Best way to consistently get a great bottle of wine? Make friends with your local wine shop. If luck falls your way, you'll find an unpretentious wine nerd at the helm who is eager to meet your needs. Unfortunately, not all of us have easy access to a small and cute neighborhood wine shop that sells boutique natural wines, hence the necessity of this article.
I buy the majority of my wine at local shops in Denver (Proof Wine & Spirits, Cask & Craft, Mondo Vino, Argonaut, Boulder Wine Merchant), but I also spend a good amount of time scouring the web for wine deals. Denver's wine game has improved significantly over the last few years (we even have a Natural Wine Week!), but it is a long way away from being New York City or San Francisco. There is still a lot of great wine that isn't making it to Colorado.
A quick caution before we get to the recommendations. BEWARE OF FAKE WINE DEAL SITES, e.g., super discounted wine clubs. A number of opportunistic wine clubs claim to offer ridiculous savings on first shipments, anywhere from 50-90% off. Don't believe it. Most of these clubs, like Laithwaites Wine and Heartwood & Oak, are merely crappy wine with nice labels and aren't worth more than a mediocre $5 bottle from Trader Joe's. The business model for these clubs is to "custom" label otherwise mediocre wine. They claim they are saving you 80% off of retail, but those wines are rarely sold at retail. It's often tough, or impossible, to tell which club is actually offering value, which is why, again, I recommend talking with your local wine shop, many of which now have their own clubs. With that being said, here is my curated selection of the best places online to find great deals on wine.
My favorite online wine dealer is not really online at all unless you count good ole' email marketing. I'd be surprised if you read my blog regularly and didn't know about Garagiste, but in my opinion, the best wine deals online are sold through a 100% text, old-school email run by a guy named Jon Rimmerman in Seattle. It is tough to explain just how amazing the wine deals are that he offers, but he has spent the last 20 years building up relationships directly with growers all over the world and he genuinely wants to pass the savings onto customers. He focuses on small, independent, and sustainable producers that make terroir-driven wines. But not only that, he offers everything from $8 quaffers to $500 verticals of Brunello. Given my status in Denver, he is the closest I get to 1948 Rivesaltes, crazy funky Chinon, and small cutting edge producers on the West Coast. His selection is wide and vast and he sends anywhere from 1-2 emails a day, each offering a different wine. I encourage everyone I know to sign up for his "newsletter", but beware, your bank account may be in a world of pain once you see what he has to offer.
For a more in-depth take on Garagiste, check out this New York Times Magazine article.
Last Bottle has a great app and is one of my favorite deal sites. They run through several wines a day, which can be tough to keep track of, but if you pay attention, you can find a ton of great bottles in $10-20 range. They offer free shipping if you order four bottles at a time. Download the app and give them a shot.
Wine Till Sold Out (WTSO)
WTSO is one of the original wine deal sites, if not the original, and consistently has outrageous deals. I love their selection of French and Italian wines, many of which are hard to find in the US. Generally, the wines offered have been reviewed and scored 90+ points. They also offer community feedback in the wine has been sold before so you can be confident that the wine you are getting us truly discounted and worth ordering. Download their app and see what you can find!
Another great website that has been in the online wine deal game for awhile. I've ordered from them several times and they generally offer very high quality wines with a focus on domestic.
Last Call has a similar model to all of the sites above but they offer multiple wines at a time. I haven't ordered from them but I check the site regularly and there are some great wines on offer.
Winecrasher takes the Hotwire/Priceline approach to selling wine with crash pricing. Wines are offered at deep discounts but you don't know what the exact wine is, just the year, region, varietal, etc. The model doesn't make as much sense with wine but the site has some great deals. I was sent two sample wines for free at no cost by their team but I haven't tasted them yet. I can confirm they were very high quality and good deals for what they were listed for on their website.
Cinderella's approach is very similar to WTSO. One wine at a time and the deals are usually very solid. Nothing special here but another site to keep an eye on for great finds.
I've followed Lot18 for several years now and have ordered from them multiple times. They've had a rocky past, with expansion and then lay offs, but they kept to the core of their business and seem to be afloat. While you won't have the biggest discounts on wines, their deals are consistently good values. They've also got an intriguing "Tasting Room" wine club that is unique in its approach. Check it out!