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  • Jancis Robinson
Written by
  • Jancis Robinson
20 Sep 2010

I have written an overview of the main wine price comparison sites but thought that you might find a bit more detail useful.  Below are some of the facts, figures and opinions I have assembled on this subject. I have divided them into sites primarily designed for wine lovers/amateurs and those aimed at professionals and investors.

FOR CONSUMERS


www.wine-searcher.com
The market leader, set up in 1999 and now based in New Zealand with a staff of 20 3,966,654 wine offers and 18,085 wine stores when I last checked but increasing steadily Extremely basic but workmanlike design Lots of fields, designed to make the site as useful as possible for the user Designed for regular consumers  Truly international – maybe a little weak in Asia? $, £, Euro, Swiss Franc, Aus$, Can$, NZ$, HK$, Yen, Sing$, SA Rand No ratings though there are lists of top wine recommendations (including my 20-pointers), min/max price, by case or bottle, auction or not Ads and featured retailers – retailer listings are free but merchants have to pay if they want to appear frequently  Policing retailers is a major duty: banning for six months those who lure customers with 'ghost' bargains
Pro version at $29.95 per year is necessary if you want listings from retailers other than the featured ones See this LA Times profile  

www.vinopedia.com

  • Set up in the last few years by two wine lovers in IT who now work for it full time in the Netherlands
  • 1,557,581 wine offers
  • Very simple, clean, modern design with one search box on pale pink
  • Designed for regular wine consumers – lots of stockists and lots of price comparison
  • Tabs allow searchers to choose either US, Canada or Europe
  • $, £, Euro, Swiss Franc
  • Wine Spectator ratings are also included for each wine
  • Searches by minimum score are possible
  • Price drops and most popular searches by category (though rarely vintage) on the home page
  • Free
  • Income from advertising and from paid listings. For smaller stores, a listing is free, but the big ones that receive a lot of traffic are required to pay 

www.globalwinestocks.com
Founded in 2005 and still run by programmer Eric McGee outside Montreal, Canada, with a staff of three, once over 20 6 million wine offers from 20,000 retailers claimed Truly global and designed primarily for the wine trade eg their data underpins www.wineprices.com on Vinfolio Currently being revamped  By no means beautiful – all wine names are in capitals Each listing is dated, really dated sometimes! The basic information is free to consumers Income from selling data and systems to others presumably
www.snooth.com

Founded by ex-wine trade Philip James in 2006 and launched in New York in 2007 11,000 retailers and over 1 million wines with 2 million reviews Brilliant search engine optimisation so that it features strongly in many Google searches Part of Philip’s motivation was apparently that he ‘realised that the wine industry was hopelessly fragmented — with neither a standardised naming system nor a centralised repository of information’ but in fact Snooth suffers from messy wine descriptions  (eg Forts de Latour is different supposedly from Forts de Latour Pauillac), which when I looked was apparently just $52 a bottle at ‘Berry Bro’s & Rudd’ (sic) according to Snooth when in fact it was £162 $ only but merchants in 10 different countries If you click on ‘Learn more about this wine’s winery’ you too often get the message ‘We don't have much information about this winery' There’s one general para that covers all the Médoc wines, for example There are genuine attempts to impose a social media overlay on the site and to build up a community feel, which differentiates it from Wine-searcher User tags re Forts 1995: fruit, berry, velvet, black currant, chateau, closed, astringent, clean  Income presumably from ads and deals with the likes of Conde Nast, Time Inc, AMEX Publishing and Yahoo! I wonder how closely they inspect Snooth's search results?
www.wineaccess.com

  • Established by Jim Weinrott in the US early this century
  • 100+ retailers, all in the US (so presumably they pay for the privilege?)
  • Real-time price and availability information
  • Marketing services provided to some of these retailers
  • WineAccess is also the host for Stephen Tanzer’s independent wine information, International Wine Cellar 
  • Special offers of wine now made, and which provide a major income stream, so presumably the information given is not 100% independent

www.winealert.com


  • Founded by Julian Berkin in the US for the US early in 2001
  • Good network of US retailers, but this is an exclusively American site. About 200 retailers, most in the US.  About 400,000 listings.
  • In 2005 the service was completely absorbed into the American critic’s website www.eRobertParker.com, which has increased traffic considerably


www.winezap.com

  • US only
  • Only paying retailers are listed
  • Sets its cap at younger (American) wine lovers
  • Poor consistency (and spelling) in wine names
  • Very broad presentation of results, so much so that you could get neck ache reading them
  • Tries to be hip with videos and reviews and featured new members  – good effort
  • There’s also a forum but it seems little used 

www.classicwines.com
US only Very much a wine retailer so the information is not 100% independent Very American  Presentation of results in this case seems too narrow, even though there is not much on either side except a caricature of Michelangelo’s David Confusing – all merchants seem to have the same price but they are featured only one at a time
www.winefetch.com
Includes retailers in US, UK (and England!), France, Germany, Canada $, ,£, euros Much clearer layout than Classic wines or Winezap ‘Ship to which state?’ option, which is useful But the order of results seems random and not changeable Doesn’t tell you how many bottles the price relates to (one or a dozen?), or just how much wine each contains
www.vinquire.com

  • Founded in 2005 and based in San Francisco
  • More than 1 million wines and spirits
  • Claims to use ‘our unique crawl technology’
  • Users are encouraged to browse wines by varietal, from Acolon (0 wines) to Zweigeltrebe (0 wines)
  • Social networking bells and whistles added to the site
  • Retailers charged for listings: $200 a year for a basic listing but much more for an ‘enhanced’ listing
  • Advertising provides another revenue stream

www.drinkprice.com

All-British site at the beta (test) stage in Sep 2010 Not just wine but all alcoholic drinks Social media model with an attempt at 'independent' reviews and videos, clearly aimed at those in their 20s and 30s Specials offers such as £50 off Armand de Brignac Gold, bringing the per bottle price below £200!

www.vindicateur.fr

Modest if well-intentioned entirely French site dating from 2007

12,500 French wines available from just seven different merchants

Strong emphasis on wine reviews, from both professionals and amateurs

Clear design


FOR INVESTORS/PROFESSIONALS
www.liv-ex.com

  • For collectors and, especially, fine-wine traders
  • '5.6 million lines of data, including trade-to-trade transactions, auction hammer prices and merchant list prices. Data sourced from 320 merchants in 26 countries (and 21 different auction houses)', who together, according to Liv-ex, account for more than 80% of global fine-wine turnover 
  • Online trading platform.  Price spread. No stockists
  • Sevenmajor currencies but no geographical indication of where stocks lie
  • Liv-ex Price Watch supplies limited merchant list price data but the meat of the thing costs from £49.95 a year with the ability to track specific wines

www.wineprices.com

 

  • US only, $ only
  • Apparently based on GlobalWineStocks technology and displayed on Vinfolio.com’s collectors’ section
  • Auction history given, with average prices of different vintages – but no stockists other than Vinfolio
  • The US retail average price for the last 12 months is also given
  • Links to tasting notes of various wine websites, including JancisRobinson.com 
  • Best for red bordeaux and California wine
  • Lots of jazzy fine-wine indices  
  • Very clean design but lots of gaps
  • Free but fairly skeletal