sommelier at Taberna del Alabardero and Marcel's). I can't say enough good things about Aurelio's wines.

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This should something for another subject, but a number of Aurelio's wine makers will be in town for a barrel tasting at the Madison Hotel on June 10th. Last years event was a lot of fun, and the passion of these Spanish wine makers is almost reason unto itself to buy their wines.

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Woahh Erikv, you're talking big leagues now.

I recently signed up for Arrowine's email list and bought the cheapest Bordeaux futures they offered to help me get started. Or do you feel it is more risky to do so for a novice?

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I recently signed up for Arrowine's email list and bought the cheapest Bordeaux futures they offered to help me get started. Or do you feel it is more risky to do so for a novice?

If you are just getting into wine why are you buying futures into something that you don't know much about? As I mentioned before, spend your money learning more about wine and don't worry about the futures for now.

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Totally agree. One minor clarification is that "Grapes of Spain" and Jorge Ordonez are 2 separate importers, unless something has recently changed. Both import Spanish wines; however, Grapes of Spain is run by Aurelio Cabestrero (former sommelier at Taberna del Alabardero and Marcel's). I can't say enough good things about Aurelio's wines.

Thank you for providing correct info. My bad--I like them both.

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also keep in mind that from approximately June-September, it's too hot to safely ship wine so purchase from a place that will hold it in temperature controlled storage until the fall. With the rise in fuel prices, shipping charges have gone up as well.

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If you are just getting into wine why are you buying futures into something that you don't know much about? As I mentioned before, spend your money learning more about wine and don't worry about the futures for now.

I couldn't agree more. There's no money to be made in wine if you don't know that much about it. Heck, I doubt I could choose something that would be profitable and a good ROI. But, if you have the room and the disposable income, then by all means.

I recommend the Sommelier Societies Wine Captain Course, or the Washington Wine Academy training.

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Last month I received an email offering 6 different bottles of wine for $40 with no shipping charges! I can't find the email to post, but it was a "Taste of California" promotion, although some of the wines were from elsewhere. We have one bottle left, a 2004 Chateau Haut Redon Bordeaux. If that one is a drinkable as the others, I will consider myself very lucky. Each bottle was $6.59, all were perfectly acceptable for drinking with dinner, and I didn't have to haul any of it. :)

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Last month I received an email offering 6 different bottles of wine for $40 with no shipping charges! I can't find the email to post, but it was a "Taste of California" promotion, although some of the wines were from elsewhere. We have one bottle left, a 2004 Chateau Haut Redon Bordeaux. If that one is a drinkable as the others, I will consider myself very lucky. Each bottle was $6.59, all were perfectly acceptable for drinking with dinner, and I didn't have to haul any of it. :)

Click...

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I think it's a great deal when the wine club is offering solid, simple wines at prices like that.

As I said before, wine clubs can offer great deals, or cast-off labels that end up there because they don't find another way into the marketplace. Don't mean to be overly skeptical; that's just what I've seen sometimes.

Now, at those prices, "pleasant" would suffice. 9 times out of 10, that's all I need out of a wine.

My question is, clicking through the site's collections, do any of you recognize many of those labels? I don't.

Anyone else had particularly good, or bad, experiences with wine clubs?

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Last month I received an email offering 6 different bottles of wine for $40 with no shipping charges! I can't find the email to post, but it was a "Taste of California" promotion, although some of the wines were from elsewhere. We have one bottle left, a 2004 Chateau Haut Redon Bordeaux. If that one is a drinkable as the others, I will consider myself very lucky. Each bottle was $6.59, all were perfectly acceptable for drinking with dinner, and I didn't have to haul any of it. :unsure:
It was Craig's turn to cook dinner tonight. . . we took that bottle of Bordeaux to the picnic in our cooler, but nobody seemed interested (everything else in the cooler was consumed!). It went quite nicely with our steaks. Six for Six. BINGO!
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Dinwiddie, I'm hurt that you did not mention me at all... what's up brotha? :unsure:

I was remiss, but I deal with you on a personal basis and didn't want to give up all my sources. ;) Next thing I know everyone will be getting Ramey Chards. I must say that you guys are one of the very best for dealing with over the phone, which is the only way I have had any interaction with Ceciles Fine Wine since I don't get to VA very often. (I have on occasion gone to the branch in MD, but much prefer working with you instead.) You also have a pretty cool and easy to use website.

