- Written by Nick Breeze (@NickGBreeze) Nick Breeze (@NickGBreeze)
- Published: 02 December 2016 02 December 2016
Looking for a new horizon of wine buying adventure? Discover your vinous Indiana Jones alter ego by venturing into online auction, GrapePip.com
Auctions are a funny thing; intimidating to those who have never been, whilst intoxicating and addictive to those that buy from them. Sales of wine online are rising exponentially and all the consumer buying data suggests huge growth potential. But what does that mean for us drinkers?
I hadn’t given the wine auction model much thought until I had lunch with Caspar Bowes, CEO of Grape Pip, the “Ebay for wine” (his words). He explained that Grape Pip isn’t really rocket science, but it does have a place in the landscape of wine buying. As we chatted I started to see his point. The wine drinker may have a few regular benchmark bottles that are ordered with reassuring regularity, but there's also another very human desire we hanker after, a mental itch perhaps, that needs satiating: adventure.
The beauty of auction buying is that you are momentarily suspended into the realm of the treasure hunter. The idea of the great unknown, or in this case, the great undrunk, is the driving motivation to scour long listings looking for small parcels of joy. The adventure lies in the bargain buying but also in the quest for tasting new experiences.
Fine Wine or Fools Gold?
Of course the auction has always been a place of inherent risk. My rock solid example is Roger Moore in the 80’s Bond classic, Octopussy. Bond buys the famed faberge egg only to find out that he has been duped. Luckily he was bidding with taxpayers money so it didn’t matter but that’s not the case for the rest of us!
Although much has been made of faking bluechip wines in books such as Billionaire’s Vinegar, or, more recently, the documentary ‘Sour Grapes’, the real concern for many is how the wines have been stored. An old bottle with mottled label may look the bee’s knees but if it’s hanging around under the former owners stairs next to the boiler for ten years, then the buyer may get a bout of disappointment when it is uncorked.
I put this question of risk to Caspar who inhales confidently from his glass of 2009 Domaine Morey-Coffinet Morgeot Fairendes, Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru, and goes onto explain that only fine wine that has full provenance can find its way into the listings (I’m quite sure he has the same policy for his glass too). Grape Pip claims to be very stringent in its adherence to this policy as a best practice to protect the customer. Afterall, adventures can at times turn awry but in this instance, we’d prefer our rejection of a wine to be based on preference of style or taste than because it tastes of bitter cardboard.
So I set off to checkout the site for myself and thought that I’d begin by price checking what’s in the listings with Wine-Searcher.com’s copious volumes of international records. I was actually relieved to see that Grape Pip had second guessed this step and actually put a link on the listing page so that I could bring it straight up. The wines I checked certainly did represent a bargain in the auction and I was starting to whet my thirst for… well, port… and burgundy…. and, and, and….
Going once, going twice…
Since lunching with Caspar I have been away quite a it but am looking forward to getting online over the Christmas period and placing an order that will be delivered in time for when January’s boil of abstinence will need to be lanced. It’s cold outside and I do have port on my mind so that will be my foray order. I am going to get some mates to have a go too and am looking forward to reporting on their feedback sometime soon.
If you have a try then please email your feedback to be added to the mix!
You can conduct your own due diligence here: www.grapepip.com or...
For a slightly more interesting Christmas gift voucher: https://www.grapepip.com/p/Vouchers
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