Wine websites get mixed reviews

Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:49am EST
 
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By Leslie Gevirtz

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Just as Amazon revolutionized the way books are sold and Groupon has conditioned shoppers to expect daily deals on services and foods, a cluster of websites have upended the stodgy world of wine.

At least a half-dozen online websites in the United States, a few in Britain and Australia and one or two in France promote wines, sometimes for as much as 60 percent less than retail, using social media.

But are they really good deals?

"I suspect these may be OK and may be occasionally even a very good deal for the casual drinker," said Bill Marsano, a former wine editor of United Airlines magazine Hemispheres.

"Fussy people, those who think highly of their wine knowledge, who prattle about terroir, will probably be disappointed. Although, a few will wake up to the fact that until they realized they like cheap wine, they were just snobs," he said.

Slurp.co.uk is an online retailer which its chief executive Dr. Jeremy Howard said operates like Amazon from a central logistics hub in London.

Like some of its U.S. counterparts it holds so-called flash sales where wines are sold at deep discounts for very short periods, sometimes as short as 30 minutes. There is a sister site in Hong Kong and both promote flash sales via Twitter and Facebook but shun email.

A study by the French management school BEM found more than a dozen websites in France, Germany and Spain, but only a few used social media. Most lacked a Facebook page and only one had a Twitter account.   Continued...