Sooo. For all of you out there, James Kim (jamietown) of Ceciles is one of the very best sources in the whole wide world for getting fine wine at a reasonable price. I have never met anyone who is more knowledgable about Burgandy and he has never, never given me anything but the best advice regardless of whether it was about a wine he sold or not. (He also brings some killer wines to the off-lines we attend together, but that is another story.) And he is a great guy to boot.

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I was remiss, but I deal with you on a personal basis and didn't want to give up all my sources. :unsure: Next thing I know everyone will be getting Ramey Chards. I must say that you guys are one of the very best for dealing with over the phone, which is the only way I have had any interaction with Ceciles Fine Wine since I don't get to VA very often. (I have on occasion gone to the branch in MD, but much prefer working with you instead.) You also have a pretty cool and easy to use website.

Sooo. For all of you out there, James Kim (jamietown) of Ceciles is one of the very best sources in the whole wide world for getting fine wine at a reasonable price. I have never met anyone who is more knowledgable about Burgandy and he has never, never given me anything but the best advice regardless of whether it was about a wine he sold or not. (He also brings some killer wines to the off-lines we attend together, but that is another story.) And he is a great guy to boot.

Jaimetown ROCKS! This from another happy customer, fellow DC Crüdite and friend. ;)

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Anyone else had particularly good, or bad, experiences with wine clubs?

Paula and I have been part of the California Wine Club for a little over a year. However, we have just canceled our membership. We enjoyed it with mixed success (some good, some not so good wines) but it got to the point where I was tired of receiving Merlots and Chardonnays. Plus, we have not been drinking as much wine as we used to (why that is, I don't know).

I am very new to "getting into" wine and was wondering if any good websites exist to order from?

I am not looking to spend a ton, and have been particularly fond of Malbecs lately.

Thanks

I found this article on, of all places, Smartmoney.com. Personally, I would be skeptical of ordering wine from Overstock.com, but perhaps some of the other information is helpful.

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You can buy wine from Overstock.com?!

poking around their website, I didn't find many names I recognized. That's always a red flag for me.

WineMiles, another of the companies in the feature, had a rather odd selection that was organized in a really incomplete fashion. Now, I know how hard it is to organize wines on a website, but under "apellation" they listed California (223 wines,) Oregon (4), Italy (1) and just a few other categories. No Portugal listing, for example, but they had several ports. 2 wines from New Zealand? Click the link and it takes you to just one- Jonesy Australian Tawny Port? For $23?!

And the piece says this site was "for the true oenophile."

My Wines Direct. Another one they featured. Maybe 60 wines in all, virtually all no-name brands, and then one good producer- Steele-but it was the 2000 Bien Nacido Chard at $22. They also had a hilarious-looking knockoff brand, "Yella Roo" from Australia! They had a fanciful yellow critter on the label...sound familar anyone?

I'm becoming more and more convinced that a lot of the online stores that have sprung up are dubious indeed. Lots of older vintages, no-name brands, etc. I think they're trying to take advantage of neophytes who prefer online shopping to walking into an intimidating wine shop. It's a shame.

Again, full disclosure for those who haven't read the whole thread, I do online sales for a D.C.-based wine shop. Personally, I think buying from the online arm of real, honest-to-goodness wine retailers is a much safer proposition than ordering from a place like those mentioned above.

Yella Roo Chardonnay?! Come on!

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Besides finding a good retail store, another good approach is to try new wines at area festivals. There are several excellent wineries throught Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, and North Carolina. During the summer and fall, there are dozens of festivals where you can sample each state's products. Let me shamelessly promote my website, wine-compass.com, which allows you to view wineries and events by state.

