A few years ago, some of my online friends had recommended Woot!, an online “deal a day” merchant that sells one gadget per day for a super low price. I never got into Woot!, despite the fact that I love trendy gadgets. so I guess it should come as a surprise that Woot’s! sister site, Wine.Woot!, has caught on big at my house. Nevertheless, over the course of just a couple of month’s, I’ve become a true Wine.Woot! enthusiast, expanding my palate and my wine collection with this site’s “deal a day” business model.
What is Wine.Woot! and how does it work?
Wine.Woot! is a Web site that typically offers one–and only one– wine or wine-related deal per day until 11:59pm central time or until the deal is sold out. Check the site every day. If you see something you like, order it. You won’t get the chance to do so tomorrow. Once an item is sold out, it’s sold out, and some items sell out very quickly. There are no backorders allowed. On the other hand, if you buy something and have remorse about it, you’re also out of luck.
Most days, only one item is up for sale. However, there is one exception to that rule. If you happen to go to Wine.Woot! and see orange flashing lights on the page, you have encountered a Woot-Off. What that means is that Wine.Woot! (and any other of the four Woot! related sister sites) is trying to sell off limited quantities of inventory. A product will be up for sale until it’s sold out, then another product will immediately be put up for grabs. No product will be offered for more than twelve hours. If you run across a Woot-Off and see something you really want, you’d be advised to make up your mind quickly. Products sold on Woot-Off days can sell out very quickly and there’s no guarantee Wine.Woot! will ever offer it again. In any case, if you happen to see the “I Want One!” button moving around, that means the product is about to sell out. Act fast if you want to buy it.
On Thursdays, Wine.Woot! usually offers a non wine but wine related deal. In my experience, anything from gourmet salt to fancy cheese to wine tools may be offered. I have yet to purchase anything but wine from Wine.Woot!, but I have to admit that some of the wine related deals look tempting. You may also find a wine related deal on Woot-Off days, too.
I’ve found something I want. How do I make a purchase?
First, create an account. Creating an account is very easy to do. I took the easy way out and signed into my Wine.Woot! account through Twitter. You can do this with a number of popular social networking Web sites, including Facebook or OpenID. Frankly, I don’t recommend doing this, since I have found the Wine.Woot! site to be a bit glitchy when it comes to connecting with other Web sites. If I had to do it over again, I would have created a separate account through the Woot! Web site.
In any case, once you have created an account, it will work with any of the four Woot! Web sites. And if you see some wine you want to buy on Wine.Woot!, the second thing you should do after you’ve created your account is check the list of states under the description of the wine. Orders come directly from the small wineries selling the wines on Wine.Woot!, which, from my experience, are usually in California. Not every winery will ship wine to every state and not every state will allow wine to be shipped to a private citizen. For that reason, you will need to consult this list every time you want to buy alcohol from Wine.Woot! Of course, if you’re purchasing something that isn’t alcoholic, this won’t be an issue.
If you’ve spotted your state on the list as one the winery can worth with, click the “I Want One!” button. You can then enter your address and payment information, which can be stored on your Woot! account for future convenience. Shipping and handling for wine is typically $5 to $7 and orders are usually delivered through FedEx or UPS. Shipping costs are higher in the summer because the wine usually needs to be shipped in a temperature controlled vehicle.
After you’ve entered your information and sent your order to Wine.Woot! you’ll get a confirmation email. This is the hard part of buying wine from Wine.Woot! because it means the waiting has now begun. So far, I have made six purchases on Wine.Woot! and my wine usually takes a couple of weeks to get to me. Bear in mind that most wines are coming from California and must be shipped when the weather is cooperating. If it’s really hot in California when you place your order, the winery may wait until the heat wave is less intense. That way, your wine won’t spoil in transit.
Once your wine is in transit, you’ll get an email from Wine.Woot! letting you know it’s on its way. Here’s a word of warning. A lot of times, the estimated delivery date will change, again, because the wine doesn’t always ship immediately. For this reason, you may want to have your wine delivered to your place of business. I work out of my home, so I have mine sent to my home address.
Whoever accepts the wine must be at least 21 years of age. He or she must sign for the package and may have to produce identification. Whoever accepts the wine must also be sober, as the wine cannot be delivered to someone who is intoxicated. The FedEx guy who brings us our wine never asks for ID; he just asks how old we are. When I told him I was 38, he seemed surprised. I chose to take that reaction as a compliment.
My experiences with the wines…
So far, I have purchase seven different Wine.Woots!, four of which have arrived at my home. I have mostly been pleased with all of the wines I’ve bought. My first Wine.Woot! was a four pack of wines from Vina Robles in California. I got three bottles of syrah and a special Signature blend for about $60 plus $7 shipping. Checking the winery’s Web site, I learned that I saved significantly off the list price for each wine. Better yet, neither my husband Bill nor I had ever heard of this winery, so we got to try some wine that wasn’t available at our local grocery or liquor store. A couple of weeks later, I bought some wine from a vineyard owned and operated by Olympic figure skater Peggy Fleming and her husband. We probably never would have had the chance to try Peggy Fleming’s wine if not for Wine.Woot!
Most of the wines I have gotten through Wine.Woot! have been of outstanding quality and very unique, plus they are usually sold at a substantial discount. It’s also convenient to get several bottles at once. Bill and I like our wine and getting a few bulk shipments from Wine.Woot! prevents us from having to go to the store so often. Most of the deals I’ve seen include anywhere from four to six bottles of wine, though I have seen as few as two and as many as twelve bottles included in a deal. That being said, make sure you know your state’s laws about buying wine. Many states limit how much wine a private citizen can purchase per year.
What if I’m not sure about making a purchase?
If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like taking risks, Wine.Woot! is probably not for you. The wines that are typically sold through Wine.Woot! usually come in small batches from small vineyards, some of which may be a bit obscure. You won’t find any Gallo or Beringer wines on Wine.Woot!
However, Wine.Woot! does offer a very descriptive and often funny blog post for every item it sells. Read the description, check out the wine’s stats, and visit the winery’s Web site. You’ll get a lot of information that way. Also, read the comments left by other, more experienced Wine.Woot! members. I’ve found that a lot of people who hang out on Wine.Woot! really know their wines. You might spot posts from the folks from the winery who can answer any questions you might have. And if you’re really hesitant about buying something, you might even find someone who lives near you who will split the order with you.
If you happen to be shopping on a Friday, look for a “Lab Rat” report from a Wine.Woot! user. Lab Rats are normal Wine.Woot! users who get a free bottle early so they can taste it and review it for everyone else. Wines that are sold on Fridays stay up all weekend, so there’s time to gather a lot of information about the product up for grabs. Wine.Woot! encourages Lab Rats to be brutally honest, but bear in mind that opinions are highly subjective.
So far, I am very pleased with my experiences using Wine.Woot! The wines have all been great quality and sold at very good prices. Yes, waiting for the wine can be a bit of a hassle, but the end result has been worth it. And though Wine.Woot! upfront states that they aren’t the most customer service friendly folks around, my experiences in dealing emailing them have been positive. I sent them a note just the other day about one of my orders and got a response within an hour. You can’t beat that.
If you like wine, you might want to give Wine.Woot! a try. I’m glad I did.