The definition of wine authority has evolved over the past several decades.
It originally was designed as a position for the elite only. This could be a sommelier who specialized in wine and food pairings or a wine critic who had twenty-plus years under their belt judging wine businesses.
These days wine authority takes the form of more accessible education and an evolving perspective on what wine offers people’s lives.
If you’re getting into wine and want to know who you can rely on to help you learn the craft inside and out, below are the best eight wine review websites for you to browse.
1. Wine Folly
Why shouldn’t wine be fun? This is a common issue that stops many from getting into wine in the first place: the omnipresent perception of the culture as stuffy, dry, and designed to make you fall asleep whether or not you’re actually drinking.
Wine Folly would beg to differ. They remain one of my absolute favorite wine review websites for their snappy presentation and wealth of fascinating wine topics. Ever wondered what the dominant wine grape of France is and how it developed its unique reputation as a varietal and a wine type? Have you considered the best risotto recipes for your white wine bottles? You name it, they have an engaging piece to expand your wine world.
The first piece I read by them was their breakdown on tempranillo, a robust grape varietal native to Spain recommended to me by one of my colleagues. I soon found myself getting lost in the plethora of engaging educational pieces, how-to guides, and seasonal lists. Each piece is supplemented with useful infographics to divide and conquer the sheer volume of wine terminology, drinking tips, and classification you’re learning. The site updates on a regular basis and currently boasts two wine books for your bookshelf. I haven’t even touched on the wine tasting courses.
Wine Folly is among the best wine review websites out there. They’re the very definition of a rabbit hole that will soon have you clicking on another piece an hour and a half later.
2. Wine Traveler
The only thing better than a delectable glass of wine is a beautiful vista to admire while you’re sipping it. This is the foundation of many a wine trip around the globe, whether you’re on the Napa Valley wine train or globetrotting across Europe.
Wine Traveler wants to make sure you’re enjoying your trip to the fullest, crafting an entire site dedicated to the art of traveling to get tipsy. They divide their content into the regions you want to visit, the wineries on display, and various articles on the finer details of enjoying a good glass. The pieces I look forward to the most are their interviews, and subsequent overviews, with wine producers across the globe. It’s fascinating to learn about the passion behind the project and what differentiates one winery from the other. Until you can go on an in-person wine tour, this is a solid way to stay invested.
If you’re still hankering for bite-sized lists or quick recipe ideas, however, they will more than whet your appetite. They have a list of the top ten wine regions to visit once travel resumes next year, for starters, or this scrumptious list on how to properly pair wine and pizza. Keep up with their weekly updated blog or subscribe to their free email newsletter for reminders. They’re all about convenience, remember, and want to ensure you’re getting a steady feed of quality wine information no matter where you are.
Pair your love of wanderlust and wine with Wine Traveler. They’re an in-depth compendium of modern wine producers and global wineries with a dash of convenience.
3. Vine Pair
Staple websites earn their reputation article by painstaking article. They create trust through informative pieces that properly cite their sources and a commitment to entertaining content you can’t wait to share.
So arrives Vine Pair, a household name for anyone with even a passing interest in wine (or beer and spirits). A special mention has to go to their punchy and stylish web design, separating their pieces with solid blocks of color and a smooth user interface that makes you feel like you’re flipping through the pages of a magazine. Many of these articles are crafted with original illustrations and poppy photography, letting you know you’re about to read something special. They pair their style with substance (see what I did there?) with interesting lists, insightful interviews, and a constant stream of fresh news.
Get caught up in the wine industry by learning about emerging wine regions around the world competing with established titans. They have a podcast if you need something to listen to while you’re doing at-home jazzercise repetitions. If you’re interested in coffee, beer, and spirits, they’ve divided their site into sections separated by drink type. They even go the extra mile to have tabs for recipes, 101-style breakdowns, and black-owned businesses. One way or another, it’s hard not to be utterly satisfied after an hour or two reading.
The only reason I don’t sign up for their newsletter is because I’m already visiting weekly of my own volition. Vine Pair is a site that makes wine a thrilling experience with something new around every corner. Today’s wine marketers could learn a lot from them.
It’s an average day where I’m criticizing the exclusionary atmosphere of wine spaces and the hole it has dug itself in a changing drinking landscape. Many drinkers today couldn’t care less about price points or being able to rattle off a thousand terms in five minutes.
If you’re one of many who want to dispense with the old and bring in the new, Reverse Wine Snob has your back. From the name onward they make it very clear where their stance is concerning wine. They offer a solid foundation of wine reviews and best-of lists, all with a guarantee for low prices matched with quality. They also specify many of the grocery stores and outlets you can find these bottles so you’re not left in the dust. These are the kinds of things I actively keep in mind when buying wine myself, rarely going beyond my personal threshold of $35.
Wine ideology is shifting with the times and it helps to have a quality website that matches that view. You don’t need to break the bank to enjoy a good bottle of merlot, no more than you have to globetrot to appreciate the craft that goes into your purchase. In fact, you may just be located next to a few nearby wineries that could really use your support! Their Best French Wines Under $20 is just one example of a perfect list for the budget-conscious drinker, with each bottle coming with a detailed and thoughtful review.