-----

Todd

wine-compass.com

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Bumping an old thread to ask a question. Is there a local wine retailer who offers some sort of "club" option like this? You tell them what you like, and they put together a reasonably priced case of wines for you to try, the sort of thing for a regular weeknight dinner, thus helping you figure out where you want to invest in better bottles in the future. Every couple of months, you come back and get another case, and along the way, you learn all sorts of things about wine.

I know many people on this board love to wander wine stores on a regular basis, and I do on occasion. There have been more times than one, however, when I would have loved to have someone choose a nice selection of wines for me, hand me a little booklet telling me about them, and I would just pay and head out with my box instead of wandering about the store feeling either overwhelmed or accosted by overly "helpful" sales staff. Taking any notes I had into account for next time would make things that much more appealing.

I realize a place like Zagat (aka Virgin, it would appear), has stronger buying power than most places. I would also guess that local purveyors may have access to gems that these guys can't get because they aren't produced in the quantity necessary for their business model, no? Is this sort of thing possible on a smaller scale?

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Bumping an old thread to ask a question. Is there a local wine retailer who offers some sort of "club" option like this? You tell them what you like, and they put together a reasonably priced case of wines for you to try, the sort of thing for a regular weeknight dinner, thus helping you figure out where you want to invest in better bottles in the future. Every couple of months, you come back and get another case, and along the way, you learn all sorts of things about wine.

I know many people on this board love to wander wine stores on a regular basis, and I do on occasion. There have been more times than one, however, when I would have loved to have someone choose a nice selection of wines for me, hand me a little booklet telling me about them, and I would just pay and head out with my box instead of wandering about the store feeling either overwhelmed or accosted by overly "helpful" sales staff. Taking any notes I had into account for next time would make things that much more appealing.

I realize a place like Zagat (aka Virgin, it would appear), has stronger buying power than most places. I would also guess that local purveyors may have access to gems that these guys can't get because they aren't produced in the quantity necessary for their business model, no? Is this sort of thing possible on a smaller scale?

The only place, if I think I'm reading your post correctly, is Screwtop's program in Arlington. Am I close? Or maybe this: VA Wine Club
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The only place, if I think I'm reading your post correctly, is Screwtop's program in Arlington. Am I close? Or maybe this: VA Wine Club

Close, but I'm more interested in larger quantities and something not necessarily restricted to Virginia. Recently, things have been crazy at work so my wine buying has been at Costco, mostly because of convenience, and also because the last time I went into a local wine store, I couldn't take three steps without someone asking if I needed help. (Lovely people of Schneider's, maybe you can have little "Just Looking" stickers at the door for those of us who just want to wander?) I would love to have someone put it all together for me so I can worry about other things that are more pressing right now, but still have a decent wine with dinner. There are personal shoppers for everything else now, why doesn't someone local pick it up with the wine?

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It isn't an official "club" of sorts, but I know for a fact that if you called up either MacArthur Beverages or Schneiders and said "I would like a case (or whatever) of red wine and I want to spend $XXX" they will put something together for you absolutely. I've done it with both stores and have had good results. The more details you provide, the more likely they are to have even more winners for you. Mention you want predominantly Spanish reds one time, for example, and that you'd like ten of the twelve to be whatever you consider an every day drinking wine and two that are more for special occasions. Or whatever. It has worked for me.

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http://garagiste.com/

They send quirky e-mails just about daily. I have yet to buy anything from them, and only occasionally read before deleting. I have bought numerous things from WTSO.com (Wines 'til Sold Out). Part of it is that WTSO offers many things that are less expensive than garagiste, and WTSO is located in NJ, while WTSO is in the Northwest--is it Portland? I can't recall at the moment. But I have concerns about the carbon fotprint of buying a French wine shipped to Oregon and then back to the east coast.

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Garagiste is actually based in Seattle.

