Complete Guide to Buying Wine Online in South Africa

Buying wine online saves you time and money. We asked Fiona Rossiter, founder of Inspired Living, to share tips on all the points you need to consider.

Complete Guide to Buying Wine Online in South Africa

Lockdown in South Africa brought about a host of new normals, one being the accelerated adoption of online shopping. With restrictions on our movement and the limitations on in-person shopping, many retailers moved to online offerings to overcome this, especially in the case of buying wine online.

In light of ongoing alcohol bans, the move to online wine shopping became even more critical. Online offerings now vary from wine-specific websites, online retail shops, high-end wine merchants to wine farms and estates. This has opened up a whole new world and host of benefits for wine enthusiasts.


Buying wine online not only saves you time but can also be beneficial to your budget. You can also access a wider variety of wines from a large selection of wineries. Furthermore, seeing as many websites offer reviews and tasting notes, you can take your time in making better-informed decisions when buying wine


It’s advisable to research which online wine store is best for you.


How To Choose Your Online Wine Shop

Numerous websites offer online wine and alcohol sales; choosing the right one can be daunting. So it’s advisable to research which one is best for you. Things to look out for include:

  • Delivery fees and lead times.
  • Special offers and discounts, especially on bulk orders, and the ability to buy mixed cases.
  • Wine tasting notes and reviews.


Delivery Fees and Lead Times Unpacked

Delivery fees can vary depending on how many bottles you order and where you live; outlying areas often incur a surcharge. There is also the possibility of certain retailers offering complimentary shipping on large orders.


Special Offers, Discounts and Mixed Cases

Certain websites require you to purchase a minimum of six bottles of each wine, while many have the option of buying mixed cases. Buying in bulk also has its benefits – sometimes there are discounts connected to buying a case.

In addition to websites dedicated to selling alcohol and wine, many major retail outlets offer wine sales via their online platforms or apps. For example, the Checkers Sixty 60 App offers a great selection of wines across many price points, making it so simple to add a few bottles of wine to your weekly grocery order.


Wine Tasting Notes and Reviews

Websites such as Port 2 Port have niched themselves as offering the widest selection of fine wines. Their wines range from R100 per bottle to well into the thousands. They also provide a click-through link to both Tim Atkin and Platter’s Wine Guide on their website, helping you navigate your wine selection.


Buying Online From Estates and Farms

This can be the most rewarding way of buying your wine. Not only can you get your favourite wine delivered to you, but you can engage with farms directly, enjoying a richer experience of interacting with the estate, knowing that your hard-earned money goes directly to the farm and farmworkers of your choice.

If you are familiar with wine and know what you are looking for, it is often more convenient to buy online directly from the farm or estate. Most estates can facilitate online sales and door-to-door delivery. The benefits include:

  • Cellar Door prices.
  • Special offers.
  • Comprehensive tasting notes.
  • Wine club membership with rewards programmes and engagement.
  • Add-ons such as gift vouchers and other wine merchandise.
  • Direct engagement with the farm’s quality programme (in the case that you get the dreaded “corked wine”).

Alvi’s Drift offers wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs a fantastic selection at affordable prices with a rich customer experience. Choose from the Signature Range (costing under R100 per bottle) to the premium Icon Range to add to your wine collection.


What To Look For When Buying Wine Online

Wine selection is generally a personal decision, but there are a few factors to consider when making a choice.

Whilst the most expensive does not always equate to being the best, price is, however, something to consider – a factor more within your control, with less pressure, when shopping for wine online.

The occasion can also dictate the type of wine selected and how much you are willing to spend – as can the company (date, family, anniversary) as well as time of the year. Buying wine online gives one the opportunity to consider and even research this more thoughtfully, to make the best possible decision.

If lockdown has taught us anything, it is to celebrate life and enjoy every moment. In other words, life is too short to drink bad wine!


Understanding Tasting Notes

As with deciding which online offering to choose, it is vital to do a bit of research before adding anything to your cart. Most websites worth their salt will have detailed wine tasting notes and, in some cases, customer reviews.


If you are a wine newbie, tasting notes may seem a bit daunting at first, but it can be as simple as considering the types of flavours you enjoy.


For instance, whether you prefer sweet or dry wine will largely determine the wine varietal you choose. If you prefer dry white wine, a sauvignon blanc is the wine to consider. In comparison, a muscat is more applicable if you prefer a sweeter wine.

Alvi’s Drift gold-winning wines at the Veritas Awards.


Wine Awards

Another indicator to consider when purchasing wine is to look for award labels or to help inform your decision, consult a wine guide, such as Platter’s Wine Guide, Top Wine, or Tim Atkins if you are looking for an international perspective. Platter’s, the go-to wine guide for South African wines and estates, offers excellent wine reviews in print and digital format.

In 2021, Alvi’s Drift received several notable awards including multiple golds in the Veritas Awards and Sommelier Choice Awards – where the wine farm was also honoured with the Wine of the Year status for wines out of South Africa.


Good Quality Wine At Affordable Prices

Luckily in South Africa, there is a fantastic selection of good quality wines at affordable prices. Finding a wine that offers real quality at a good price is the trick. While many estates will try to convince you that their products are great at very low prices, there really is a minimum price for quality wine.

Scale of the farm does matter when it comes to price, but bigger co-operatives come with bigger overheads which get passed to the customer. “Great price” wines from large commercial operations will need to still make a profit – meaning that the farms will be getting lower prices for their grapes which means quality will suffer. Look out for large, family run operations whose vineyards support their own production – there are some real nuggets in the greater Breede River area and Swartland, which has largely been overlooked by consumers.

Alvi’s Drift is one such farm and the Signature Range is a perfect, easy-drinking option that won’t break the bank. If you’re looking for something a little more unique or for a special occasion, try the 221 Range.


The Benefits of Buying Wine Online

Shopping for wine online is a win-win situation! Not only are you supporting the local wine industry, but you can enjoy fantastic wine with friends and family (and brush up on the all-important back story to sound like a connoisseur), all without leaving the comfort of your home.

Add to this the ability to access a wide variety of wines, from easy-drinking options to premium fine wines, at the click of a button.

Buying wine online is a great way to broaden your horizons by exploring new wines and different varietals from a host of estates and farms. Having access to tasting notes can also help increase your wine knowledge and give you more confidence when selecting a wine. As farms become more sophisticated, they are learning to recognise and reward the people that support them – and they use their sales data to inform them. This can give you access to unique and exclusive offers and interaction – such as private cellar tours or farm experiences that you would not enjoy buying anywhere else.

All of this adds up to better wine selection, which makes for enhanced and far more enjoyable experiences and occasions.


Join the Alvi’s Drift Family

Ready to browse our wines online? Head over to our online shop. For extra benefits, scroll down to sign up for our monthly newsletter, The Drift, and be the first to know about our special offers.


Founder of, Fiona loves sharing her wine knowledge with others. One of her favourite quotes, "Life is too short to drink bad wine" sums it up perfectly. Living in South Africa, she is fortunate to have access to one of the world's best wine regions.

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