Online Wine Shopping in PA

October 23rd, 2011

Though many proponents of privatizing liquor sales in PA thought that 2011 was the best opportunity for this to happen in some time, Harrisburg insiders are now saying that talks on the issue have cooled and is unlikely to happen in the near future. To quickly summarize, there are more important issues on the state docket for the rest of this year, and many feel that 2012 will be an unlikely year for the bill due to re-election for all house members. (For more info on this developing news, go here). On the other hand, Governor Corbett has finally gone public with a report on the issue (story).

Fear not, lover of wine who happens to live in this state. Many online wine shops have quietly begun shipping to Pennsylvania addresses (likely based on the 2005 Supreme Court ruling that our state’s law is illegal, even though it has never been officially changed). Though this was an absolute anomaly a few years ago, it is now somewhat easy to find wine online that can be shipped to your door.

There are drawbacks, of course. Firstly, there is no brick & mortar presence. If you need a last minute bottle, you’re certainly out of luck. If you want to have a conversation with a wine expert (not that you can currently do that in our state stores), you’re also out of luck (though some may offer it via email).

The second major issue is shipping. Shipping wine is not like shipping DVDs. It is expensive. Many sites offer shipping sales or free shipping with a large purchase (i.e. 6 bottles, $200, etc.), but that often revolves around buying the wine that is on sale or featured. If you want to seek out a specific wine, expect to pay high S&H prices or wait around and hope you catch a shipping deal.

The other problem with shipping is exposure to the elements. Wines, especially ones meant to age, do not respond well to extreme heat or cold. Though most reputable wine merchants attempt to avoid shipping during these times, UPS and/or FedEx are not as careful, so almost all wine shipments have some risk of poor handling. Your best bet is to order during the Spring and Fall when temperatures are mild, though this too requires some advance planning.

ProTip 1: Ship directly to UPS Store or FedEx/Kinkos – this way the package will not spend a lot of time in a residential truck. Especially helpful if you aren’t home to sign for it during the day.

ProTip 2: Order from East Coast vendors when you can – less time in transit.

Read on to find out where to shop…

Flash Sale Sites:

Flash sales are websites that sell a single item (or small selection of items) at a time, for a discounted price, until they sell out. These are all the rage online right now (see also), and wine has carved out a nice little niche. Sign up for emails or follow these sites on Twitter or Facebook to find out when the offers change. Most offer free shipping with a minimum purchase (2-6 bottles, depending on price).

Regular Sites:

These are your typical online shops that specialize in Wine. It’s harder to come by shipping deals, although most usually have a sale of some kind at any given moment.

  • Wine.com
  • Zachys
  • Wine Library
  • Wine Access (headquarters are in Narberth, interestingly. This is actually an umbrella site that manages inventory for many smaller wine shops. Not all ship to PA, but some do. They also have an email deals newsletter that does always ship to PA)
  • Pop’s Wine & Spirits ($1/bottle shipping to PA!)

Know of others? Let us know in the comments.

Note: We cannot confirm with absolute certainty that all of these vendors will ship to PA or, even if they do, that it is legal to do so (or to receive the shipment). This is merely a list that we’ve compiled through internet research (mostly by looking up the shipping policy on each site). Shop at your own risk.

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