The reason I jumped in and ordered was b/c in my research on them, it seems like they have done a pretty good job being advocates (obviously not as necessary anymore) for WA state wine, which I really like (but have only really gotten into over the last year or so).

Their emails are funny (and at times can read like reviews here :lol: ) and while I read many of them, their exploration of European (mainly French / Italian) doesn't catch my eye like the WA state wines that pop up from time to time.

I also thought I'd read they were opening a distribution center on here, which would be interesting if it ever came to fruition.

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www.avalonwine.com in Corvallis is a superb source for Oregon and Washington state wine. They carry a lot of wines that are otherwise not available east of the MIssissippi including a number which are otherwise seriously allocated. Marcus is the owner and extremely knowledgeable. Generally, they are 10-20% off but they are trustworthy and will hold wine until you are ready to have it shipped. I've bought from them nine or ten times over the past couple of years. Excellent source for Reynvaan, PB and Owen Roe if the winery is sold out.

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Garagiste will open a facility in DC this year. Permitting is taking a while-surprise, surprise. Lat bottle is ok if you understand you will probaly get shut out very often and that you may actually get the last bottle. They have marathons and if you have nothing else to do, you can refresh all day. Pricing can be outstanding but anything really good goes instantly. WTSO overall to me has the best CS going and they will ship anywhere. They have a platinum campaign as well as the regualr offering-ask to get on it.

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I have a noob question about WTSO. I know about Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate, but they keep posting reviews by people with whom I am unfamiliar. So, one, should that be a red flag in and of itself, or two, should I know who these people are? Jonathan Newman and Stephen Tanzer have come up quite a bit lately. Anyone?

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Everyone does this. WTSO, local wine stores, internet sites-almost everyone. http://cinderellawine.com/ is another excellent site which has received little, if any, mention on here. (I found Dal Forno Valpolicella on here for $65 a bottle! Serious. As much as $200 elsewhere.) For myself it is aligning my taste with the reviewer they mention. Often I'll buy a mixed case from someone (I have a lot of experience with the Wine Library/Ultimate Wine/Wine Chateau and others). Also, individual bottles from Costco or Total (wines ending in "7") are competitive with almost anyone's pricing. Above I mentioned Avalon from Courvallis, OR who I also do this with and have found that the owner, Marcus, is really good in matching different wines with particular tastes. Before him I had never heard of PB-now I have this along with some Owen Roe that I had never heard of either. I don't think anyone in the D. C. area sells PB and single vintage Owen Roe syrah.

Now, having said this, at least half of the wine I have bought in the last three or four months has been from a number of Virginia wineries where the largest discount I've found is 20% with most around 10%. And I am buying by the case to get this. Last week I stopped in a place called B-21 in Tarpon Springs, Florida. This happens to be the largest wine store in the state and I spent over an hour working my way through numerous shelves. I ended up with six individual bottles which I am now looking for the cheapest "reliable" source I can find on the internet.

Point is that I am suggesting sampling an individual bottle from any source you can and then going online (Winezap, wine-searcher.com) to find the most competitive price. I've also syndicated small groups of people to buy from WA state wineries with some success (i.e. 30% off from Bergevin Lane).

WTSO is just one source. Credibility from a numerical source on printed media (!) helps them and others. The taste of someone you trust (i.e. Marcus noted above) is worth even more.

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I have a noob question about WTSO. I know about Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate, but they keep posting reviews by people with whom I am unfamiliar. So, one, should that be a red flag in and of itself, or two, should I know who these people are? Jonathan Newman and Stephen Tanzer have come up quite a bit lately. Anyone?

Stephen Tanzer is a well-known wine critic with his own publication, International Wine Cellar, since 1985. I think he's generally well-regarded, and his judgments tend to matter. Jonathan H. Newman is a somewhat shadowy figure believed by some to plug wines in which he has a financial interest. It has been suggested that he has a stake in WTSO. I have no personal knowledge of any of this, but I generally avoid wines on WTSO that are recommended only by him.

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