Off the top of your head, how many wine retailers can you name that sell wines and offer you expert advice by phone based on your personal cellar needs? When wine collector Martha Welch bought more than 2,000 bottles of wine over the past four years, she had the benefit of a truly full-service retailer at her side. The Vinfolio staff helped her navigate California cult wines for the first time, which was a huge benefit for her collection. In today’s wine market, it’s easy to sell wines online and get them shipped off to customers, but it’s far more difficult (and rewarding) to take the extra steps required to become a full-service retailer. Thousands of online wine retailers sell wine, so serious collectors need to go with those who offer a full-service experience, not just a receipt of wine guarantee. You’ll need to take a closer look at your wine retailer if you want to make the most out of your wine collection.
Online and Mobile Access
The first quality you should look for in a full-service wine storage platform is whether it offers a mobile app to keep track of your bottles. An estimated 3.4 billion bottles of wine are bought and sold every year worldwide. When you own thousands of these bottles in your own cellar, keeping track of them all while sorting through thousands of new bottles for sale is a daunting task. Mobile wine apps allow you to keep updated tabs on the wines you own and give you up-to-the-minute data on new wines for sale. Rather than staying in your comfort zone and investing in the same bottles of California Cabernet that you know and love, wine apps show your collection from a bird’s eye view, which helps you make more diverse choices.
Longtime wine collector Pete Spande says he looks for four qualities in a great mobile wine app: tasting logs, social networking, bottle identification software and updated market data. Apps like VinCellar have all of these features, including a simple tasting note option where you can rate a wine on-the-spot or write a detailed note later. This wine cellar app is also connected to Vinfolio’s online community forum, along with market data trends on all of the bottles in your cellar.
Let’s say that the wine retailer you use has an app with all of these fantastic qualities; the next step is to check on your retailer’s wine storage options. Whether you’re looking to buy new wines or you want to keep track of the bottles you already own, you need a retailer that can safely store them all. Does your retailer only store wines that are for sale on the website, or does your retailer offer you the option to store your own wine collection in the warehouse too? Vinfolio and other quality retailers offer a full-service wine storage option for collectors that includes climate controls and earthquake-proof shelving. You can store your wines in the warehouse as long as you’d like, regardless of whether you’ll sell your wines down the road. When it comes time to sell or drink your wines, you don’t have to worry about shipping, since your retailer will send the wines directly to a buyer or to your doorstep.
White Glove Shipping
The best wine sellers offer white glove shipping to premium customers. What’s the difference between normal shipping and white glove shipping? To start, most normal wine shipments have some temperature control, but it’s usually only a box packed with ice. White glove shipping is far more intensive, and is a must-have for serious wine collectors investing in high-end bottles. With white glove shipping, your wines are packed in a temperature-controlled van that keeps the bottles at a steady temperature, more so than a box stuffed with ice. These shipments won’t go through if the retailer suspects that the weather could damage the bottles; if it’s too hot outside for the temperature-controlled van to keep its cargo cool, quality retailers will wait to ship the wines until it’s safe. If possible, avoid buying wine from a retailer that doesn’t offer safe wine shipping options, like white glove shipping.
It’s easy to fake a bottle of wine when you sell it online, which is why you should always buy from retailers that authenticate bottles before they go up for auction. Vinfolio inspects every bottle it receives for damage and authenticity before posting it on the website; every bottle you see has gone through a vigorous in-person screening process. You could lose thousands of dollars in wine investments if you go with a retailer that never inspects bottles. Take a bottle of iconic 1945 DRC, for instance. Only 600 bottles of this wine were made from just two barrels that year, yet counterfeit wine experts say that they constantly see bottles of this wine selling for thousands of dollars on the internet. Real bottles of this vintage would sell for at least $100,000 at auction, so it’s unlikely that you’ll find an authentic bottle on the internet going for a few thousand dollars. A quality full-service retailer is your best defense against wine fraud, especially when your retailer carefully inspects the rarest bottles of wine in the world.
Home Cellar Organization
One final test for your wine retailer is whether they offer wine cellar organization options. At Vinfolio, wine experts can visit your wine cellar in-person to organize your bottles and give you tips on how to store them properly. With this option, you get one-of-a-kind feedback on your specific needs, which is something that few other retailers offer their clients. True full-service wine storage retailers care about the quality of the wine and the happiness of the collectors above all else. When your retailer goes above and beyond selling wines, offering much-needed services to collectors in their own homes, you’ll know that your retailer is doing everything they can to make your wine collection the best it can be.
Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s best wine.
With over a decade of experience in the wine industry, Derek Cienfuegos serves as Director of Collector Services at Vinfolio. During his tenure at Vinfolio, he has had the good fortune to work with some of the most distinguished wine collections in the country. Trained in wine production, Derek spent many years making wines commercially for some of Sonoma’s top producers. In addition, he has designed, opened, and managed two wine bars in San Francisco.