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Flash Wines Sales-Good or Bad?


Flash Wine Sales – Buyers Beware!


If you are a wine bargain shopper you’re likely to know about the “Flash” Wine Websites like Wine Woot, WTSO, Lot18, Wine Spies, Last Call Wines, etc. These sites have an online sale on a wine for a short period of time or until they are sold out. These “Flash” sale sites began during recession and they have caught on with many a wine consumer. Imagine how this works. A winery unable to sell its inventory needs to make room for its latest vintage. The winery is able to dump this wine, dealing with one of these “Flash” Websites behind the scenes, so to speak, with little damage to their reputation as a high profile winery. Wow, what if you were a wine club member and happened on one of these “Flash” sites only to find one of your wine club selections priced much less than your wine club member discount?

Three members of our Vintage Wine Tasting Club, including myself. were once regular “Flash” wine site consumers or shall we say more realistically, addicted users of “Flash” wine sites. That addiction has ended as we’ve discovered over time that the wines offered were not always a great deal. It is easy to get carried away and move quickly with your purchase without thinking things through, because the price seems fantastic and you don’t want to miss out before the wine is sold out. The wine descriptions they use always sound so good, but in reality those descriptions are just sale pitches.

bruce Flash Wines Sales Good or Bad?

The biggest drawback to these “Flash” wine sites is that you cannot taste the wine. It is very much a guessing game as to whether you will really like the wine once it arrives at your doorstep. I purchased six bottles of a Russian River Chardonnay produced by a noted California winery for $15.99 a pop. I thought it was going to be a great deal for my wife who loves those big oaky, buttery Chardonnays. Unfortunately, the wine really did not live up to the hype. It was just okay and had we been able to taste the wine beforehand, we would never have purchased it.

Vintage member Bruce reported that on one “Flash” site the wine he purchased was shipped from New Jersey. So does that mean a California winery shipped their wine to New Jersey first and then it backtracked to Bruce’s house in California? That is a whole lot of shipping and how do we know how the wine was stored during those travels? Once, Bruce received a bottle with a popped cork. He never bothered to go through the hassle of getting his money back for that bottle. Vintage wine club member Ray says: “It’s really a ‘pig-in-a-poke’ thing if you don’t know much about the wines offered.”

Once the excitement and anticipation of these daily deals wore off and, after a few disappointing purchases, we stopped using these “Flash” sites. We have come to the conclusion that living on the San Mateo Peninsula and being very close to San Francisco, there are tons of opportunities to find heavily discounted wines. K&L Wines and the Wine Stop in Burlingame, for example, send out frequent email blasts about wine deals. Costco is said to markup the wines only 12 to 15 percent from their purchase price. Sometimes they throw in a coupon for a couple of bucks off their regular low price, which means they are just breaking even or even losing a few cents on the bottle. Many of the wines at Costco come from elite wineries in the Napa Valley and Sonoma and they are current vintages.

Trader Joe’s has their “Hustle Buys” and if you are an alert shopper or read this blog, you probably have found some fantastic wines under this heading. Trader Joe’s makes a deal with a winery much like the “Flash” sites and distributes X number of cases to selected stores. Once this wine sells out, there is no more to be had.

The big advantage to buying locally is that you can buy one or two bottles to taste and then run back to buy a caseload if you love the wine. In our humble opinion, wine bargain hunters are better off sticking to local wine shops to get the best bang for your buck. The “Flash” wine sites are not all that they are hyped to be up to be; otherwise, all three of us would still be shopping at “Flash” wine sites.

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