Who cares if the bottle doesn’t exceed $20? It’s the quality and care that really matters at the end of the day. Reverse Wine Snob is your ace in the hole when you want to enjoy amazing wine without feeling guilty about the price tag.
Wine just isn’t complete without a platter of snacks or a savory dish to compliment it. In fact, I’m currently building a charcuterie to go with a local red blend.
Food And Wine is another household name that promises to squeeze every last ounce of potential out of your bottle. They have columns for news, recipes, events, travel, and kitchens, just to name a handful, and constantly churn out high-quality pieces that are easy to breeze through. My favorite column would have to be their drinks section (unsurprisingly): they’re very fond of lists and always pique my curiosity without fail with their headlines. Kick-off your holiday celebrations with their list of proseccos or donate to a good cause with their charitable wine list.
A major factor that contributes to Food And Wine’s success is their keen eye for modern tools. Video has been the gamechanger for online publications, allowing creators to make content that’s informative without being a slog. The vast majority of their articles come with brief, poppy videos that rarely go beyond a few minutes in length. They summarize the piece nicely for those on-the-go and provide another way of getting involved for those that want to give reading a break.
Relevant and modernized, Food And Wine is a publication that you’re likely already reading. If not, trust that you’ll be well taken care of.
6. Wine Enthusiast
It’s exactly what it says on the tin. Wine Enthusiast (also known as Wine Mag) is for the drinker who celebrates each newly purchased bottle as an event. You’re not just trying to get buzzed: you want to categorize every sip by aroma, mouthfeel, and flavor note.
It’s rare that I buy a bottle of wine without consulting Wine Enthusiast first. This site is very useful for when you’re faced with a dozen options and are trying to narrow down a purchase. It’s one thing to see the list of flavor notes on the back of a bottle. It’s another thing entirely to supplement your search with some keen critic reviews designed to give you a second opinion. Now, you do have to sign up for their free email newsletter to get their full range of reviews, but that’s a small effort for one of today’s most reliable online wine compendiums.
Just how far back does Wine Enthusiast go? They’ve been putting together yearly wine award lists, with their 2020 Wine Star Award Winners list just recently going up. These are highly comprehensive and tally up the most exemplary people, regions, importers, retailers, and bottles of the year. If you want to be even more up-to-date, they now have a COVID-19 tab that keeps you informed on how the wine industry is faring. For me, being invested in wine means keeping an ear to the ground on what’s going on behind-the-scenes.
While they are first and foremost a wine and spirit review website, Wine Enthusiast still has a steady stream of relevant news, attention-grabbing articles, and think pieces to keep you grounded.
7. Total Wine
Need a second opinion…or a third one? Wine review websites aren’t just useful for purchasing a nice sparkling wine, but as a resource to gather up a customer review aggregate.
Total Wine leads the charge as today’s dependable wine resource for purchases and personal experiences. Some of the best wine suggestions I’ve ever gotten weren’t from some algorithm but through user reviews or suggestions from colleagues. My favorite local wine brands were introduced to me in-person, with additional visits to the winery to really learn about the work that goes into the bottle. Honestly, it’s completely transformed how I look at the drink.
This is the power that Total Wine harnesses. They’ve divided their site into several sections with high-to-low ratings, supplemented with frequently updated best-of lists and seasonal suggestions. Their Guides & Advice directory gives you a starting point to whittle down what you want to purchase your wine for, while their Top Wine Of 2020 gives you recommended bottles supported by user reviews. They’re also consistent about giving you several options for online delivery, as there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing a good wine you can’t buy.
Another day, another bottle. User reviews are sometimes the most reliable metric you have to choose between one bottle or another, and in that regard, Total Wine will have you constantly coming back for more.
8. Natural Merchants
It’s not easy being a wine drinker with gluten intolerance. Doubly so if you’ve made a commitment to organic wine cultivation methods. Thankfully, you’re not alone.
Natural Merchants is a wine importer that’s committed to putting together today’s best organic, vegan, and sustainable wine brands. I have several members of my family who have one intolerance or the other, so I’m endlessly grateful for the people who put in the work to help others drink safely. Their site is a breeze to navigate and is separated by wine varietals, countries, and the type of label the drink comes under. If you have questions about whether or not a bio-dynamic winery is legitimate or if a certified gluten-free brand is worth your money, they’ve got answers.
This is no barebones site, either. They come with regular wine review updates and have an organic news blog so you’re never behind on what you need to know concerning today’s gluten-free and bio-dynamic wine brands. It’s already packed to the brim with wine pairings, breakdown lists, and deep-diving into how certification labels work. The latter is an important point, as a certification label comes with a host of specifications that aren’t often known to buyers.
If you have a gluten intolerance or want to see what an organic certification can do for your drinking experience, Natural Merchants will become your new wine bible.
The best wine review websites, ideally, should give you a plethora of juicy details to enjoy.
Reviewing wine bottles and brands is a major one, of course. Supplementary blogs, news, and think pieces are icing on the cake. Even better is when the site has its own spin on wine. We don’t all drink for the same reasons, so it makes sense we won’t read for the same reasons, either!
If you have a friend getting into wine that could use a free newsletter or some second thoughts, link them to this list of wine review websites. In the meantime: which wine review websites do you like to read?