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10 best online wine shops: Red, white, sparkling or vintage delivered to your door

Looking to restock your cellar without leaving the sofa? Source a wide variety of tipples from these stores

Rosie Conroy
Friday 26 March 2021 17:43 GMT
From mass market household names to boutique bottle shops, we’re sure there’s an option for you
From mass market household names to boutique bottle shops, we’re sure there’s an option for you (iStock/The Independent)

While physical wine shops are all well and good, one of the most beautiful things to come out of the twenty-first century is that you can now type your wine wants into a search engine and, as if by magic, bottles will appear at your door. Now that is real service. 

Online wine shops are magical emporiums replete with handy digital features like filters that allow you to search by price, genre or occasion.

You know what that means? No more wandering the aisles trying to find the nicest label or the best discount thanks very much.

Plenty of places offer next day delivery too, for last minute panic gifting (because nothing says it better than a bottle of their favourite).

Plus, with detailed individual tasting notes and descriptions, even self-confessed wine novices can shop with confidence.

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When looking for the best online wine shops in the UK we searched high and low to bring you a variety of options, because there’s certainly no one size fits all in the world of wine.

From mass market household names to boutique bottle shops that specialise in a niche, we wanted to demonstrate the sheer breadth of the online wine shops out there in Britain today. Whether you’re looking to top-up your cellar or buy a present for someone special we’re sure there’s an option for you below.

Some of our favourites in this round-up are the independent options which are run by passionate oenophiles who have done all the hard work for you. The owners of these small-scale businesses personally pick top-class bottles and are on hand – even if that’s online and not in person – to answer all your questions.

They’re also adept at forging long-standing relationships with small-scale suppliers to bring you incredible wine that you simply can’t find on a supermarket shelf. Cheers to the little guy.

Love wine but don’t know where to start? The Independent Wine Club features curated cases from small growers and expert advice on how to enjoy wine. Sign up now for free.

Honest Grapes

(Honest Grapes)

Honest Grapes aims to act like your friendly high street wine merchants, except it brings the booze to you. While it’s not compulsory, membership is where the company comes into its own. Insiders are assigned a personal “wine guru”, and they mean personal (chats about what to pair with dinner over Whatsapp aren’t uncommon). Regular in life meet-ups – when pandemics allow – are a further draw and we loved the Taste Lab Kits which give you four half bottles, luxury snacks and a 15 minute video for a tasting that was fun and accessible.

While prices aren’t bargain basement level, that isn’t the point. The team here has worked tirelessly to create meaningful connections with suppliers who “have vineyards that look more like farmhouses than oil refineries” and they are meticulous about value. So, while bottles start from around £15, the careful sourcing ensures whatever the price you’ll be getting a bargain.

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Specialising in fine wines and champagnes (as well as spirits if you’re looking for a one stop shop), Clos19 holds a huge range of rare bottles and sought after vintages. It’s this combination that ensures its unparalleled niche in the online wine shop world.

Clos19 certainly isn’t the cheapest online shop we reviewed, but for premium wines it’s unbeatable. From the bottles we tried we loved the richly honeyed Dom Pérignon Vintage 2002 – Plénitude 2 which comes in its own box and dustbag, naturellement

As with many high-end retailers, it’s all in the detail, and that’s where Clos19 excels. Tasting notes, expert tips, food pairing recommendations, personalisation options, speedy delivery and beautiful wrapping means every step of the buying process a pleasurable one. Because of the premium presentation and selection of sophisticated brands, Clos19 makes a great gifting destination for both personal special occasions and business contacts.

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Headed up by award-winning sommelier Sandia Chang – who runs the two Michelin starred Kitchen Table – Bubbleshop specialises in “grower champagnes” from both experienced and lesser-known vineyards. For the uninitiated, “grower champagne” is made from the grapes of one vineyard, rather than a combination of fruits harvested from across the region – which is how big brands usually do things. This ensures bottles here have true terroir and typically a more singular character.

For having a rather small niche, Bubbleshop has a surprisingly large selection. We tried a rosé duo which gives you access to an informative masterclass where Sandia herself talks you through each bottle. For the £84 price point the duo represent good value for money, with the Bubbledogs label rosé being particularly pleasant, with sweet and sour cranberry hints and a distinct herbal edge. The accompanying pack of instructions and note-making paper adds a pretty, personalised touch.

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Berry Bros & Rudd

(Berry Bros & Rudd)

With two royal warrants and a 300 year history, we could hardly talk about the best wine shops without mentioning the inimitable Berry Bros & Rudd. As the UK’s oldest family-run wine shop, Berry Bros & Rudd was founded in 1698 and retains its wonderful historical gravitas without neglecting modern sensibilities.

Virtual wine tastings allow you to be guided by experts who arrange wine and all accoutrement to be delivered beforehand and the service – whatever you’re purchasing – is truly “bend over backward”. Holding a large range of both own-label and carefully sourced fine wines and champagnes (as well as its own much-lauded gin), this isn’t the place for bargain bottles, but it does hold a reasonable quantity of options around the £10 mark. Our top pick? The award winning own-label 2017 Californian zinfandel, which at £32.95 a bottle levels up impressively with competitors and is rich with red fruit, balanced with the punch of pepper.

