Amazon.com opens online wine marketplace, partners with wineries

As if shopping on Amazon.com needed to get any more dangerous: The online retailer will now start selling wine in a dedicated section on its site, just in time for the holidays.

Visitors to Amazon Wine will have access to more than 1,000 wines from wineries nationwide. Bottle prices range from less than $10 to more than $100, plus shipping costs of $9.99 for up to six bottles.

Amazon will serve as a sort of middle man and discovery center, partnering with wineries that provide the wine and use the online marketplace to raise awareness for their brands and make sales.

The wineries will provide tasting notes, recommended food pairings, alcohol content data and other information to be posted on the site. Customers can fine-tune their wine searches by filtering results for winery location, professional ratings and more.

“It is rare to have detailed information and opinions located all in one place,” Tom Hedges of Hedges Family Estate in Washington said in a statement. “What Amazon has done with their new wine store is take the experience of hundreds of tasting rooms and put them online.”

For now, wines will be shipped only to a dozen states as well as to Washington, D.C. Each winery operates under a distinct set of permits, which determines the states to which it can ship.

And underage drinkers can forget about using the service for an illegal binge. Amazon Wine requires both buyer and recipient to be over age 21 and will deliver only to adults, not to P.O. boxes or Amazon Lockers.

Wine has been available online for years through purveyors such as Wine.com, Winex.com and more.

This week, as if preparing to compete with Amazon Wine, Wine.com announced the similar Wine.com Marketplace after a soft launch earlier this year.

The wine retailer, currently the largest of its kind online with more than 2.5 million shipments a year, will handle all marketing, customer service, sales and delivery for participating wines.

Most of the wines come from wineries with limited distribution ability, which through Wine.com Marketplace will now have access to consumers in 20 states. Wine.com has traditionally bought its stock from wholesalers.

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