Sheri Hebbeln
March 30, 2010 | eCommerce , Merchandising , Site Design and Management | Sheri Hebbeln

Selling Your Wine Online to Someone Who Has Never Tried It

Wine is an experience…… in the same way that a gourmet meal or a luxury vacation is an experience. And because it’s an experience, the challenges in selling wine online are much greater than they are for commodities, which can often be sold based on price alone. That fact shouldn’t deter you, though, because it can be done. And in fact, if you understand the differences, it can be a whole lot more fun.

How do you sell an experience?

First, you need to engage the senses. Create a vivid image whereby your visitors can imagine themselves enjoying your wine. This is something best accomplished through exceptional copy and photography, not only on your product detail pages, but throughout your website.


The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. –Mark Twain

Although it’s tempting to copy and paste wine notes or vineyard notes into your product descriptions, it’s important to remember that the product teaser and description are often your only opportunity to capture the attention and imagination of your visitors. Web visitors have short attention spans so your words should be chosen carefully, with an eye toward attention to detail. Your website may be the first and only opportunity you have to make an impression. Spelling and grammar errors will cause a lack of confidence or trust in your brand. And product descriptions which are too technical and lack personality will cause visitors to leave just as quickly as they arrived.

As an example, these are two very different product descriptions I found for sparkling wine.

  1. Champagne is a sparkling wine produced by inducing the in-bottle secondary fermentation of wine to effect carbonation.
  2. ………a shimmery coppery gold in the glass, with a gentle stream of tiny bubbles. Powerful and complex aromas of raspberry and fresh cut red apple are accentuated by appealing notes of cardamom and oak spice.

And here are two product descriptions for Chardonnay. Assuming you have no previous experience with the brand, which one captures your interest?

  1. The grapes for this wine are grown in an extremely difficult area – composed of rock and gravel. The yields are very low, as the vines must struggle greatly just to survive.
  2. This gorgeous Chardonnay defines the concept of synergy, and it beautifully expresses the character of its distinctive vineyard and wonderfully ripe vintage. The aromas are a lovely mélange of lemon custard, fresh apple and toasted coconut, with just a hint of pineapple: a fruit and oak combination that is as exquisitely balanced as it is luxurious.

And just for fun, here’s something I found on the Dove Chocolate site - yum.

“As you unwrap your DOVE® Chocolate, note the aroma. Take the same care in experiencing the smell of your wine. Swirl the wine in your glass, then sniff it lightly to sample the bouquet. Break a piece of DOVE® Chocolate, then place the chocolate on your tongue and let it luxuriate and coat your entire mouth. As the chocolate taste envelopes your senses, take a sip of wine. Notice the subtle layers of flavors from the two tastes mingling together in a truly sensual experience.”

I just may need to stop on the way home and buy some DOVE® Chocolate to enjoy with my wine this evening.


The primary purpose of the imagery on your website is to complement your words as they gently guide visitors through the buying process. Each image, whether product photography or images used elsewhere on the site, should aid in creating the experience you are trying to convey through your copy. Professional photography showing people enjoying your wines coupled with high quality product shots will go a long way toward guiding the purchase decision. Conversely, sloppy or unattractive pictures may actually hurt in your efforts.

I love this image I found on the Tamber Bey site.


Kudos to Mumm Napa for the lovely description of their 2004 DVX Rosé and to Chasseur for their 2007 Chasseur Rued Chardonnay description.




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