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Passione Vino

(Passione Vino)

They say people buy from people, and one man whose ebullient personality has been pulling the punters in for 16 years is Luca Dusi. His enthusiasm is infectious and his online wine shop feels more like a special secret club than a mainstream mass market cellar.

Majoring in natural wines, Luca supplies some of London’s best restaurants (including Hélène Darroze at The Connaught and The River Cafe). While the website isn’t as slick and easily navigable as others in our list of favourites, it does allow you to search by type and the ever-helpful team are on hand if you need assistance. Additionally, virtual wine-tastings allow you to explore the low-intervention bottles à la mode – which by the way, apparently give you less of a hangover. We can’t confirm or deny that, but we can recommend the 2017 Isidor Manzoni Bianco which brought a light waxiness and the tartness of green apple.

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New Breed Bottle Shop

(New Breed Bottle Shop)

With a punchy mission to “change the face of drinks retail”, New Breed Bottle Shop in Loughton prides itself on sourcing unusual wines that are often natural, low intervention, and biodynamic. With a clutch of Michelin starred restaurants as customers already, it’s not just us that think New Breed has a strong pedigree.

The website is simple to navigate, and while the selection may not be vast, each bottle has been hand selected by owners Neil and Mikey who carefully curate their ever-changing stocklist. We were particularly impressed with the orange wine selection which showcases small-scale vineyards, with Slobodne – based in Slovakia – supposedly a favourite of Ottolenghi himself. The only downsides here is that popular vintages regularly sellout, but if you’re happy to be flexible New Breed gives you a great way to enjoy interesting wines you’d struggle to find anywhere else. Hand-written tasting notes with each order adds a sweet personal touch.

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The Wine Society

(The Wine Society)

What makes The Wine Society different to other online wine shops in the UK is that it’s a co-operative, so you’re required to join the club. The good news is it’s a one off payment of £40, with you getting £20 back immediately to spend on the good stuff. Profits are reinvested, and because its independent buyers are looking for great wine at the best prices, rather than searching for big margins.

It has repeatedly won online wine retailer of the year from big name experts and offers more than just a shop – with wide-ranging guides online. The award winning selection of bottles has a good range under £7, so filling your cellar won’t break the bank. A standout for us was the 2020 Duo Des Mers sauvignon-viognier, which while young, was surprisingly resilient when accompanied by spicy food and was crisp and refreshing on the palate.

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Waitrose Cellars

(Waitrose Cellar)

Don’t be fooled by the big name, Waitrose Cellars is anything but mainstream. While the online shop does hold all the bottles available in the supermarket’s stores, it also includes rare bottles and tiny-scale one-off wines too, all expertly curated by Master of Wine Xenia Ruscombe-King. The dedicated site is easy to navigate, while the benefit of ordering from an established business is that there are multiple delivery options from nominated day through to click and collect.

Part of the appeal are the Cellar exclusives which include limited edition bottles like On The QT Bin 23 Cabernet Dorsa made from a little-known grape variety. Rich and juicy, this – we found – was a match for comfort food classics like steaks and stews. Further perks? Competitive pricing, virtual wine tasting services and omnipresent offers.

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Naked Wines

(Naked Wine)

Buying from Naked Wine isn’t like buying from most online wine shops. When you load your account with money – which you’re free to use at any time – the team invests this by backing independent winemakers. Cutting out the middleman (and the money he might spend on marketing etc) means fair pricing and unique access to boutique brands that you won’t find on the high street. New sign ups get £30 credit, and once you’ve bought a few wines and used the feedback forms the system will start recommending wines based on your profile. It’s clever and concise, and we like that other users’ reviews and winemaker comments are collated alongside info like how much the equivalent bottle would be at market price.

A Virgile Joly Merlot 2019 we tried was a perfect example of what Naked Wines does best – a plum-rich red made by a passionate producer that comes with its own loyal fanbase.

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House of Townend

(House of Townend)

Award winning House of Townend is a heritage family-owned cellar in the heart of Yorkshire which happily also ships nationwide from their online wine shop to now allow non-Northerns access to its listings. While the offering may be digital as well as physical, the personal values endure with friendly tailored service given top priority.

When it comes to the wines themselves the En Primeur service is exciting, allowing you to purchase coveted wines before their general release – a pre-sale of sorts which ensures you get your hands on some of the world’s finest vintages while they’re still in the barrel. This means no price surge and guaranteed access. The enduring strong ties with producers means fair pricing and a regular “offers” section which represents excellent value for money.

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The verdict: Online wine shops 

For unmatched enthusiasm and tailored service, we can’t fault Honest Grapes. When you sign up you become part of a pre-made social group and the wines are so carefully curated it takes the pressure off you to choose something “good” – everything we tried was a little too easy to drink. If you have a bit more to spend and want something special then Clos19 is unrivalled in terms of a luxury offering – the perfect destination for special occasions sips.

Bored of your go-to? These are the best natural wine subscriptions to sign up for

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