Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Essential Wine Websites for Newbies

I have always wondered what it must have been like to be a wine drinker before the Internet era. How did people research wines back then? How did they track of wines in their cellars? How did they compare prices? Call me spoiled, but I can’t imagine being a wine drinker and not having the internet. Aside from the forums, blogs, and other wine-centric websites, here are three sites that everyone, especially Wine Newbies, should have in his or her tool kit:

CellarTracker: CellarTracker is an inventory tracker. While it is used by experienced wine collectors with thousands of bottles in their cellars, it is also an essential tool for the wine novice. Immediately after returning home from a visit to the wine shop, I log into CellarTracker to add my purchases to my modest online inventory. Generally, the wines I add to my inventory have already been added to CellarTracker's database, so I can quickly see all of the helpful information on the wine (varietal, desgination, region, etc.) as well as tasting notes written by other CellarTracker users. I generally avoid looking at the tasting notes until after I have tasted the wine so as not to bias my novice palate, but the tasting notes are extremely helpful when use CellarTracker to research wines to buy, which I frequently do. My favorite part about CellarTracker is that users can perform all sorts of fun and useful analyses at the click of the button: the largest cellars on the site, producers whose wines are most owned, most popular wines for the year, etc. CellarTracker is not only a fun wine tool, but it is also incredibly useful for the someone who is trying to learn more about wine.

Wine-Searcher: I follow wine forums and blogs on a regular basis, so I am always finding new wines that I want to purchase. Generally, the wines I read about online are fairly obscure and thus cannot be found at any wine shop. Fortunately, I have Wine-Searcher at my fingertips and can immediately find a store that sells the wine in my area. Even better, if multiple retailers sell the wine, Wine-Searcher will tell me which store has the best price. Wine-Searcher also serves as quite an eye opener as to how widely prices vary for the same wine from store to store.

It must have been hard times for wine drinkers before the Internet existed. How did wine snobs keep track of their inventories? Did wine drinkers have to rely on professional reviewers only for providing tasting notes? How would a wine drinker find a store that sold a wine he was looking for? Once he found that store, did he unwittingly overpay for a wine that could have been found for several dollars less at another store? Thank heavens for the Internet!

I think that both CellarTracker and Wine-Searcher should be websites in every wine beginner's arsenal. What other sites should be included?

1 comment:

RougeAndBlanc said...

In the good old days before Internet or Web 2.0, experience of tasting wine was a privileged experiecnce indeed. With the explosive growth of B2B/B2C via internet and global economics, the playing field is flattened, now cash is king.